Finding the perfect dress for an occasion is nothing more than a matter of seeking out a frock that best suits your personal style, right? Well…not exactly. Unfortunately, as the average shopper knows all too well, a little something called budget plays a big part in the final selection process. Another reality the average shopper is well aware of is that when it comes to that perfect dress staring back at you from inside the department store window, it’s all our a girl can do not to beg, borrow and steal to get what she wants.

That though, is no longer the case for lucky UK residents that have discovered the fashion reserve at Girl Meets Dress, an online shop that invites customers to rent their “dream dress” when the occasion presents itself, be it a wedding, a job interview, a gala or a first date. (FYI: Going out with a possible Mr. Right always warrants a new dress.)

The brain child of former fashion executive Anna Bance, the idea for her innovative business idea struck her in 2009 while the PR manager for Hermès in the UK, which came with the daily task of arranging clothing loans for magazine shoots and stylists dressing celebrities for the red carpet.

“I thought to myself ‘wouldn’t it be amazing if we could all borrow dresses for just one event, and wear a different designer for every event in our calendar’?” shares Bance. And so began Girl Meets Dress, and the beginning of a whole new era of online shopping.

“When my co-founder and I looked into the market, we saw that no one was doing it,” Bance explains. “We were the first company to rent luxury fashion online and it is wonderful that Girl Meets Dress is now pioneering the way for rental as a new and exciting e-commerce category of its own.” Just look across the pond at Rent the Runway for proof, the British company’s  American equivalent and the answer to the age old problem of perfect dress, not so perfect bank account balance.

In light of the 4,000 designer pieces from 150 coveted labels such as 3.1 Philip Lim, Marc Jacobs and Alice + Olivia, Bance’s Girl Meets Dress boasts, it’s safe to say the trendsetting Londoner is something of a dress expert. With dress season officially upon us, we caught up with Bance to glean a few golden nuggets of advice for shoppers on the hunt for the proverbial dream dress.



For those readers who aren’t yet familiar with the concept of a rent-a-dress, under what circumstances/on what occasions would you suggest it makes the most sense to rent a dress rather than buy?

We all have those pieces at the back of the wardrobe, bought for yet another wedding/party/job interview, but then not worn more than once; hiring a dress allows you to very easily wear more trend-led, time-sensitive fashions, while continuing to invest only in those classic pieces, which will stand the test of time. Fashion changes so much, which is why it always makes sense to rent instead of buy — gain access to your dream wardrobe for all of life’s special occasions: a ball, a birthday party, or a romantic date.

When trying to find the perfect dress, what carries more importance, how you want to be seen or the event’s dress code? For example: if you’re going to a wedding that calls for cocktail attire, but you want to go full out black-tie glam to impress your date, what should you do?

When renting a dress you can still impress your date and stick to the dress code. We have many versatile wedding guest dresses that will be in keeping with the tone of the [cocktail] dress code, whilst also making you stand out from the crowd. Try something like our Carmen Marc Valvo Laced Cocktail Dress, which is a deep pink colour and has intricate lace detail. [A style like this] gives that added “wow” factor.


For those prepping for a first date, what style of dress do you think says “summer romance?”

Typically “summer romance” makes me think of warm summer evenings spent catching up with friends over a refreshing cocktail — what more could a girl want? In the case of a first date, it’s important to make a good impression without overdoing it. Try something that can easily be worn both day and night, while still capturing the fun essence of summer.

What type of dress best suits a summer garden party when temperatures are at a high, but the guests are on the conservative side of the fashion spectrum?

That’s a difficult one because often covering up to be conservative and keeping cool don’t go hand in hand! But, I’d suggest a knee-length dress with short sleeves and a classic cut to do the trick. And remember, conservative doesn’t have to be boring — go for ladylike charm and contemporary charisma.


What sort of dress would you recommend for going from the office to a night out?

The best day-to-night dresses are often the simple ones that can easily be accessorized to aid the transition. A shift dress in a block colour would be appropriate enough for the office, but cleverly accessorized with a pair of heels, clutch bag and statement necklace would see you rivaling your friends on a girls’ night out!

In your option which spring/summer trends looks best in dress form?

I’m a big fan of the metallic trend that’s around for SS14; I’m like a magpie, anything that sparkles or shines, and I’m instantly drawn to it! That’s why my favourite dresses at the moment include our Opulence England Gold Sequin Prom Dress and Diva Sophia Jessica Gold Gown, not to mention one of our most popular dresses, the Nude Sequin Dress by Jovani — the dress of my dreams.

Published May 31, 2014