Why Not . . . Shop Consignment?
Wednesday June 27, 2012

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~a consigned dress from Laundry found at a Portland consignment shop years ago~

Designer labels. Exquisite fabric. Beautifully tailored. Initially such clothing may seem out of reach if you are sticking to your budget; however, the luxury of owning top quality clothing is possible when you shop at consignment clothing stores.

I have shopped for many years in consignment furniture stores, but it wasn’t until a few years ago that I began faithfully visiting consignment shops to bolster my wardrobe. Now, part of my 10 Style Commandments is to shop consignment before paying the full retail price at Nordstrom, Net-a-Porter, etc.

The pleasure and the struggle of shopping consignment is that it takes time to find items that work well in your closet, but when you do find that perfect pair of J. Brand jeans at $69 instead of $189, it is a feeling that rewards the fiscally smart woman, as well as the fashion lover – both of which reside within you I have a feeling.

Last week, Emma Allen of Style Sequel – owner of the fantastic online consignment store – invited me to share my thoughts and some advice on consignment. Have a look at my experiences, suggestions and thoughts on fashion.

Today, on this week’s Why Not . . . ? post, I’d like to share a handful of reasons to consider adding regular consignment shopping to your repertoire, as well as introduce an expert in consignment shopping, Emma Allen from Style Sequel who will share seven steps to have a successful consignment shopping experience.

Reasons to Shop Consignment:

1. Saves Money
While it would be wonderful to be able to hang designer items in our closets regularly, paying for them without reaching for our credit cards would be impossible for most of us; however, when you shop consignment you are able to purchase designer clothing at greatly reduced prices, helping you stay within your allotted clothing budget each month which prompts a much sounder sleep that evening.

2. Eco-Friendly
I can remember when I purchased my first pair of black Manolo Blahnik pumps which were from a consignment store in Seattle and tweeted about it to my followers. The first comment was congratulating me on being environmentally friendly, and after reading about the recently released book Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, I am more convinced that If I can wear something that has been previously-owned but is in good condition, I am helping the environment in a small, albeit somewhat selfish, way.

3. Top Designer Items
As mentioned above, with a long list of designer fashions gathered in one store and the ability to purchase them at a reduced price, this is a fantastic way to add value to your wardrobe.

4. Better Value
Because items are reduced, you are able to buy a Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress for $99 (regularly @ $350), pumps from Yves Saint Laurent for $120 (regularly @ $400) and a Splendid top for $20 (regularly @ $75) for a total of $239 (instead of $835). So instead of barely being able to afford one item, you will be able to purchase three quality pieces to enhance your wardrobe.

5. Better Selection
The benefit of shopping at a consignment store is that you are surrounded by all of the labels in one location instead of having to pop into boutique after boutique for each individual designer. This saves you time and headaches.

6. Aids in Creating a Signature Style
At a traditional department store or boutique you are only able to purchase the current season’s styles, whereas in a consignment shop you may have multiple years of a particular season to choose from enabling you to create a unique wardrobe that cannot be duplicated as there are typically only one of each of the items in the store.

7. New Merchandise Frequently
Since customers are bringing in new consignment items daily and the shop only accepts in-season items, you will find new items to select much more frequently than in a traditional clothing store.

8. Great Service
While I’ve shopped in a handful different consignment shops (Seams to Fit in Portland, OR and Alexandra’s in Seattle are the two I have been frequenting recently with great success), I have always had wonderful customer service. They know the items and are willing to assist you in how to best wear them, etc. Typically the women and men in such stores are hardcore fashion aficionados and it shows with their genuine assistance.

9. Make Money
If you regularly include top quality items in your wardrobe and then go through your closet editing pieces that no longer work, you should consider taking your castaways to a consignment shop. If the consignment shop likes the clothes you have to sell (always bring them in cleaned and on hangers), they will put a certain percentage of the price they are going to charge as a credit on your customer file to use on your next purchase (or sometimes they will offer cash, but it is usually less than what they will credit you, so just ask).

10. Seasonal and On Trend
One thing that is helpful, is that whenever I stop in – whether it is spring, summer, fall or winter, I know that the clothing on the rack will coordinate with that particular season, and since owners and staff stay on top of the current trends, it is more likely to only find items that are plausible in the current fashion environment (aside from classics) which means there are more choices that would work in most women’s wardrobes.

11. Convenient
Not only are you able to peruse all of the designer labels in one location, but usually consignment shops aren’t in the heart of downtown, rather situated in neighborhoods and have easy to navigate parking and traffic. While I know this isn’t always the case, it tends to be they are tucked away somewhere which adds to the adventure.

Style Sequel’s 7 Golden Rules of Pre-owned Designer Shopping

Emma Allen, founder of www.stylesequel.com – the place to buy and sell beautiful, authentic pre-owned designer fashion – shares her top tips for getting the most out of buying second hand fashion. As Emma says “I have a has been searching out (and selling) the best in ‘past season’ fashion for many years and for me it is much more than a job, it is a way of life”. By following a few simple steps, you too can get the absolute best out of this most rewarding of fashion pursuits.

  1. Make a list of things you’d love to own as and when you spot them. If you don’t have brain like a Rolodex then make notes, tear out pages from magazines, use Pinterest – whatever you can to keep you focused and on track.
  2. Make your search area as broad as possible – check eBay, dedicated re-selling sites such as ours and high street second-hand designer stores as often as you can. Sign up for style alerts and newsletters, otherwise you could miss out on the pieces your heart most desires.
  3. Have an idea of what you are prepared to pay and be realistic. Yes, second-hand is cheaper, but do remember that many top end labels sell for a premium even pre-owned.
  4. Make sure you really take notice of condition. Minor issues such as pilling, loose seams below the zip are very common and can easily be fixed yourself. More substantial repairs can be done by an expert, but do watch out as they can be expensive, especially on fabrics such as leather and fur.
  5. If buying online check measurements and sizing. Fashion labels can have widely different sizings, even within their own label. Chanel and Christian Louboutin are renown for their small fits, whereas others such as Marni, Yohji Yamamoto and Marc Jacobs tend to be more generous.
  6. Take your time. You may not find what you want straight away, but if you keep searching you almost certainly will. Good things do indeed come to those who wait.
  7. Enjoy the chase. Once you do snag your first piece you’ll be hooked.

A tremendous thank you to Emma for all of her helpful advice. I do hope you will consider stopping into your local consignment shop or must-talked about consignment store that is in your area or is discovered on your upcoming travels. After all, you never know what treasure is just waiting to be found and enjoyed.

Happy shopping!

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8 thoughts on “Why Not . . . Shop Consignment?

  1. I love shopping at consignment stores but I get frustrated by the fact that consignment stores often only carry things that fit the fashion/style aesthetic of the surrounding area. I live in an upscale community in Southern California. Most of the wealthy women try to dress like their daughters so there is a great jean selection but no “real” clothes because most of the women don’t work. Lots of Forever 21/Boho items, no black dresses. I find a lot more items in ebay consignment stores.

    Quality is always an issue too. Check things VERY carefully and in natural light to check for holes and fading.

    Thanks again for another great post!


  2. Anonymous….I live in Canada, but have a friend who owns a great designer consignment shop in Columbia, SC called Revente…she has all styles and sizes!
    Great article, and as I own a consignment shop in Canada I would like to to mention that not all consignment shops are designer, and sometimes the everyday stores are where you will find your BEST deal on a designer item as they are most likely not priced as high. Shop around, shop often and get to know your local shop as they will likely call you when something you are looking for arrives!

  3. Thanks for mentioning that you can get designer clothing for much less at a consignment marketplace. My husband is getting promoted, and I want to make a good impression at his office’s party next month, but a lot of the clothes I have my eye on are too expensive. Maybe I could find something to wear for a good price on a consignment website.

  4. I have a thrift shop (not consignment) in my neighborhood that benefits Hospice, and they have the most gorgeous clothing that includes designer and vintage. I go regularly and find the greatest deals. Thrift shops can be hit or miss, but if you find a good one, it can truly be a treasure!

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