Month: April 2014

The Rules of Consignment

“Where the hell are you going with all those packages?” my friends used to say, mocking me as I walked out the door with an armful of envelopes on my way to the post office.

I used to relish in my eBay sales, furiously exploring my closet for clothes I didn’t wear enough to warrant their stay and then list them for hours and hours on the site. Throughout the week, I would stalk my listings constantly, hopeful for even an extra dollar’s bidding activity.

However, those days are over. Slowly but surely, eBay has been knocking out little sellers like me with selling limits, decreased rights, and hefty fees to make way for big retailers like Michael Kors, Burberry, and J. Crew. How are they supposed to make money if they have teeny people like you driving down prices with your gently used Coach bag with a $19.99 starting bid?

As a result, I have moved on from my days as a proud eBay seller and I have evolved into a consigner, toting my trash bags full of clothes to storefronts like a homeless person. Consigning brings significantly less profit than eBay selling does, however eBay also takes a lot more time, effort, and frustration.

We constantly say that we “have nothing to wear,” (which, umm, we don’t… duh) however a brief peek into our closets usually proclaims otherwise. If you’re looking to make some fast cash on gently used items (so that you can go buy more stuff…) and you’re over trying to list stuff on eBay and deal with nasty buyers, then check out these tips on how to consign your clothes.

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 Back on the Racks in Long Branch, NJ

1. Choose a heavily trafficked store. When you walk in, is the place full of moms or young professionals? Is it empty or are people fighting to look at the racks? Don’t submit your stuff to just anyone – carefully choose a store that has a clientele that will take an interest in what you have to sell. Consider a national chain consignment store, such as Plato’s Closet or Buffalo’s Exchange. They will be pickier with what they take, but more people will see your items.

2. Read the rules. Consignment shops have varying rules from how long their selling period is (between 30 and 45 days on average) , what their cut of the profits are (30 – 40 percent) , what they d0 with the items after that period has passed (donate to charity or return to you), how many pieces they take at a time (15 -30), and what seasons they accept what styles (one season ahead). Carefully read these rules and policies before signing anything or handing anyone your precious clothes.

3. Stick with designer pieces. You may love that obscure furry top, however it’s going to sell for $3 or less in a consignment shop. Consignments shops are super brand-name focused – people don’t want to buy your old junk with no name on it. If the piece’s home was in a mall, chances are it can sell in a consignment shop.

4. Don’t bother with heavily worn items. Even if the pieces has no stains/holes/etc., if the fabric feels loose, thin, and faded, a consignment shop is not going to take it and you’re better off selling it on eBay after all (clearly labeling it a used item) or donating it.

5. Clean it up. The consignment shop isn’t going to do it for you, they’re simply going to hang it on a rack. Since you obviously want to make money, give the piece a good washing, ironing, and lint rolling. The better it looks, the more you’ll make.

6. Submit items designed in the last three years. There’s a reason that consignment shops don’t take suits anymore – because no one wears them. To you, it may be vintage, but to the average consignment shop, it’s just old. The newer the piece, the better. When you shop for clothes, do you look for old junk or fresh pieces?

 

 

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The Italian Faux Pas

I still remember the first time my Italian professor showed up in the same outfit she had worn the day before; her hair piled up high on her dark-haired head above the purple blouse and funny purple cropped pants atop her Italian leather heels. 

My class of nine whispered among ourselves – had she had a one-night-stand? We knew she was single. Did she think we wouldn’t notice that she had worn the same purple outfit yesterday? 

However, it wasn’t the first time that our signora showed up to class in a duplicate of the outfit she wore the day before. Actually, it became so commonplace that we all started to do it a little bit too as our time in Florence wore on and it became more and more evident that this was the norm and not the result of a misplaced one-night-stand. 

If you ever had the good fortune of opening an Italian woman’s closet, you would be surprised to see that there isn’t much in there. Unlike my American closet stuffed to the brim to coincide the boxes of winter clothes under my bed (and in the attic), Italian women have small closets with lots of beautiful things. You will not find a trunk full of items bedazzled with last year’s trends or cheap, holey shirts from Forever 21 – instead, you will find chic, classic pieces that were meant to last a lifetime and have the price tag to prove it. 

In America, it’s a major faux pas to wear the same outfit twice in two days or even twice in one week – I feel a little funny even when I come across a Facebook photo of me wearing the same ensemble on two separate occasions; like my womanly secret has been given away. In Italy, the opposite is true – because if it looked good today, why not wear it again tomorrow? 

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And maybe that’s how our budgets across pond lines even out – in America, we drop dollars on tons and tons of cheap pieces to fill up our walk-in closets and one season later, we send it off to Salvation Army or our little sisters and start the process all over again. Our big closets make us fill obligated to wear it all, and we’re constantly on the lookout for the newest ensemble using our boring, run-of-the-mill items so that we can chase after the celebrities we yearn for. However, in Italy, tiny closets filled with designer pieces are adorned with beautiful details and it actually becomes easier to put something interesting together – even if you wear it the next day, too. 

Somehow, a couple weeks in, arguably, the most fashionable country in the world can make a purple outfit worn day after day seem chic – even to a group of nine bratty American college students. We stopped whispering about our signora soon after that, although I don’t think she noticed nor cared in the first place. 

I’m wearing the same outfit I wore on Friday tomorrow – and I dare you to point it out. 

This is Why I Hate Crop Tops

Because it just isn’t fair.

If you don’t live in a bubble, you have probably noticed the sudden influx of cute crop tops in every clothing store or site that you have a peek in. I’m sure you have spotted those that are floral, lace, denim, leather, and everything in between. And I’m sure that you have also noticed that eureka, they match all these great pieces!

From high waisted jeans to leather A-line skirts and then back boyfriend shorts, crop tops seem the go-to to pair with this spring’s best ensembles. But the real question is this… who can wear them?

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Damn you.

I’ll tell you who it isn’t – pretty much anyone over a size two. If you aren’t long and lean enough or tall enough or skinny enough or have curves in the exactly right places, crop tops are going to look downright ridiculous on you, and that is very sad indeed. Trust me, I have tried. I bought the leather A-line. I bought the maxi skirt. I bought the vintage high-waisted shorts. And all of them looked the same on me – ridiculous. Why? Because I am a size four… and that makes me sad.

Now, those items are on consignment at the shop down the street, and I will be lucky if I get a quarter of what I paid back for them. So what is the lesson learned here?

Investing in trendy, of-the-moment pieces needs to be thoroughly thought through before you take out your wallet. 

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Don’t get me wrong – I have splurged, like everyone else, on a high-low dress, a tribal-print skirt, and way too many bandeaus. However, before purchase, really consider if this is a trend of the moment or if it is a piece that once it goes out of style, it can be refurbished and used for something else (like a bandeau… and not a tribal skirt).

Also, in the dressing room, be realistic with yourself. Is this something you are actually going to wear, and enjoy wearing? Or is it going to make you feel self-conscious and weird for the one season you wear/doubt? Because I know for me… the crop top is going to the consignment shop, too. For me, the crop top truly encompasses the want to wear something that you may look kind of silly in, and the girl you hate looks pretty awesome in.

What kinds of trendy pieces have you purchased and later regretted?

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Life is not fair.