When I first heard of The Volte, one of those designer dress hiring sites where you can rent, say, a Zimmermann gown for a fraction of the retail cost, I was intrigued. Why? Well, The Volte doesn’t just let you borrow stuff – you can also loan your own clothes out to punters.

Like any thrifty shopaholic (that is a real thing, you guys) I’ve been on board with outfit rental services for ages. But often I’ve found my size wasn’t available across a wide range of styles, or my actual STYLE wasn’t represented. Because usually these rental services are loaning from their own collection, not from other Aussies like you and I.

The beauty of The Volte, and why I wanted to trial them for a story, is that their database of fancy outfits is MASSIVE. So huge, in fact, it took me two hours to sift through – and that was when I limiting items to a size 10 and a size 12 via the search function.

This is because rather than keep stock themselves, they are operating a rent-your-own-stuff website. Yep, if you have a Shona Joy dress you wore once for a wedding (me) or a Spell skirt you simply don’t wear enough for it to be worth the $$ you threw at it, you can list them on The Volte and loan them out to folks like me looking desperately for a cute dress for that upcoming 30th their ex will be at.

I will say this – the site is a BIT confusing at first.

My advice? Make an account immediately – then you can “heart” items you like the look of, making a wish list you can return to at the end. Also, don’t ignore that “Clothing” tab up the top there – yes, The Volte has a LOT of dresses, but they also have pants, co-ord sets, jumpsuits… all vibes I can get on board with.

I stuck to searching with only size limitations so I wasn’t seeing gorge dresses that were a size 8 and then crying. But you can also filter by brand, colour, length and area – the area one is important if, say, you want to get something ASAP.

Basically, your perfect birthday dress is sitting in someone else’s wardrobe right now, and they might be in Perth, or Tassie, or Mooloolabah. What I mean is, the way Australia Post works means if you rent a dress in Melbourne and you live in Melbs, you are likely to get that item in a couple of days – but if it’s in Cairns, you might be waiting a bit longer.

For me though, I didn’t care and rented this For Love And Lemons maxi dress:

You can do 4 day rentals or 8 day rentals, and some items offer a 1 day rental which is great if you know exactly when you need it and can liaise with the seller to get it to you for that day, or if you just want to try it on.

As soon as I rented it the owner got in touch with me via The Volte’s internal messaging system, letting me know she was sending. It was a bit like how eBay messaging works – you just have an inbox but you’ll also get a notification to your nominated email address.

Two days later it arrived via express post. The dress looked exactly like in the pictures. It fit me perfectly, but something I would say could be detrimental if you’re a bit of a weird size like me (between a 10 and a 12) is that many items don’t have specific measurements listed.

My advice would be to google the style if you can and find the measurements online via either a current or old listing on the brand’s website. Then you’ll know 100% if it’ll fit you, because The Volte don’t offer refunds for change of mind.

Some great news is that returns are covered via a pre-paid post bag, which saves you the cost of sending back. You DO have to send back within the selected time frame though, or cop extra payments. Which makes sense – especially if an item is super popular and someone else has it booked the week after you.

You don’t need to dry clean or wash the item either, although if you damage or seriously filth up the item, you might end up charged for it.

If you want to loan out your stuff, be aware that there’s a service fee of 16.5%. It’s not hefty, but it’s not teeny either, especially when The Volte don’t cover cleaning costs – so they advise you to list the price with cleaning costs included.

All of this being said, The Volte is definitely a top pick for me in terms of Australian outfit hire companies. Just the fact that you’re hiring from other Aussie women was enough to sway me – Australians come in so many different sizes, with so many varying tastes in fashion, it’s nice that there’s a hire company that offers such a plethora of outfit options.

Image: Instagram / @thevolte