04/11/2015 6:20 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:50 PM AEST

The Rules Of Borrowing Other People's Valuables

Ali Smith via Getty Images
Broken sunglasses and high heel shoe

Stacey* was going to a black tie ball, and with no floor lengths gowns in her closet, asked Alicia if she could borrow her Carla Zampatti emerald green satin show stopper. Alicia obliged, though cringed when she saw late night party photos of Stacey in said gown upload to Facebook. When the gown was returned Stacey was adamant that the cigarette hole was there all along.

And so goes many a tale when friends borrow each other's valuables. A similar thing happened to Blake when he lent his lawnmower to Marty*, who broke the blades running over a bunch of sticks, only to offer a measly slab of beer as payment.

While grown adults should know how to conduct themselves when it comes to borrowing, a quick anecdotal survey reveals that almost everyone has a horror story or two.

"No matter the item -- whether it's a platter, piece of clothing or electronic device -- the borrower really needs to replace the items if it is returned ruined or broken," Kate Fisher, Director of Closet Collective, a dress hire company, told The Huffington Post Australia.

Michelle Worsley, Director of Just Once agrees. "Honesty is always the best policy. If something happens to an item that a friend has lent you, let them know as soon as possible.

"If it’s something small that can be fixed, tell them that you will have it repaired immediately. If it’s irreparable and it’s still available in stores, then you need to buy another one, or give them the cash equivalent."

With the repair or replace policy sorted, when is it actually okay to borrow in the first place?

"You should only really ever ask very close friends," Fisher said.

"It can be awkward if you ask an acquaintance to loan an item -- it might put them in a tough position where they feel as though they can't say 'no'.

"It also comes down to the item. Machinery like drills are fine as little to no wear and tear occurs. Formal dresses are more accepted as they are expensive to purchase and rarely worn, but an everyday item like a denim jacket, for example, is a little strange. You're best off investing in your own staple pieces."

"There are some things that are just not ok to borrow from friends," Worsley added.

"You wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) want to borrow your friends’ gym gear for example. Shoes are another no-go zone for me. For more 'everyday' items I think it really depends on how close you are to your friend. Your bestie would probably give you the shirt off their back but Suzie from accounts at work might not feel so comfortable lending you her blazer for that meeting next week."

Worsley also points out that it's improper to ask to borrow an unused item.

"It’s highly inappropriate to ask if you can wear or use an item before the purchaser has even had the chance. If you want to remain friends you should really wait until the item has been used a few times before you call in the favour."

It should go without saying that the way you treat the borrow item is hugely important, though Fisher points out that she's often surprised at what people try to get away with.

"Women wearing fake tan when borrowing clothing is a big problem. Tan will often transfer on light fabrics, especially around the arm and neck holes, and is difficult to wash or dry clean out. Borrowers should also avoid smokers or smoking."

Whether you've encountered smokers and fake tan or not, you should always dry clean clothing before returning.

"If you borrow something to wear from a friend you must have it dry cleaned before you return it. Especially if you want to be able to borrow anything again in the future. If your friend has been kind enough to loan you something from her wardrobe then you should make the whole process as easy and hassle free as possible for her.

"Whatever you borrowed should be returned in a state that is ready for her to wear straight away."

People should also liken borrowed items to a new purchase says Fisher, and assume a return period is in place.

"The person who is requesting to borrow the item should collect it and drop it back, ideally within a week. Asking the owner to come and collect their item is rude, and they shouldn't have to ask for it back -- you should return it promptly without prompting.

"It is also nice to return it with a little gift like chocolates or flowers. It doesn’t have to be expensive (in fact even just a handwritten card goes a long way, just something that shows them that you really appreciate the favour," Worsley said.

Lastly, keep in mind that the whole purpose of a loan is to use an item you have no intention in purchasing because you only need to use it that one time.

"The loan of an item should be for one use only. If you need to use it more than once, consider buying your own. If you've moved house and have a new patch of grass you should probably buy a lawnmower instead of borrowing the neighbour's repeatedly," Fisher said.

*Names have been changed to protect the bad borrowers.