I don’t like spending a lot of money on clothes. About 10 years ago, when the term “Recessionista” started getting thrown around on TV, I laughed out loud. I LOLed. The “new, hot trend” they were discussing, of wearing clothing from less expensive retailers, such as Old Navy, Target, and – dare I say it – Walmart, was how I’d been living my entire life! I want to throw things every time I read a magazine article that touts a $200 flip flop as a “bargain”.
Before I continue, I feel it necessary to clarify that I am NOT condemning those who buy expensive clothing. That is their choice and their business. What I am criticizing is the zombie-like fascination some media outlets have with high-end clothing and the insistence that not only should we be emptying our bank accounts for the latest Concheska Bewbwella purse (remember that name; I’m going to design under that name), but that if we do not do so, we are somehow lesser. We all know that is not the case.
So, here is my big secret to probably half of my wardrobe, which nearly always gets compliments.
About five years ago, thanks to an immaculately-dressed mentor of mine who passed down the sacred knowledge to me, I discovered consignment stores! This is the secret to my fashion success!
I hear some of you out there with your doubts – “clothing that someone else has already owned? How is that any different from Goodwill?” In some cases, it’s not – I’ve found J.Crew at thrift stores before. The big difference is that thrift stores accept almost anything (I don’t mean that in a hateful way – they serve a wonderful purpose), whereas consignment stores have to vet the clothing they put out. Generally, the clothes are clean, well maintained, recent fashions, and higher-end. They might cost a bit more than what you’d find at a thrift store, but not always.
Believe it or not, shopping at consignment stores is good for the environment and the economy – the environment because you’re making use of clothing that has already been made rather than purchasing something new, and the economy because lots of these consignment stores are small businesses, locally-owned and operated.
There are a few tips I have if you’ve never used consignment stores to buy clothing. I now pass the sacred knowledge to you:
• Go often: Stock changes regularly. Many retailers will only put out goods that match the current season.
• Pay attention to sale signs: My favorite stores have a different colored tag on every item, and each day, discounts are attached to certain colors. Yellow might give a 20% discount today, but later in the week or next month, it could be 50%.
• Get friendly with the staff: As someone who has worked retail, I mean actually be friendly. Don’t fake it – they can smell your fear. They might be able tell you about sales, social media promotions or other insider knowledge. They might even be willing to barter with you, but every store is different – remember, the owner will have much more leeway than a cashier.
• Be flexible: consignment shopping can be really difficult if you’re looking for something very particular. It’s best to go when you have only a basic idea of what you’re looking for. If you specifically need a certain fit of jeans in a certain wash, you’re pressing your luck. (Yes, I’m speaking from
So there you have it! You’re ready, my little ballet flat. Go forth, be trendy, and share the sacred knowledge…or keep the bargains to yourself!
Writer Bio: Amy Tallmadge lives in the Atlanta, Georgia area, with her husband, her two cats, and multiple incomplete craft projects. She is originally from Saskatchewan, Canada, and frequently works as an actress, voice over artist, audiobook narrator, and other fun creative things.