How to Buy Nine Shirts for $23.52*

*including two cashmere sweaters

“Nice shirt,” my friend Kat said.  I used to work with Kat, back when I worked in an office.  Now I work at home and have nobody to admire my shirts.

“Thank you,” I replied.  Then I added the thing I always say, “it’s used.”

A few years ago I’ve gotten into consignment shops for clothes shopping.  Right around 2008-9, when the economy wasn’t so hot, these shops were popping up everywhere, it seemed.  There was a designer consignment shop near my former workplace, where only high end designer brands were allowed. I went in there once.  I don’t really care much about brand names and designers.  So I couldn’t see spending high prices on used clothing just because it has a fancy label on the inside.

I prefer to stick to the low key consignment shops.  There were two in my town.  One of them closed; now it’s an aquarium supply store.  (Bummer for me, but great for my husband and his salt water fish tank.)  The other one, D’s Walk In Closet, is still around.  She’s moved her store three times since I’ve been going there.  She’s moving again at the end of this month.

Sometimes I go in there and bring armloads of items into the fitting room with me and end up taking most of them home.  Other times I go in there, with an armload into the fitting room, and end up with nothing.  Just like I would at TJ Maxx.  But the way to score at consignment shops is to sell your stuff there.  That’s the big advantage that consignment has over TJ Maxx.

Last fall I brought in a few bags of clothes and shoes.  That’s the thing about consignment, you have to work with their seasons.  Normally you’d clean your closet out after the season is over and get rid of the stuff you didn’t wear, right?  With consignment it’s opposite of that.  So, in the fall I would bring in winter clothes to consign.  At the beginning of spring, right around now actually, I’d bring in spring/summer clothes.  The D tags them and puts them out to sell.  She keeps a log of which items of mine sold and gives me store credit or cash for the ones that sold.

Last night after work I went in to hit the end of season clearance sale.  I always ride the clearance racks at every store I go to, and I hit up D’s when she is clearing out after each season.  (She’s also clearing out so she can move.) 

When I walked in she checked her log, “Hi BJ, you have $56.”  Sweet.  Everything was 50% off, I could score with $56.  I always start with the shirts, because that’s the rack closest to the door.  I brought my usual armload into the fitting room.  Yes… no… no… no…. yes… yes… yes… yes….

OK, armload of jeans.  Because who doesn’t love pre-broken in jeans?  No… no… no… no…. no dice on jeans today.

Wait, there are more sweaters over here.  Holy crap, these are cashmere at 15 bucks each.  They are in perfect condition.  Take them into the fitting room.  Yes and yes. 

I piled up everything on the counter, she deducted my credit and I paid $23.52 out of pocket for 9 tops.  Funny, I’d just gotten a Stitchfix box yesterday too.  I ended up mailing everything back because nothing fit right.  One shirt alone in that Stitchfix box was $58.

The great thing about shopping consignment is that I tend to try things on that I never would pick otherwise.  Like this silk shirt with the Mandarin collar?  I totally rock this shirt.

consignment silk shirt

Seriously, if you haven't tried consigning, do it!

BJ Knapp is the author of Beside the Music, available for purchase here. Please sign up for the Backstage with BJ Knapp mailing list to get updates on events, signings, dog pictures and so much more.

added on 02.19.16

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