With the recession in full swing, virtually everyone is feeling the pinch, especially fashion-conscious 20-somethings like myself. Spring for a few cocktail dresses you'll only wear a handful of times and you've basically blown your entire clothing budget.
With a wedding to attend in Mexico this weekend, I popped into Ilus, the new Nolita boutique that rents current-season designer frocks for a fraction of the retail cost. The brainchild of former investment banker Linda Pratka, the small, spotless shop offers a wide array of cocktail and formal labels such as Amsale, Jayson Brundson and Gilles Montezin. And for sure, the price is right; for three days you can borrow a structured Badgley Mischka Platinum gown for $185 (originally $1,195) or a black and white floral print Jill Stuart number for just $65 (originally $420).
And the rental stash doesn't just include dresses. A diverse collection of oversized envelope clutches by Catherine Repetti was on display, as well as a few dainty necklaces by Maggan Soderberg. And look out for even more variety in the accessories department, says Pratka, who expects to add Badgley Mischka clutches and a line of funky, gold hammered jewelry by New York designer Laura Lobdell.
Although I was initially eyeing a geometric blue and white Abaete dress just like the one Rachel Bilson wore to the Awake premiere, Pratka nudged me in the direction of "something bright and fresh for the Mexican fiesta." As we scoured the racks, she pulled two looks for me --a neon-yellow, single-sleeved Foley & Corinna stunner ($60 to rent, from $375) and an adorable Cynthia Rowley nautical striped strapless dress with pockets ($75 to rent, from $475). While I still haven't decided which way to go, with these prices, I might just take both.
248 Elizabeth St.
New York, NY