Hiring formal dresses and suits has never been easier, with retailers embracing our changing tastes and dress codes, along with the ever-present fear of being seen in the same outfit twice.
Based in Chelsea Manor Studios, has provided luxury dress hire, by appointment only, to clients from across the UK for the past 35 years. Its collection of 400 dresses is refreshed twice a year, and clients have attended engagement parties, balls and major media events (such as the Cannes Film Festival and the BAFTAs) wearing One Night Stand pieces.
Each customer is given an hour-long styling appointment. They can choose from either dresses or separates in sizes 6-18, then hire accessories, such as gloves and cloaks, to complete the ensemble. Sequinned backless dresses are particularly popular for the festive season.
It’s important to reflect the invitation’s dress code and tone in any formal outfit; One Night Stand owner Joanna Doniger suggests avoiding “clingy, plunging necklines” for corporate events. Don’t forget to match your shopping destination to your deadline, so you get the broadest choice for all those glamorous occasions.
“It’s always best, if possible, to come at least a week before the event; we can do minor alterations if necessary,” says Doniger. “However, as we carry such a huge range, there’s always something great even for last-minute panics!”
Seven more hiring hotspots for formal wear
- Chic by Choice focuses on flexibility, with two sizes despatched for every order, in case you need a more generous fit (sizes 4-18 are stocked), and three different lengths available in each design. Hire periods are four or eight days. Though customers are advised to book at least 48 hours before an event, the styling team may be able to help with 24 hours’ notice: perfect for those last-minute party invitations. There’s also a 25% student discount.
- Girl Meets Dress lets customers try up to three dresses and only pay for the one they wear, to be borrowed for two or seven days. The 4,000-strong dress collection caters to all tastes, mixing designers like Alexander Wang, Diane von Furstenberg and Roksanda with mid-range high street options; dresses, in sizes 6-18, are also categorised by occasion, colour and style. If your 2017 social calendar is already getting full, consider upgrading to VIP membership at just £39 per month.
- Bentley & Skinner makes all its luxury jewellery available to hire, for 1% of the retail price, plus VAT, and a £75 per day minimum hire charge. The antique and period collections are particularly striking for formal occasions: who could turn down the chance to wear a 16th century ruby and enamel ring?
- The Folly Boutique stocks fashion-conscious designer jewellery to hire or buy, with rentals lasting either three or six days. Should you fall in love with the piece you’ve rented, simply pay the balance to keep it forever. With such a vast range of modern designers, such as Smith/Grey and Mawi, you’ll always make a style statement.
- Buckleigh of London, a family-run business just a stone’s throw from the Sloane Club on Lower Sloane Street, rents menswear for any smart occasion. Highlights from the collection include Barathea wool dinner jackets, tailcoats accompanied by white silk scarves, and classic smoking jackets. Alterations are available to ensure the perfect fit.
- Neal and Palmer, based in Piccadilly Arcade, provides morning suits, black tie and waistcoats to hire, in chest sizes 32-50”, 26-44” waist and 30-36” inside leg. The morning suit in light grey Prince of Wales check – a pattern frequently used in menswear collections this season – is perfect for a winter wedding, whilst the colour spectrum of waistcoats lets you coordinate with your partner’s outfit.
- Yardsmen, based in Waterloo’s Lower Marsh, focuses on the higher end of the suit hire market. Its Savile Row-trained consultants will measure and fit an entire Savile Row suit or an individual item eight weeks ahead of your event; ready-to-wear suiting is also available for shorter deadlines. Each piece is made using the finest British and Italian wools, in a range of sizes (36-52” chest, 28-46” waist and 30-36” inside leg). If you aren’t able to pick up or return your hired suit in person, just use the nearest Doddle collection point.