Cinderella Style

Boston’s first dress-rental storefront offers haute looks, for a night.
best dressed designer dress rental

The Charlestown storefront offers gowns, bags, and jewelry for rent. / Photograph by Mariel Tenney

I have two weddings, three galas, and several formal dinners next month. A quick scan of my closet reveals three nearly acceptable outfits and a whole lot of gym gear. What’s a working girl to do? The 2015 answer: Rent it all.

Of course, I’ve been burned before trying to rent eveningwear online—things don’t fit quite right, don’t look like their picture, or get lost in the mail. Sisters Vicky and Nikoleta Lirantonakis, of Salem, have been there, too. After blowing paychecks on ill-fitting gowns, they realized there was probably a market out there for what I like to call Cinderella-wear: dazzling outfits for one event only. So they opened Best Dressed—a storefront offering designer dress rentals for any occasion—in Charlestown this summer, giving social butterflies a chance to try on their temporary duds before they commit. Another advantage over online rental services: Nikoleta, who has 10 years of fashion industry experience as a buyer, not only curates the collection, she can style customers as well, selecting jewelry, shoes, and even the clutch for your next event.

Best Dressed, admittedly, caters to a younger crowd, with dresses from domestic designers like BCBG and Nicole Miller (rentals start at $40), and no high-end brands in sight. But luxury gowns are on the Lirantonakis sisters’ radar. “We would love to eventually open up a high-end designer Best Dressed,” Vicky says. “We are obsessed with Valentino, Oscar de la Renta, Armani…. It would be so amazing if we could make these designers affordable for women.”

As I perused the store’s selection (tropical Trina Turk shifts, ruched hot-pink Shoshanna cocktail dresses, Kate Spade A-line mini dresses), other young women browsed the racks, many bedecked in classic Louis Vuitton shoulder bags and preppy David Yurman rings on their nicely manicured fingers. Yes, brand names matter to this crowd. They just can’t afford them, yet.

Vicky and Nikoleta add inventory to their collection every week, stocking sizes ranging from 0 to 14. “We’re always listening,” Vicky says. “We know what styles are doing best, and we try to keep that in mind.”

To stay up to date, check out Best Dressed’s blog, where Nikoleta frequently posts suggested outfits based on current trends. You just might find the perfect getup for your next cocktail party and end up with a little extra cash in your pocket for a martini, or three.

Best Dressed, 197 Eighth St., Charlestown, 617-337-5853, bestdressedcharlestown.com.