As promised, here’s part two of the shopping lexicon covering consignment and vintage shops, the internet and more. Part I appeared in July and linked at https://travelindigo.wordpress.com/2014/07/16/part-1-how-to-shop-second-hand-first/
Hope you find it useful.
What you’re likely to find: Consignment shops (and vintage shops) are the upscale cousins to resale and charity shops. For one thing, items are not donated but “sold” through the shop. Say you have some items you’re ready to part with but they were designer wear and you are not feeling like just donating them. You can sell them in a consignment shop where the owner of the shop helps you price and keeps a certain percentage.
There’s a kind of subset of consignment where your merchandise is actually bought by the store. Buffalo Exchange is a shop like this. See http://www.buffaloexchange.com/how for more.
There are consignment shops for women, men, and kids. Consignment owners generally inspect items carefully and only take things that look “nearly new.” I did quite a bit of kids’ consignment shopping when I had small children – great bargains here. Many women’s consignment stores I’ve seen are more “upscale”, tending to carry designer or near designer wear. But there’s a great little women’s/kids consignment store near my library and I’ve found a few gems there, more reasonably priced than my local Goodwill!
Prices: Can be less what you pay at a large chain (see note above) although obviously the high end stores will be more expensive. Generally good value for the label(s) on sale at these. Look for sales racks and season end sales.
Vintage and specialty
What you’re likely to find: Vintage and specialty shops are the most heavily curated and selective. At these shops you will find beautiful well-made clothing from “vintage” eras, now creeping into the 70’s I believe. “Vintage” as a descriptor is somewhat losing its meaning as some contemporary clothing is called “vintage”. To be truly vintage article, the piece must be 50 years old or older. The latest “vintage” dress from Anthropologie, cute as it is, will not be found in in a true vintage clothing shop. The older vintage articles tend to be better made than current clothing and use more natural fabrics. A well-curated collection has reviewed the clothing for wear and damage.
Prices: Depending on what you’re looking at, prices may be very high, well into the hundreds of dollars in some cases in some shops.
Internet: Ebay, Etsy, Etc.
What you’re likely to find: The internet is the wild west of fashion. Pretty much everyone has found a way to sell stuff through ebay, etsy or just on their own. The upside is that there is so much available from contemporary fashion to designer duds to vintage classics. The downside is so much is available and it’s difficult to sort through everything. It may be best to use the search functions if you are looking for a specific item rather than just “browsing” (I’ve lost plenty of hours to that activity!). Just an example, I searched e-bay for “vintage sandals size 7” and got 145 hits; and 1500 on etsy (though I doubt some of those to be “vintage”). I also just recently got pointed to an online consignment shop called “ThredUp” with more contemporary fashions http://www.thredup.com/ (96 pairs of shoes).
Prices: You can find some good bargains on the internet and also be hooked into spending way too much money. If you have your heart set on something, do your research first to see if you can get a sense of the going rate or previous sales and then budget accordingly.
Finally probably my favorite, most random and cheapest (FREE) way to get new to me clothes is through a clothes swap or “naked lady” party. You or the appointed hostess, pick a date and time and send out invitations to friends, preferably roughly the same size and shape directing them to bring their good but gently used cast-offs. Don’t be put off if everyone you know is a different size –I’m 5’2 and do not have many 5’2 friends, nonetheless I have gotten a number of treasures from clothes swaps. Invite enough people to get about 10 attendees — which is ideal. Attendees are instructed to bring clothes they want to swap, and anything else (jewelry, shoes, etc.). The hostess can serve refreshments, or not although it’s fun to swap with a little beverage and knoshes as it’s meant to be a social as well as swap event.
Depending on the hostess and her level of organization you can either organize things by size or item (all skirts, all shoes, etc.) I’ve been to some where we’ve pretty much dumped everything in a pile and to others where items were neatly hung, it’s all up to you and the space available although hanging items (like dresses and skirts) does make looking easier. There are no limits on what you bring (except that they be clean and in good shape) or how much you take.
Leftovers may be toted home by each attendee (you take home what doesn’t get swapped) or the hostess might agree to take all the items to a local charity.
Some of you may live where there are larger and more regular free swaps where you are swapping with folks you might not know. These can be fun and you may want to consider organizing one for your community. Here’s something about the Portland swaps http://swappositive.wordpress.com/ There are other swap options emerging all the time including online swaps but I haven’t experienced these myself.
For a great description of swaps and hosting swaps, go to this article on Bella’s blog, the Citizen Rosebud. http://www.thecitizenrosebud.com/2014/07/secondhand-first-tips-for-clothing-swaps.html
A couple of final notes:
Trying things on. In some of the larger, more established or upscale stores there will likely be changing rooms. But, be prepared for places with skimpy changing areas or none at all. I like to wear something I don’t mind standing in public in i.e., bike shorts and a sports bra, under my regular outfit, so I change in and out of items easily and get a sense of how they fit.
On fabrics. I am very picky about fiber content in my clothes so I tend to check labels for natural fibers. Tags are not always present and you can’t always tell by feel. There’s some very, very good imitation silk out there. Unfortunately the “best” way to test fiber content is by burning! something you wouldn’t want to do in a store. This obviously is a personal choice of what you want next to your skin.
It’s probably fair to say the older the item, the more likely it is made with a natural fiber (rayon was discovered/invented in the early 1900’s and called “viscose”. It’s natural insofar as it’s made from cellulose). Many synthetic fibers were invented in the 1950s and later so more recently made clothes have a good likelihood of containing some or all synthetic fiber. That said, some labels, like H and M tend to use synthetic material although they do have a special line of natural fiber clothing.
After shopping and bringing things home. First of all keep some hand sanitizer in your car or purse for the days you are resale shopping. I don’t do this at regular retail shops (probably should) but it’s good practice especially if the store has a lot of customers.
Second, I treat all items that come into the house. That usually means washing in hot water or dry cleaning. For items that can’t be washed or dry cleaned easily (hats and shoes), I put them in a plastic bag and freeze them for about a week or more. I also do this for wool items to insure that moths are killed. But remember, moths feed on dirty clothes, so cleaning first is important.
So there you have it, the incredible variety of ways you can shop while doing good (and saving money). I hope you enjoyed this post. Feel free to share with anyone you think might find it useful. If you’re ready to, you can take the the “second-hand first” pledge at http://www.thecitizenrosebud.com/p/blog-page.html.