Tuesday, November 10, 2009

On A Tear: From Silas Lapham to Rent the Runway

Am happily reading The Rise of Silas Lapham by William Dean Howells, the center of which is a fancy dinner party to which the wealthy but socially ignorant Lapham and his family have been invited.

He does not know what to wear, having eschewed owning a dinner jacket “on a matter of principle” and fretting about whether or not he should buy a pair of gloves. (He does, and his hands look like “canvassed hams” when wearing them.)

His daughter and wife, however, can purchase an “imported” dress, which meant European, hence, “klassy,” without carrying the “third-world sweatshop” connotations that “imported” does today.

This novel started me thinking about clothing anxiety before a big event, and the NYT has reported on one possible solution: Rent the Runway, a company that rents designer dresses (not haute couture, as erroneously noted in the Times’ headline) for $50-200 per four days.

I’ve applied to become a member, to check out the actual dresses, because one can’t window shop, apparently.

But here’s a semantic question: What meaning would you prefer from this declaration:

I’ve rent my dress!

1. (I’ve ripped my dress!)

2. (I’ve paid money to borrow this dress, which I’ll return!)

In response to the first interpretation, with a needle and thread, one could have an—ahem—rent-stabilized dress.

9 comments:

Shani said...

I saw that article (actually, my husband sent it to me, likely in an effort to save some money on event clothing), and was unsure what to think about it, partially for the very reasons you listed. Too bad there is no window shopping allowed! Looking forward to reading how it goes.

enc said...

I read that piece. I bet that business will be a success. I can think of many reasons for girls to use the service.

In answer to your question, I'd have thought "ripped."

Angie Muresan said...

Yes, too bad window shopping isn't allowed. Let us know how it is, I can think of many instances where I'd need a dress, but most likely wouldn't want to pay full price for something I only wear once.

Anonymous said...

I thought it meant "ruin-t" my dress, yet another nail in the coffin of trying to be "klassy."

LPC said...

Report back on your findings!

Laura [What I Like] said...

I too was of two minds about the service when I saw the article but am curious to hear a first hand account!

Belle de Ville said...

For someone who is not a big shopper and who rarely attends events needing evening dresses, this could be a great idea.

wild thyme flowers said...

Well, c'mon celebrities do it all the time...I think they call it a loan or free advertising !

wild thyme flowers said...

Oops Miss Cavendish, I just wanted to say "Congratulations" on your two year anniversary. I thoroughly enjoy your blog. Your insight and eruditeness regarding the fashion world is most refreshing. Look forward to more.