Secondhand First: Organizing and Consignment

Helping clients offload belongings that no longer serve them is a big part of being an organizer. It can be an emotional process, especially in the closet. For some items, the answer is clear: trash this; donate that. But people often have difficulty with high-quality and like-new pieces that they no longer wear. Maybe it was expensive, or it’s a designer piece, or still has the tags on because they never wore it. Getting rid of these types of clothes can bring feelings of grief, shame, and frustration, which is why having someone to guide you through the process of streamlining your closet can be hugely beneficial. One of the options I suggest for these items is consignment.

When getting organized, consigning clothing offers some real benefits. Consignment gives you the opportunity to make a little money on items that are clogging up you closet while giving you back valuable storage real estate for the pieces you really love, all while doing better by the environment by not throwing anything in the trash.  I try to remind my clients that holding onto items that aren’t serving them any longer does no one any favors. The money is a sunk cost at the moment of purchase, not discard, and giving items an opportunity for a second life elsewhere which is the best form of waste mitigation.

My first purchases from   Thred Up

My first purchases from Thred Up

There may be a physical consignment store nearby to which you can take your items, but in the age of virtual everything, consignment has gone online too. The top two online consignment players at the moment are The Real Real for high end designer pieces and ThredUp for all types of brands in good resale condition. You can mail in your items, which gets them out of your space quickly (a big plus compared to self-sale sites where you may be holding onto things waiting for them to sell). ThredUp will review submissions and any that aren’t accepted will be donated or recycled which is a win either way!  You can send high end designer duds that maybe aren’t your jam anymore to The Real Real where they authenticate each item and cut you in on the sale.

Another great feature of consignment is participating in the second hand retail market. When you streamline your wardrobe, you gain a clearer picture of what you’re actually using and wearing. This also allows you to better identify the holes in your wardrobe so you can more mindfully fill them. After figuring what you actually use and actually need, a great resource to fill those holes is, you guessed it, consignment. Someone else’s discard may be exactly what you’re looking for and buying previously owned garments prevents the waste of just one more item being produced unnecessarily.

One in, one out! The pile of items for consignment after picking up some new tops.

One in, one out! The pile of items for consignment after picking up some new tops.

Thrift stores have never really been my thing, so if you’re reticent, I understand. But the online consignment experience offers a more thorough vetting process of items, the ability to search for specific things, and use filters to browse. It feels like shopping on any retail site, and after selling and purchasing on ThredUp and The Real Real, I am totally on board! I have been sending in items to sell on these sites for a while, but I recently made my first purchase on ThredUp and I am thrilled with what I got; three beautiful, silk blouses, in excellent condition at a fraction of the retail cost.

Along with secondhand shopping, the clothing rental economy has also really taken off.  Renting items is a means to keep your wardrobe fresh with new looks or wear something out of your usual price range for a special occasion. I recently gave Rent the Runway’s unlimited service a shot during a busy event time. For a flat monthly fee, you can select four looks at a time and swap them out unlimited times throughout your membership. I personally don’t think I’ll need to hang onto the service all year, (I’m not that fancy, but you may be!) but for busy times with lots of different events (weddings, showers, birthdays, holidays, etc.), it’s brilliant! An added is bonus is they offer you to purchase the items you’ve rented at a steep discount, so if you really fall in love with something, it can be yours and you’ve gone secondhand again!

After having great experiences with these consignment and rental companies, I'm really going to make a concerted effort to look to #secondhandfirst when I’m shopping and head for rentals when I have events that need something special. What do you think? Will you give second hand first and renting a try? Let me know your thoughts! 

For more reasons why #secondhandfirst is a great option for clearing out your closet, shopping on a budget, and helping the environment check out this list from ThredUp!

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