From working mother to girl about town: How any woman can afford to dress like a Hollywood A-lister
There’s a reason that celebrities always look a million dollars … their wardrobes are worth a fortune.
But there is a way for anyone to get their hands on a stunning designer gown — just hire it for the weekend. It’ll cost you around the same as a mid-range High Street dress.
More and more firms that offer this kind of hire are springing up, charging just 10 per cent of the full cost. They send the dress by courier and even do the dry cleaning afterwards. And the bonus is you never have to wear the same thing twice.
Here, Alice Smellie speaks to the glamorous women who enjoy top-end wardrobes for High Street prices…
This pink ball gown (pictured left) can be bought for £1,300 but hired for just £129, while this striped number (right) costs £550 in the shops, but just £110 to hire
HIRE COST PER YEAR: £3,500
WARDROBE VALUE: £40,000
Anne Marie, 47, lives in London with her husband Anthony, also 47, a company director, and their two children, Archie, ten, and Luella, nine.
She hires pieces, such as this one from Belinda Belville, from vintage couture shops such as Modes & More in Pimlico, Central London.
IT IS entirely possible to turn up to an opening at the Royal Academy wearing a dress worth thousands of pounds . . . and find oneself face-to-face with a woman in exactly the same piece.
We always go to the Summer Exhibition Preview party, where you run into style icons such as Alexa Chung and designers Alice Temperley and Roksanda Ilincic, so hiring a designer vintage piece is the only way to go.
The chances of bumping into someone you know also wearing vintage Dior or Chanel are slim to none.
For this year’s party earlier this month, I wore a Balenciaga gown, which would have cost about £1,750 to buy but which I hired for little more than I’d pay for a High Street brand; and I wore a stunning £1,400 Chloe dress to a Jimmy Choo event.
To be honest, I think these days the smart set are all trying to find completely original pieces, as well as being aware of the value and beauty of pre-loved vintage items.
HIRE COST PER YEAR: £2,000
WARDROBE VALUE: £12,000
Bridget Nielsen, 57, lives in North Essex with her partner Jeremy Taylor, who has a Jaguar Land Rover dealership, and they have five children between them. She hires from mycelebritydress.com
I love stunning clothes, and I have so many opportunities to dress up. We go to horsey events with my stepdaughter, who loves showjumping, work parties for Jeremy’s business, and we attend lots of balls and cocktail parties.
I enjoy shopping but trying to find the right outfit for a specific event can be stressful — so I just hire one. Whether I have a more demure charity drinks party in a barn or a glitzy ball in a manor house, there’s always a selection of pieces from which I can choose, often with plenty of sparkle.
My son married in the States last year and I took a couple of pieces with me.One of my favourite labels is Dynasty, and I can hire a £1,300 dress for just £129.
There’s no age limit to hiring frocks. One of my friends has an 80-year-old mother who is very fussy, and why not? She needed a royal blue dress for a special event and couldn’t find one anywhere, until she hired one. That really impressed me.
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This stunning red and nude gown will cost you £1,300 to buy in the shops but just £129 to rent, while the light pink embellished gown costs £2,000 to buy and just £200 to rent
HIRE COST PER YEAR: £2,000
WARDROBE VALUE: £20,000
Esther Richards, 36, is married to Tim, 38, a businessman. They have two sons, aged nine and 11. She hires dresses from mycelebritydress.com
Walking into a glitzy event and knowing people are staring gives me a real lift — and there’s nothing that turns heads quite like a gorgeous frock that’s worth thousands.
Of course, no one knows my secret: I hire my dresses for a few days then send them back. My husband’s work in the City means we have so many nights out — and I wouldn’t want to wear the same thing twice.
I recently went to a children’s cancer charity fundraiser and hired a Scala diamanté dress with silver trim which was stunning. It would have cost £595 but it was only £89 to hire. In a year, I suppose I might spend around £2,000 — but that’s for a wardrobe worth more than £20,000.
It’s incredibly easy. I book the dresses I want for either a three or eight-day rental period. They arrive looking like new, packaged in tissue paper. Any that I don’t wear can be returned and I don’t pay for them. The ones I do wear I send back via special delivery.
There’s something so exciting about wearing a stunning designer dress which has been seen on an A-lister such as Emma Watson or Jennifer Lopez.
I never worry that a dress has been worn before: I just wonder to myself which glamorous woman has worn it and to which amazing party.
HIRE COST PER YEAR: £750
WARDROBE VALUE: £50,000
Leah Harkess, 36, lives in London with her husband Tommy, 38, and their two children. She runs her own baking business, Norah’s Brownies, and hires three or four outfits a week from London based wearthewalk.co.uk
when I’m baking, I wear Uniqlo trousers and T-shirts and put my hair in a ponytail — but most evenings I transform to girl-about-town, wearing unusual designer dresses which would cost thousands of pounds to buy.
It all started a year ago when my business took off and I started to do masses of social media, taking pictures of my baking and of myself at glamorous parties.
While I had plenty of clothes, I didn’t want to wear the same thing twice. I’m fortunate that Wear The Walk is just minutes from my house, so I can pop in every day or so.
I pay £60 a month or £129 for a one-off, like this dress by Michaela Frankova and have access to a stunning wardrobe worth tens of thousands of pounds.
Last Christmas, at the Cuckoo Club in Mayfair, I wore a £500 red dress by a little-known brand called Ukulele and people were coming up to me all evening asking where it was from.
I felt a million dollars, never mind a few hundred!
This £600 dress might be too expensive to buy outright, but it can be hired for just £89
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