Valentine’s Day Dresses: Get Designer Style (Without Dipping Into the Kids’ College Fund)

By Kristin Hull

Photos courtesy of Rent the Runway
Photos courtesy of Rent the Runway

Valentine’s Day is the time to be your sexiest self. Pull out your highest heels and some fab jewelry, give yourself a smoky eye (learn how from Talia Castellano,  the amazing little girl who lost her battle with cancer but made a huge impact in her 13 short years) and slip into a dress that will make your significant other do a double take.

Go all out

Think romantic like sequins or lace, and sexy like super short, low cut or form-fitting. Don’t be afraid to go all out for the person you chose to be your partner in life. Don’t they deserve it? Even if you’re going to have dinner at home, take the time to get all gussied up. You will make your mate feel special, as well as yourself. If you’re headed to a restaurant that isn’t formal but want to wear a dressy dress, just put a blazer or leather jacket over it to tone it down.

It’s not too cold for sexy

And for those of you who live in a cold climate, add a pair of opaque tights to your ensemble and drape an overcoat over your shoulders (it’s the new trend, you know). Skip the shawl. They’re passé – for now. They’ll probably be back in at some point, so store them away until then.

There’s no shame in Spanx

Don’t let those bumps and bulges keep you from feeling good in your dress. Show them who’s boss by wiggling into some shapewear. Spanx may be the most well-known brand but there are a lot of others out there these days. Find one that works for you. It is worth the price; you’ll wear it over and over and over.

Now, onto the dresses!

If your first thought is that all of your dresses are too worn, out of style or don’t fit, fear not. Afraid you’re going to feel guilty for buying a new frock because that money really should be saved for your daughter’s ballet lessons? We’ve got a guilt-free answer. Always wish you could wear a designer dress? Now you can.

What? Rent a dress?!

Yep, rent a dress. Rent the Runway is a fantastic service created by women who understand what women need. They offer dresses for as low as $30 by designers like Temperly London, Shoshanna, Robert Rodriguez, Tibi, Dolce & Gabbana and many more. The price includes TWO dresses (one in a second size in case your first choice doesn’t fit) and a four-day rental. (A standard shipping charge of $9.95 will be added to your bill.) Your package will arrive by 8pm on your chosen rental date. Return it in the pre-paid envelope provided.

Gross. Are the dresses dirty?

Each dress is dry cleaned before it is sent out, and don’t worry about what will happen if you get something on it. Normal wear and tear is covered by a $5 insurance charge. Totally worth it.

It gets better

An extremely helpful feature of the Rent the Runway site is that customers can upload photos of themselves in their rented dresses along with a review. So, not only can you see how a particular item looks on real people but also read about what they thought of it.

Have more questions? They’ve got everything covered here.

Join the free site now and get $25 off your first rental.

Let’s shop!

Top row, left to right

Martin Grant Paris Mod Draped Dress (rental price, $30/retail price, $1,300): Wondering what color shoes to wear with a blue dress? Black can work but even better would be silver, gold or something in the brown family. Pumps or high-heel booties will work best this time of year. The diagonal line of the fabric will make your waist look smaller.

Cushnie et Ochs Illuminator Dress (rental price, $30/retail price, $1,495): One reviewer said her husband couldn’t stop looking at her in this dress. If you have a small chest consider yourself lucky, the deep V will look classy and sexy on you.

Milly Chained to You Dress (rental price, $30/retail price, $385): Straight and apple figures can rock this gorgeous frock – although if you have a large chest it may look too hoochie.

D&G by Dolce and Gabbana Leopard Looker Dress (rental price, $30/retail price, $625): You don’t have to be the size of a model to rock this dress. Some of the renters who posted photos and positive reviews are sizes 6, 8 and 10 – and it looks great on them because they have curves.

Lilly Pulitzer Shauna Tunic Dress (rental price, $50/retail price, $198): Another great dress for apple and straight shapes. This short shift will highlight your gorgeous gams.

Bottom row, left to right

Halston Heritage Rocket In the Sky Dress (rental price, $65/retail price, $375): The shoulders on this dress will help balance out a pear shape and emphasize the pretty curves of the hourglass figure.

Robert Rodriguez Black Label Pretty Package Dress (rental price, $30/retail price, $525): The gathered fabric at the waist of this dress will hide a tummy. It will flatter hourglass figures and give straight bodies the illusion of curves.

Tibi Reality Versus Dream Dress (rental price, $40/retail price, $485): A busy pattern helps hide bumps and bulges. Complete the fashion-forward look with pair of booties or pointy-toe pumps.

Rachel Roy Pencil Me In Sheath (rental price, $30/retail price, $428): A sheer panel and diagonal angles make this a little black dress for the 21st century.

Robert Rodriguez Sequin Disco Romper (rental price, $40/retail price, $432): Stand out in a sexy, not sleazy, off-the-shoulder romper. If the shorts are too short, or you’re worried about cellulite, simply add a pair of opaque black tights and pair them with black pumps or booties – the higher the better – to elongate your legs.

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