Style Wise – Black Tie Wedding Attire: The Rules, Regulations and Rentals

The Dilemma – The “Black Tie Optional” Wedding

It finally happened, one fine day in July, I was invited to my first “black tie optional” wedding. Cue nervous panic as I realized I had no idea what I was going to wear. Of course, seeing as though the bride is one of my best friends from college, I’d known about the wedding for over a year, and had been analyzing my options for just as long. In a year’s period, I had searched high and low, from to (which I highly recommend if you are looking for ideas on where to find exactly what you want). I even activated my Pinterest page to organize my favorites from the Internet (it’s the only board I have). I educated myself on etiquette from the likes of Martha Stewart (of whom I know the bride would approve) and I learned three important things upon my research.
  1. The dress had to be a formal floor length gown
  2. The dress could also be a short dressy cocktail dress
  3. It wasn’t going to be cheap (because unfortunately my taste is expensive).

The Solution – Rent the Runway

Call it kismet, call it luck, call it whatever you want, but just around the same time I started having daily panic attacks because I hadn’t found the right dress yet (Spare me the “You’re not the bride – why do you care so much about what you’re wearing to your friend’s wedding? The focus is supposed to be on her.” comments.) She would expect nothing less from me and I’m positive she wants everyone to put as much thought in to their attire as she did to hers. Right around that time, I received a wonderful surprise from Rent the Runway in my e-mail inbox informing me that I was one of the winners of their 100 Free Dresses contest on Facebook. The prize was $150 to spend on

Rent the Runway is a genius concept developed by Co-founders Jenn Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss. RTR is a community for women who know and love high fashion, who want to look glamorous for all their nights out and experiment with new brands without the anxiety of investing in piece after piece. A concept developed for women like me, and you. I’ve chosen my favorite looks for the wedding and also had an opportunity to catch up with Jenn Hyman, Co-founder of RTR. Check out the interview below after checking out my selections (and let me know which one you like best).

Black Tie Wedding

Halston Heritage (Retail: $645 – RTR: $125) | Calvin Klein Collection (Retail: $1895 – RTR: $250 |
Matthew Williamson (Retail: $ 2,825 – RTR $350) | Nicole Miller (Retail: $630 – RTR $100)
Yigal Azrouel (Retail: $1695 – RTR: $250)

The Interview

303 Magazine: I constantly see buzz online about Rent the Runway’s wonderful customer service including contests and giveaways on social media sites. What has been the most significant contest or giveaway that RTR has promoted?

Rent the Runway / Oscar de la Renta Contest

Jenn Hyman, CEO & Co-Founder: We’re so excited to have just launched Oscar de la Renta jewelry on our site. In honor of the new launch, we’re giving away $7,000 in prizes— $1,000 to Oscar de la Renta, $1,000 to and ten pieces of Oscar jewelry!

303: What is your favorite piece being offered on RTR right now and why?

JH: I’d have to say the Oscar de la Renta Deep Amethyst Statement Necklace since it’s one of our newest additions. It takes any look to the next level.

Oscar de la Renta - Deep Amethyst Statement Necklace
Oscar de la Renta - Deep Amethyst Statement Necklace

303: How do you chose the items that are offered on RTR?

JH: We have a fabulous fashion team who are integral to the company because if women did not like the dresses we offer, we would not have a business.  I attend shows with the team and give my input but really defer to their expertise on the final buys. Rent the Runway carries a range of contemporary to high-end designers so that every woman can find something she loves.  On average, we add a new designer twice a month and are constantly adding seasonal and trendy styles throughout the year.

303: What are some tips and tricks for fashion lovers on a budget (in addition to RTR) to keep their wardrobe current and interesting?

JH: It’s important to have a closet full of basics that can be updated for the current season with trendy, colorful accessories or a fabulous pair of heels.

303: At what moment did you and Jenny realize that RTR was a huge success?

JH: We knew there was something to our idea when we watched a girl try on her first RTR dress at a pop-up shop we held on a college campus. She spun around with a huge smile on her face and said, “I look hot,” and we knew there was something special there.

303: What advice can you provide to young female entrepreneurs.

JH: You can’t be afraid of failure or of hearing the word, “no.” Take your idea and just go for it! And don’t underestimate the helpfulness of mentors. Jenny and I wouldn’t be where we are today without them.

303: What advice can you provide for dressing for a black tie wedding?

JH: Wear something that flatters your figure and accentuates your assets, but not too much at once! It can be easy to go over the top for a black tie affair, so my general rule is to go with no more than two accessories at once—usually bracelet and earrings or a necklace. 


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