Skip to main content
smart cookies

It's easy to justify spending on a wardrobe item that's likely to become a staple – a little black dress (or a great navy blazer) can take you anywhere.

It's the designer strapless, in peacock blue, that has a harder time passing the cost-per-wear test. If purchased, this one-hit wonder ultimately finds its place hanging between the dresses that are too big or too tight, leaving us once again declaring that we have nothing to wear for the holiday season.

Looking at a closet full of clothes that were off-trend and unflattering is what ultimately led entrepreneurs Lisa Delorme and Kristy Wieber to create Rent, Frock, Repeat – an online service that offers women the sort of formal-wear rental options that have long been available to men.

Here's how it works: Sign up at and browse through more than 100 dresses. While doing my own search, I fell in love with a black sequin Badgley Mischka V-neck, retailing for $325 and renting for $70.

You can then check out the measurements of models wearing the dress or chat with a stylist by phone to ensure the right fit. You can even specify the look you're after – sexy, trendy, edgy, feminine – and images pop up to give you ideas for hair, shoes and accessories.

The co-founders say the site provides options for those in rural areas with little access to shops and a solution for the condo dwellers with already cramped closets. It's a smart solution if you need a dress for a special occasion, such as a wedding, or are looking for something fun for date night or even vacation.

You can keep the dresses for up to eight days and as a safeguard you'll also be sent an additional size free. When you're done being fabulous just slip the dresses back into the prepaid return envelope and pop them in the mail.

Angela Self is one of the founders of the Smart Cookies money group. Read her weekly column on managing debt and saving money at the Globe's personal finance site.