Do you have too many clothes and too little room in your closet? It’s a common problem, which is why taking stock of your wardrobe now and then is a good idea. One way to get rid of excess items is to donate them to your local thrift store. This is generous, and will, in most cases, earn you a receipt for a possible tax credit. For more immediate returns, however, selling your clothes online is the way to go. Your prom dress collecting dust in the attic? There’s a millennial fashionista out there who’d snap it up in a second. Conversely, if you’re looking to update your wardrobe, there are numerous online resale shops that let you buy clothing from popular brands and individual sellers. Keep reading for tips on how to do both.
Consignment shops — a.k.a. stores selling gently used designer clothing at discounted prices — have existed for decades. But the internet has introduced the joys of consignment shopping to a much broader audience. The RealReal, one of the most popular online consignment stores, has a truly dizzying selection of designer clothes, shoes, bags, and even home goods. If you can name an expensive designer, chances are The RealReal sells it — and at a steep discount, no less.
One of my favorite things about The RealReal is that you get a $25 site credit when you join. Once you have an account, you’ll regularly receive additional $25 credits, and enjoy curated sales that offer discounts of up to 80 percent. You can create your own homepage for items you love, and if you see something you like, you can save it to your “Obsessions” and check in on it periodically before buying, as the prices usually go down over time.
I don’t have surplus of designer clothes I’m looking to sell, but if I did, I would sign up at The RealReal’s consignor page. They’ll pick up the clothes you want to sell — you can also ship them or drop them off at one of their stores across the country — and you’ll earn up to 85 percent of the selling price.
Looking to buy and sell used clothing at a discount but don’t care as much about a fancy label? While a consignment site like The RealReal acts as a middleman for selling your clothes (since products have to be vetted and appraised accordingly), sites like Poshmark, Depop, and Mercari allow you to sell directly from your closet. These resale sites have a low barrier to entry — just make an account, snap some photos of the piece you’re planning to sell (phone photos work fine, if you make sure they’re well-lit and not blurry), write a quick description, and sit back and wait. There’s no guarantee your garment will sell immediately, of course, but once it does, these sites offer easy shipping instructions that ensure your package is delivered and you’re paid quickly. You can also accept offers on items you are selling, and make offers on things you want to buy, which adds an interactive element to the shopping experience and might just get you a nice discount on a piece you’ve been eyeing.
An Old-School Standby
Ah, eBay. The leader in online auctions for 25 years, their site looks nearly the same as it did in the ’90s. You can find pretty much anything on eBay, from rare coins to electronics to a random issue of a teen magazine you remember reading decades ago. eBay also has a great selection of clothes from all sorts of designers. It’s not as thoughtfully presented as a consignment shop, but that’s part of the fun. eBay is all about digging in and finding hidden gems at bargain prices.
While eBay is traditionally an auction site, some sellers allow users to “Buy it now” and will often include a “Best offer” option. If you save an item to your watchlist, the seller might reach out to you to offer a special discount. Auctions can get intense if there are a lot of people bidding — but that’s part of the fun! If you see a piece you love offered on auction, go for it. Just make sure you have an upper limit in mind for what you’re willing to spend so you don’t get too caught up in the competition and spend more than you intended. Also, if you want to follow specific designers, it’s easy to set up an alert and get an email notification whenever new items matching your keyword are listed.
Since eBay’s been around so long, they have extensive guidelines for how to sell on the site. Some users have been auctioning off items there for 20 years, so you know it’s a reliable place to buy and sell. Sellers are also given star ratings by buyers, and eBay encourages shoppers to give feedback, so it’s easy to vet your potential purchases.
Bonus: Online Shopping Tips
If there’s a designer you love, you don’t have to check all of the above sites individually for their items. The site Gem acts as a general search engine for all things vintage fashion. You can type in a designer you want and Gem brings together results from all of the sites mentioned above, plus other resale sites like Etsy and Grailed, as well as individual websites of vintage shops. Review the images and descriptions carefully. If the description says your dream dress has a flaw, consider whether you’re still willing to buy it.
Making offers is fun, but while it’s tempting to ask for a steep discount, don’t lowball too aggressively. A seller can always counteroffer, and a lot of times they aren’t willing to go below a certain price. Still, once you make an offer, you can have a conversation with them; just be sure to keep everything professional and respectful.
Finally, confirm ahead of time that you know your bust, waist, hip, and inseam measurements. This is particularly important if you’re buying vintage or designer clothing, as sizing can vary greatly, and knowing your measurements is the safest way to ensure a perfect fit.
Not only is buying used a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly option than buying new, one woman’s trash is often another woman’s treasure — so give someone else the opportunity to strike gold with your discarded items today.