In a summer packed with some special social events, I felt like I hadn't a thing to wear. That's when I turned to the RSC's Costume Store to see if they could help this Cinderella go to the ball.

My husband rolled his eyes. "You've got a wardrobe full of frocks!" he said, as I lamented my lack of sartorial options for an upcoming black-tie event.

But the truth was, I didn't have the glitzy dress I needed for this particular super-special celebration. And what's more, I didn't really want to shell out a couple of hundred pounds for something I'd probably not wear again for years. Plus, I have tried to become much more conscious of the environmental impact of buying lots of clothes.

So with dress hire becoming ever more popular, I hit the rental websites rather than the shops. Hours of trawling gave me nothing but a headache and a sinking feeling. Most dresses weren't my style, and once shipping and rental fees were totalled, I might as well have bought a new dress.

But then a colleague mentioned the RSC's Costume Hire service. I emailed the team and booked a slot to pop along for a peruse.

The lovely Caitlin was all ready for me on the day and enthusiastically showed me around the hundreds (it seems) of racks of costumes from the ages. After a quick chat about the kind of thing I was looking for, she pointed me straight to the sections best suited to my requirements and left me to pull a short-list together.

Not only was it so much fun look so closely at so many beautiful costumes, it's a great treat for theatre fans. Most pieces are labelled with a note on who wore each piece and in which production. Which means you not only get a great outfit, you also have a great story to tell when you're wearing it.

It didn't take me long to pick out half a dozen possible dresses. Caitlin then showed me to a private changing area and I was amazed to find that most of them fit me. But, in my heart, I'd had my eye on one dress in particular. I held my breath, both physically and metaphorically, as Caitlin zipped me up. It fit. We both instantly agreed it was the one.

All that was left to do was to fill in a short form and pay a small deposit. The team put the dress aside for me to collect just before my event and checked it over for any imperfections. Caitlin spotted an imperceptible loose thread and promised to sort it out. The cost of the hire for the week was £24 plus VAT, coming in at just under £30 all up. A fraction of the cost of some of the dresses I'd considered buying.

On the day of the event I felt incredibly glamorous, both because the dress garnered a lot of compliments, and also as I was really proud to tell people where it came from. After all, I can't imagine the next time I'll be able to say: "Yes, as worn by the actor Harriet Walters," when talking about my outfit!