Designer Dresses for Rent

May 6, 2013 Updated May 6, 2013 at 8:11 AM EDT

By Ginger Geoffery

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May 6, 2013 Updated May 6, 2013 at 8:11 AM EDT

Buffalo, NY (WKBW) - We are heading into the busy wedding season, and now there are more options than ever for choosing what to wear to the wedding or other big event on your schedule. You can now rent authentic designer dresses for the fraction of the cost of buying.

The website renttherunway.com offers designer dress rentals for as little as 50 dollars. These are dresses that cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars to buy. We tried the website to find a designer dress for me to wear to the Buffalo Broadcasters awards dinner.

Here's how "Rent The Runway" works. Surf the website for dresses you like. You can narrow your search by dress style, color, length, or designer. Research the dresses you like by reading reviews and viewing pictures posted by prior renters. Then, choose two dresses. Rent The Runway sends you two sizes each of both your first dress choice, and your backup dress.

Perhaps the biggest risk with renting a dress online is guessing whether it will fit and be flattering on you. That's where dress shops such as TT New York in the Boulevard mall have an advantage.

"We don't just carry one dress, we carry a size run in all our dresses so you actually can try something on because every dress fits differently," explains Jimmy Lee, the designer at TT New York, "It's like a pair of shoes. You don't know until you put them on."

And if a dress doesn't fit quite right, a store usually can do alterations. You can't alter the rental dresses.

Lee says people often come into his store with the intention of just getting ideas and then buying online. "We have a lot of customers that just want to come in and try things on and the funny part is when they do that they end up finding something they like and then they really realize that buying it online is really taking a chance, and there are no chances here," says Lee.

While there are plenty of success stories with Rent The Runway, in my case it didn't work out so well. I didn't get to try on the dresses until the day of the event, and they didn't fit. So, I dug something out of my closet for my red carpet night, and Rent The Runway gave a us credit toward a future rental. So, the takeaway from the online rental experiment is, it can be an inexpensive way to get a designer look, but be prepared with a last minute backup plan just in case.