There’s nothing quite as satisfying as the smug feeling of a true bargain – the inherent knowledge that you’ve paid pennies on the dollar for a fabulous designer frock – while passerby gape with open mouths, wondering if you’ve got Rachel Zoe on speed dial or are just naturally blessed with the ability to accessorize well.
Bargain shopping has a deeper, more organic layer to it than a quick trip to H&M or Forever 21. Sure, you can find steals amidst the $12 leggings and $3.99 plastic earrings, but a classic Burberry trench, gently worn Jimmy Choo strappy sandals and vintage pearls are immune to homogenized mall musings. Consignment shops, once considered glorified secondhand stores, are making a strong comeback amid the economic turbulence that’s wracked the world. Not only do they offer one-of-a-kind and rare finds, they also afford the opportunity to trade in – and sometimes, trade up – your existing wardrobe for one that’s new (to you).
As a seasoned consignor, I offer The Vogue City readers step-by-step instructions on how to – and how to not – consignment shop.
1. Time is of the essence.
Unlike that aforementioned trip to H&M, where, if you really want a basic white tank, you can be in and out within 5 minutes flat; you need to block off a chunk of time to appropriately dig through the literal buried treasure a consignment shop has to offer. I recommend at least an hour; two hours, if you can spare it.
2. Get over yourself.
Yes, you read that correctly. Check your “size 28 in Sevens only, please” attitude at the door, ladies. Be open to different brands and labels; be willing to go up (and sometimes down) a size or two; and ignore hemlines, zippers and buttons – almost anything can be remedied by the hand of a skilled tailor, a consignor’s secret weapon.
3. Reduce, reuse, recycle.
One cardinal rule I abide by is that if something comes, something else goes. In essence, it’s the game of checks and balances played out with cardigans and billowy tunics. It doesn’t matter if you’ve spent $50 or $500 on a dress: if it’s never seen the light of day, what good is it sitting in the back of your closet? Ship it off to your preferred consignment shop. If and when it sells, the funds (typically a 50/50 or 60/40 split) will be added to your house account. You can then draw on this account for in-store purchases, or will receive a check for reflecting your share of the sales at the end of the quarter. Who said math wasn’t my strong suit?
4. She shoots, she scores!
Congratulations! You’ve successfully landed a bargain. Resist the urge to yell from the mountaintops of tourists in Times Square or obnoxiously wear the price tag in public. As Jay-Z eloquently put it, “You can go to school, but you can’t buy class.” Real style is, after all, priceless.
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