By Rotation rental outfits
Fashion

‘I rented all of my party season outfits for the first time and it was surprisingly easy’

Instead of buying new outfits this party season, Fashion editor Harriet Davey decided to hire all the outfits from rental platforms as a more sustainable approach to festive dressing. 

As a rule of thumb, I am usually overdressed rather than underdressed. That is until 2020 happened, of course. As a freelance fashion editor I go in and out of different offices and there’s always a way I can wear some of my best clothes. Turns out this year, though, my suits, midi dresses and usual attire got put to the back of my wardrobe in favour of comfy jogging bottoms, the same white T-shirt and a selection sweaters. Even my ‘should never be seen out of the house clothes’ became okay to wear for my weekly food shop or daily stroll. 

Considering I’ve only worn about five percent of the clothes I already own, as party season approached I didn’t want to splurge on more clothes I will get hardly any wear out of at the moment – this is where rental fashion comes in. I’m taken by the idea of getting to borrow an outfit and feeling guilt-free about wearing it once. Although I don’t like lending my own clothes (my friends could vouch for this), I’m all for borrowing from sites or even peer-to-peer. 

The only thing that would have put me off rentals before trying them is laziness. I love an online order but the returns will wait in my room for weeks on end if they’re tricky to return, or worse, involve having to own a printer. Luckily, the whole process has been seamless with return bags and postage included so you just get it delivered, wear it, and post it back. Simple. 

December birthday 

De La Vali dress rented from Endless Wardrobe
De La Vali dress rented from Endless Wardrobe

Having a December birthday has its pros and cons but one plus is it’s a time everyone, typically, wants to get dressed up more than usual. As someone who likes getting dressed up, I don’t need much persuading. For 14 December I found myself in Tier 2 as I’m ‘home home’ in Norfolk so I got to go for a spa day, a meal and an overnight stay (heaven) at a local hotel. I’ve loved De La Vali from a distance for quite a while and I’ve always wanted to wear one of the going-out dresses. I rented this printed beauty with velvet detail from Endless Wardrobe. 

Known for its edit of day and evening dresses from the likes of ALEXACHUNG and Whistles, you can choose from either a four, 10 or 16 day rental and because you hire from the stock on site there’s a range of different sizes. This ‘Rianna’ mini dress from De La Vali is £65 for 4 days. The only issue I faced with my first dip into renting an outfit is having to give it back. I felt great in this supersize sleeve dress, I could imagine wearing it at events in the future and I felt as though I didn’t want it to just be my ‘birthday dress’ – the good news is you also have the option to buy as well as rent from this site. Problem solved. 

Christmas eve

Attico top hired from Hurr
Attico top hired from Hurr

Usually I would spend Christmas eve travelling from London to Norfolk in the morning and frantically wrapping all afternoon. This year, though, I had more time to enjoy the night before the big day and I created a party season iteration of ‘jeans and a nice top’ with leather trousers and an Attico top. It’s not just any top, this mega puff-sleeve would make the original eighties-disco attendees jealous. Borrowed from Hurr, you can rent items for four, eight, 10 or 20 days. This particular top is £51.41 for four days which is a cut of the £525 retail price. Hurr has also just launched an app so it’s now the first and only multi-destination rental platform.

One of the great things I found about the site is it tells you how much CO2 you’re saving from renting instead of buying: this top saves the equivalent of nine trees and 1,305 miles in a car, FYI. It also has a huge selection of designer brands to choose from so you’re bound to find something to suit your taste and budget. 

Christmas day

Rotate Birger Christensen dress rented from Rotaro and Paco Rabanne bag from Cocoon Club
Rotate Birger Christensen dress rented from Rotaro and Paco Rabanne bag from Cocoon Club

After literally months in comfy clothes I was more than happy to join the Christmas table in a fancy frock. I chose this pink midi dress by Rotate Birger Christensen from Rotaro. For four days it’s £32 but you can also choose to have it for eight to twelve days in case you want it longer, which you will, trust me. My six-year-old niece Tillie told me I looked like a Disney Princess and my brother-in-law said ‘you look like a girl’ which I took as good feedback. 

I don’t think I’ve ever worn a pink dress before but I loved it. The only issue, though, was the gravy spillage fear. Luckily, you just send all your outfits back to Rotaro and they sort out the cleaning their side so this takes away the worry. Although, I of course wore my napkin as a bib and changed straight into my new festive PJs before it got dark. 

Eyeing up the sequin bag? I also hired this too from Cocoon Club and its the disco ball bag I never knew I needed, until now. While I’ve got it (for a month) I’m also going to try it out with a white shirt and tailored trousers for a high/low everyday look. 

Boxing Day

Whistles suit rented from Hirestreet and The Vampire's Wife bag from Rotaro
Whistles suit rented from Hirestreet and The Vampire's Wife bag from Rotaro

For me, Boxing day means Christmas day no.2 at my dad’s house. As Norfolk was then plunged into the depths of tier 4 at 00.01am, this meant not seeing my dad and grandma this year. I could have stayed in my fleecy loungewear all day but instead I got dressed up as I usually would to give a sense of ‘normality’ to the day. Granted, I was of course back in said fleecy co-ord by lunchtime but making an effort to get ready made me feel better. 

I put on this Whistles black velvet suit from Hirestreet with a lace bra, very old Zara heels and a gold The Vampire’s Wife bag I rented from Rotaro. You can choose between four, eight, twelve and sixteen day rentals from just £45 for this suit and the oversized fit of the blazer with wide leg trouser is what I like in a party season suit. 

Hirestreet is perfect for occasionwear dresses and has a great range of mainly high street and boutique brands. The best thing I found about this site is not only do they colour co-ordinate the items in an aesthetically pleasing manner, you can also choose from a range of sizes, just how you would on an online shop. You can even order a few different sizes and just keep the tags on the ones you don’t want to get rental credit for other outfits in the future. 

Winter walk

Bottega Veneta bag rented from Cocoon Club
Bottega Veneta bag rented from Cocoon Club

With all the Christmas food, leftovers and party food in the house it was time for a walk. Leaving the house of course meant layers so I wore my leather trousers with chunky stomper boots, a knit and teddy coat. As a bag lover – and shoes, and coats and everything else – a designer bag is something which holds a special place in my wardrobe. I keep them in their dust bags, I pop them on a shelf instead of the floor and I aim to not cover them in makeup like my usual bags. The only thing is though, they can cost the amount of a few months rent: this is where Cocoon Club comes in. 

I rented this Bottega Veneta ‘The Mini Pouch’ from the designer bag subscription site and I loved it. This little beauty will set you back £1,280 IRL, but you can rent it for the month (along with another bag of your choice) as part of the ‘deluxe membership’ subscription for £99. Just want one? You can get it for £79 as part of the ‘premium membership’ package. There’s also a ‘light membership’ with a great edit of bags for just £49 a month. It’s amazing to be able to try an invest bag without actually having to empty your entire bank account. It also helps with the decision making process getting to ‘try before you buy’ and it has of course reinstated the fact I still want a Bottega Veneta bag. I think I’ll rent a few more out, first. 

One of the days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve

Vintage Fendi bag hired from Cocoon Club
Vintage Fendi bag hired from Cocoon Club

Those odd days between Christmas day and New Year’s are always confusing. When is the right time in the day to pour a wine? And is it okay to lay on the sofa all day? So many questions. It’s usually the time of the year you can enjoy doing absolutely nothing. This year, though, I feel like I’ve done a lot of that. In between upcycling furniture, clay, painting and anything else I’ve tried to keep busy with, it seems the boredom can be real. Hence why I had the time to show off this vintage Fendi bag I hired from Cocoon Club as a rather appetising lunch. Yes, I know, way too much time on my hands but it’s just too damn pretty not to show off. 

Not only does the luxury bag rental site have the latest ‘it’ bags, it also has an edit of vintage gems that deserve to be on the arms of many for years to come. Renting a bag is definitely something I would do again. 

So I guess you have some questions? How many pigs in blankets did I actually eat? Who knows. What I do know, though, is that I would 110% rent outfits again. Here are some of the things I would consider before trying it yourself. 

  • Each site has different times you have to order by in order to get them for your desired date so make sure you check on site. 
  • The rental platforms also have different rules on cleaning after the item has been worn so again, make sure you check. 
  • If in doubt, rent more than one. Most of the items have a tag that can be removed to wear or kept on to not be charged. 
  • Try out new brands – this is a chance to wear labels you may not usually get to wear or even heard of so take advantage of it. On the other hand, it’s also a time to wear items you’ve always wanted from brands you love. 
  • There may be fees for late returns so make sure once you’ve worn the item you get it back in time to avoid charges. Most of the sites give you a pre-paid bag for returns. 
  • Most importantly, have fun renting. It’s a great, sustainable way to get away with wearing outfits once or twice and reduces damage to the planet. 
  • Oh and also, make sure you tag the sites on social, they love sharing pictures from their rental communities. 

Items I would now like to rent:

Opening image: By Rotation

All other images: Harriet Davey/courtesy of brands

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