It's a solemn tale. Girl has a date to best friend's wedding/black tie gala/celebrity event of the year. Girl opens her bursting-at-the-seams closet. Girl has . . . nothing to wear. Jenn Hyman and Jenny Fleiss heard this story recounted time and time again from fashion-conscious friends, so the pair founded Rent the Runway, a veritable cornucopia of designer apparel and accessories, allowing members to borrow items by the likes of Proenza Schouler, Halston Heritage, Hervé Léger, Alice + Olivia, Prabal Gurung, Diane Von Furstenberg, Judith Leiber and more, at a fraction of the retail price. It's like crashing the closet of your most fabulous friend — only imagine that she's mega-loaded and BFFs with all of your favorite designers.
Now at nearly one million members, Rent the Runway allows the country's most stylish women to dabble in new designers and styles without coping with the wear-it-once guilt. The rental process is ridiculously simple: choose the dress of your dreams, select your size plus one backup size, and even pick out an additional style for just $25 more. Then Rent the Runway will ship your picks, clean and fresh and pressed, straight to your doorstep. After your event, drop your togs in the prepaid envelope and send it on its way. And brides: take note! If your bridesmaids are dragging their feet about buying another dress they will never wear again, check out Rent the Runway Weddings and the exclusive Bridesmaid Collection. It's a win-win: they will look fabulous in your photos without feeling like Katherine Heigl in 27 Dresses (although promising them an introduction to your James Marsden look-alike brother-in-law probably wouldn't be a bad idea).