January 19, 2007 04:14 PM

I may have been able to afford Ashlee Simpson’s Free People tunic, but her $1700 quilted Balenciaga purse is a whole different story. But thanks to Bag, Borrow or Steal, I was able to rent that exact bag for a week during the holidays. Here’s how it works: There are hundreds of designer bags and fine jewelry to choose from for weekly or monthly rentals. You can become a member for $5 a month, which gives you steep discounts on the four levels of rentals: Couture, Diva, Princess, or Trendsetter — member rentals range from $6 a week to $275 a month. When carrying my “borrowed” Balenciaga, I was convinced that everything I wore looked better, and despite my paranoia that I was going to irrepairably damage the bag, it came through without a scratch. Best of all, I was only out $80, which is a lot easier to swallow than $1700. Next up on my list is the buttery-soft Chanel tote that I have been lusting after. Note of caution: you can’t pre-reserve so leave yourself a little time cushion to get in your bag if you need it for a special occasion. The hottest “It Bags” can be waitlisted for several weeks. Even with a little lag time, why buy when you can rent? — Melissa Liebling-Goldberg

See more of Melissa’s webshopping picks in the new issue of PEOPLE’s StyleWatch, on sale now.

Photo: Courtesy of Bag, Borrow or Steal

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