Used clothes – A Wardrobe Editing Post Scriptum

This post is about used clothes, a sort of post scriptum to my recent posts on wardrobe editing. Because used clothes deserve their own posting. (You will find out why they do for me in a short personal story below).

Have you edited your wardrobe? If you have followed my suggestions and tips for editing your closet, you will now have bags of clothes you decided to part with, and you may have separated some for specific people, and some for donating. But you may have some clothes that were costly and are still in great condition, and you might want to get some money for them.

First consideration: Selling used clothes in good condition is a win-win for everybody

It may be that you feel funny about selling your used clothes or it may be that you have never done it and you think it is difficult. (It is not.) Don’t have second thoughts about it! If you have things in good condition that are good quality and practical or have brand value, you can sell them and everybody wins. First, you win, and that is the most obvious. Second, the potential buyer wins. Yes. Do not underestimate the opportunity you are giving to other people, because what you no longer need could meet the needs of someone else… because you do not know where people come from, what needs they have.

Let me detour to tell you a personal story. Before coming to the US, it would have never crossed my mind to buy used clothes. Growing up in Buenos Aires, the idea of getting something used by other people you didn’t know was not common or accepted, and was even looked down upon. It was a strong cultural “standard” (and we were all descendants of immigrants: Jews, Italians, Spaniards…). It was the time of tailors, and seamstresses, and cobblers, since things were not to be thrown away. And for that reason, there weren’t any secondhand stores either. My conversion to used clothes came later in my life, out of necessity, when living in NY as an international graduate student. To say I was living on a tight budget is an understatement, and boutique shopping was not within my horizons. I was lucky to live in what now is totally gentrified Park Slope, on Degraw Street, but at the time it was at the margins. There was nothing open after 8pm, let alone cool stores. But it was very close to residential blocks on 7th Avenue and up towards the Park, where people held stoop sales with things I would otherwise never be able to afford. Needing to dress my apartment and myself, and having very little money, I celebrated the fortune of buying used things. (I still keep an orange leather jacket from those days!) Most importantly, I experienced that what others take for granted or no longer want may meet a very real need for another person, since you don’t know where people are coming from. 

The last beneficiary for circulating used clothes is the environment.  . By completing the life cycle of a clothing item, we pay more respect to the resources involved in its production.

Now that you have decided to sell your old clothes, you are wondering how you should go about it. Consigning? Selling online?

Second consideration: Deciding between consigning or selling online depends on what you have and what you feel comfortable with.

The decision about whether to consign or sell online should be largely determined by how much you have, whether you live reasonably close to a consignment store “aligned” with your items, and whether you feel comfortable with issues related to online transactions.

If you have a lot of items, it is better to find a consignment store. Do not feel overwhelmed. Keep in mind that consignment stores make money if people consign with them, so they make it really easy. (I have done it!). While each store may have its own particular policies (make sure you read them carefully), for the most part they share the following: clothes should be clean and in good condition (obviously), clothes are priced according to brand, quality and usage (they will notify you for approval), you usually get 40-50% in store credit or 30-40% in cash, and after a certain period items are priced down, or they return them to you, or they donate them. You leave your email, name and telephone number. That’s it.

Urbanity, a consignment store I like in Berkeley.

Urbanity, a consignment store I like in Berkeley.

If there is no consignment store that is convenient for you, you may want to go online, listing by bulk or by item. Each has pros and cons. Selling by bulk is less time consuming, but you will get less money (people expect not to pay a lot for a “package deal”).  Craigslist is good for this, if you feel comfortable eventually having strangers come to your place to get the items. Selling by item may be more time consuming on Craigslist, as you will have to respond to inquires about particular items, but you can set a higher price. If you have a few high quality/special items, I recommend selling them on eBay, where you can set your starting bid, and once you have established an account, it is not very time consuming.

I hope that in the process of selling your things, you have become open to the idea of buying used things as well. Because buying used things means that you recognize that people have different needs, that intentionally or not you are caring for the environment. It also means that you are not basing your choices on fads or fashion (well, maybe just a bit) but using your eye to pick them out.

Last but not least, congratulations! You are done with your wardrobe editing! Time to get the items you are missing to make your wardrobe practical, versatile and stylish! Time to color it up and accessorize it! Let me know if you need help…

And leave me any comments you may have about used clothes!

Till next time, Mara