Spring Clean and Sell Your Clothes to Make a Profit

spring cleaning

“One person’s trash is another person’s treasure” the saying goes. So why not get cash for those sartorial treasures of yours that were new to you then and can now become “new” to someone else? Recycling fashion is easier than ever — whether you do it online or in person. And you can really clean up from cleaning out your closet; depending on the type of clothing you own and how much you want to resell, you could earn anywhere from $30 to hundreds of dollars per item.

Here’s everything you need to know about resale and consignment to get the most back — from choosing the most sellable pieces of your wardrobe to finding the right places to resell your clothes and accessories. 

What’s Old is New Again

What’s Old is New Again

“One person’s trash is another person’s treasure” the saying goes. So why not get cash for those sartorial treasures of yours that were new to you then and can now become “new” to someone else? Recycling fashion is easier than ever — whether you do it online or in person. And you can really clean up from cleaning out your closet; depending on the type of clothing you own and how much you want to resell, you could earn anywhere from $30 to hundreds of dollars per item.

Here’s everything you need to know about resale and consignment to get the most back — from choosing the most sellable pieces of your wardrobe to finding the right places to resell your clothes and accessories. 

Should You Resell or Consign?

Should You Resell or Consign?

What’s the difference between consignment and resale?

  • Consigning items to a store will give you profit after the item is sold, and some require you to sign an agreement that they hold it for a period of time, on average three months.
  • Online consignment happens in a similar fashion, but since it’s online will reach a larger audience.
  • Resale refers to stores that buy your items right away for cash or store credit and this can be done either online or in person. 
  • Resale online works two ways: either you post your own items and determine your price point, or the online seller will do all the selling for you (from setting the price point to posting the listings) and will take a cut of the money earned as a fee.  
  • Resale brick and mortar shops tend to price items lower to sell quicker whereas consignment price points tend to be higher and may take 30-90 days to sell and for you to receive your profit.

A word of warning: any clothing that’s beyond repair, worn, stained or in such bad condition that you couldn’t wear it again should never go to be resold. Consider recycling or donating these pieces instead. 

What to Consider Before You Sell

What to Consider Before You Sell

Season: Check with the resale resource first, whether online or in-store, to see if they are buying the current season. Most do not accept wool coats in March for example — they are usually buying spring trench coats then. As a general rule: Resale shops accept items for the spring season in March, summer items in May, fall items in September and winter items in November and December. If a store or online resource indicates “Modern” this means items from the last 1 to 3 years, either new, worn once or never worn with tags still on.

Condition: 

  • High-end clothing must be in excellent condition.
  • Mid-level/contemporary to low-level clothing should not be pilled, torn (with the exception of jeans), stained or permanently wrinkled. 
  • Shoes need to be clean inside, heels not torn and no holes in the soles. 
  • Handbags may have no ink marks or frayed edges, and their linings must be intact.
  • Bags and shoes in real leather will sell for more than faux. 
  • If the tags are still on, even better. You can make more on shoes and clothes that were never worn.

Resale stores: Each buyer’s eye is different. Get to know the shop and the owner and ask them what they are looking for. Review what they carry month to month to see if what you own fits in. For example, some buyers want more modern, slick and clean looks while others prefer a more retro-feminine feel. Some will do a mix of both, depending on what trends they feel are current for their target clientele.

Most online resale consignment sources like Second Time Around or the Real Real will feature a list of designers or criteria they accept and will highlight current trends to help you determine what will sell.

Not sure what to resell where? We break down the best places to resell or consign your high-end, mid-range, low-end and vintage clothing and accessories in the pages ahead.

High-end Clothing

High-end Clothing

What: Look for clothing in your closet with labels like: Burberry, Miu Miu, Dolce and Gabbana or new designers like Phillip Lim, Zac Posen and Rodarte. They generally retail anywhere from $450-$3,500 or up. Purses: Chanel bags (new or vintage) are the most coveted in the resale space, but Hermes Birkin bags and Louis Vuittons work too. Look for shoes with luxury labels like Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo.

Why sell? For you to determine what’s worth selling from this category of your clothing is up to you and your style personality. If you must have the newest designer handbag, then reselling last year’s could be key for you to covet this year’s edition. Or, if your tastes have evolved to be more classic and conservative and you want to invest in a classic black Prada bag, for example, it may be worth selling off a trendier bag you currently own to help make the change.

How to profit: Consignment will typically offer 30-50 percent of what they would resell it for. So, for example, I had a client selling her Reed Krakoff bag from last spring and it retailed for $1,290. The price the store Eleven in Brooklyn, N.Y., will retail it for is around $450 to $550, so my client will gain a $225 to $275 profit after the item has sold. That offer may be lower if you decide to resell on the spot and receive cash or a check that same day.

Every luxury buyer has a different offer, so it’s good to get a second opinion. There is no pressure for you to sell it right there; the first visit opens the bargaining conversation. Make a note of their offer, then do some online research to get a second estimate so you can see who will offer you the best profit both online and in-store.

Where to Sell Online: 

Where to Sell In-Store:

  • New York: INA is internationally known and has both in-store and online options for reselling your designer wares.
  • St Louis: Women’s Closet Exchange featured on the reality show “Resale Royalty”
  • Dallas: UPTOWN Consignment, the official shop of the show “Big Rich Texas.” 
Mid-range and Trendy or Contemporary Clothing

Mid-range and Trendy or Contemporary Clothing

What: Retailing from $99-$699, look for clothing in your closet with labels like: Diane Von Furstenberg, Helmut Lang, Vince, Banana Republic, Club Monaco, Zara or Ann Taylor. For denim consider: JBrand, AG (Adriano Goldschmied) and 7 for all mankind jeans or their equivalent. Note that leather items that fall into a slightly higher price range (from $899-$1,300) from these labels are worth more. Look for shoes from brands like: Cole Haan, Frye, Vince Camuto or Kenneth Cole and handbags from labels like: Coach, Kate Spade or Dooney & Bourke.

Why sell? The majority of your clothing may fall into this category, and the reason why you sell may come down to its cycle of use. If you’ve had a piece of clothing for two years and you are still not wearing it, you never will. I call it “love it or leave it.” If it’s not making you happy now, it never will. Better to bid it farewell and say hello to a new blazer or dress that will bring you joy.

How to Profit: If you choose to drop off to a resale shop, ask them what their terms are. Some resale shops like Pony in Brooklyn, N.Y., will review your items overnight. Other shops allow you to drop off and pick up the same day, but may have long waits on weekends, so it’s usually best to drop them off during the week if you can.

On average, they will determine what price point they will sell it for, then offer you around 30 to 50 percent of their retail price. For example, my client Angela outgrew her classic black DVF dress (literally it was just too small for her). DVF dresses normally retail around $495 and the resale shop may sell it for $195, so she will get $58.50 store credit. She could have also opted for $39 in cash, if she wanted. (You will typically get more for a store credit than if you opt for cash.)

Where to Sell Online: 

  • ThredUp will send a bag you can use to send them items. Then, they determine what they can resell online for you or donate to charity. You’ll receive an online credit to shop resale on their site or payment via paypal. This site is super sleek and they do all the photo-retouching and upload and feature items for you.

Where to Sell In-Store:

 

Low-end/Trendy

Low-end/Trendy

What: Look for clothing in your closet with labels like: H&M, The Limited, Levi’s Jeans or the Gap and shoes from Nine West, Bandolino, Adrianna Papell or Anne Klein. Look for handbags from Nine West, Aldo, Guess, or Tignanello.

Why sell? This range tends to include those lesser priced items that were trendy or an impulse buy that you only wore once or twice. I helped my client Jodie clear out many of these types of items that had been sitting in her closet at least five years. She wore these in her 20's but they conveyed "cutsie" rather than "womanly" and were no longer age-appropriate. 

How to Profit: This is a real numbers game since in this category it’s all about quantity. Bring in a big bag and they may sift through it and buy only half of what you bring in or less. Don’t be disappointed. Clothing in this price point goes out of style faster and gets worn out faster too. Be prepared to drop what doesn’t sell to Goodwill or Housing Works and get a receipt for a tax deduction, too. 
Here’s a quick calculation: If they sell a pair of your old Gap jeans for $19, you will typically get about 30 percent (or $5.70) or about 50 percent in store credit. So if you bring in a bag of 30 items, they may buy 10 items at their retail of $19 each, and you will make about $57 in cash or $95 store credit. Not bad.

Where to Sell Online: 

  • Twice will send you a bag and treat your selection as a bundle, so you get one set price for the whole lot. A bag holds 20-30 pieces and you may average $30-$50 for the bag.
  • ThredUp, as we mentioned earlier, will also send you a bag but they determine what they can resell online for you, or donate to charity. You receive an online credit to shop resale on their site or payment via paypal. They upload and feature items for you.

Where to Sell In-Store:

  • Buffalo Exchange has store locations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and more cities in the U.S. Their website has a locator map to find a resale shop near you.
Vintage or Thrift Shop Clothing

Vintage or Thrift Shop Clothing

What: "True vintage" means clothing, shoes, jewelry, hats or coats from the 1930s through the 1980s, though some vintage stores consider the 1990s for brands like Versace. Anything from the 1920s and before is considered “antique” and is museum quality. If you have pieces this old, you may want to reach out to your local museum if they have a costume museum section, like the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. 

Criteria for vintage takes a very trained eye and knowledge of designers and fashion history like Ossie Clark gowns from the ‘30s to Rudi Gernreich futuristic mod dresses of the ‘60s. And thanks to the movie “American Hustle,” 1970s vintage like Halston and Yves Saint Laurent gowns are back in vogue and are in demand in vintage stores.

Why sell? How to decide if you want to resell these items can be emotional, especially if the pieces were handed down from previous generations. Consider this if you’re comfortable letting go of family history and if you only wear the pieces once a year, or never, and they’re taking up unnecessary space in your closet and your mind.  If you are holding on to too many items and have no room for them, they could be better served elsewhere. 

Jewelry that has been handed down can carry a lot of meaning as well, so think twice and wisely before reselling for profit. These are usually unique pieces you can make modern again. If you do decide to resell, research the best vintage places by area code and get an appraisal from an expert at a museum that houses a costume section first as the store owners may have their profit in mind, and not necessarily your own.

How to Profit: Most stores will sell on consignment, but their goal is to invest in pieces that will sell within three months. Other stores will offer cash on the spot from 30 to 50 percent of what they can sell for it in store. For example, a vintage Halston jersey dress from the 1970s can sell for up to $1,000 at a vintage store, so you look to gain $500 from its sale if that store offers you 50 percent.

Where to Sell Online: 

  • Re-Fashioner: just send in a photo and they will let you know the value it will sell for approximately. Then you can send it in to them if that price is worth it to you.
  • If you would like more control over the process and have more time on your hands, you can check out Etsy or eBay for selling your vintage goods. Just keep in mind that this requires “opening your own store,” checking in regularly and shipping it out directly to the buyer. 

Where to Sell In-Store:

  • New York and Los Angeles: Resurrection has been a New York staple since 1996 and has locations now on both coasts. The merchandise is curated by its experienced and knowledgeable owners and pieces are selected for their integrity of quality and design.
You Might Also Like

You Might Also Like

Change Your Clothes and Your Mood
Never Worry About Your Work Wardrobe Again
11 Best Places to Sell Your Clutter for Cash

Join the Discussion