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.