Tuesday, March 24, 2009

(Con)Sign Up: A Fashionista's Guide to Consignment Shopping

Fashionistas know that it's always stylish to get a deal on designer duds--but in a recession, it's more important than ever. I visited three consignment stores--stores that buy goods from customers and resell them at a discounted price--on the Upper East Side to see what deals I could find. These three stores all boast stocking only designer items, and while they're certainly not "cheap" if you're used to shopping at Old Navy, they do sell top quality stuff at sample sale prices.

FIRST STOP: Michael's, The Consignment Shop For Women
Location: 1041 Madison Avenue (at 79th Street)
Overview: Michael's probably has the best selection of Chanel jackets (most averaging at 1k per jacket), a wide array of shoes (mostly proper pumps and such for working women), and even a wedding collection in the back.
The Highlights:

1. This Chanel jacket has a distressed quality that fits in with the current disheveled mood in fashion:

2. I purchased this Chloe blouse, which features pointy sleeves and ruffles:

3. This Oscar de la Renta dress was hard to pass up, but it was too big. The tribal detailing on this dress is right on trend with the au currant ethnic/exotic craze ($650):

4. I remember drooling over this Burberry Prorsum green silk dress the first time I saw it, but alas, at $2,500, it's still too steep for me:

SECOND STOP: Encore, the Premier Consignment Shop for Designer Clothing
Location: 1132 Madison Avenue (between 84th and 85th)
The Overview: Encore's clothing selection was quite conservative and lackluster; however, their bag selection was outstanding.

The Highlights:

1. I love the military detailing on this Chanel jacket ($850):

2. Their bag display:

The green crocodile Prada bag (seen below) costs a still-hefty $7,500. They also had a YSL patent drawstring bag for $700 and another top-handle YSL bag for $1,100:

3. A Chloe top with beading ($105):

Part of their shoe collection:

LAST STOP: La Boutique Resale
1045 Madison Avenue (at 80th); other locations include 803 Lexington Avenue (corner of 62nd) and 227 East 81st Street (between 2nd and 3rd)
The Overview: This place had the least appealing clothes, but they did have a handful of nice bags (they had three Louis Vuitton bags on display). Oddly enough, I did find two outstanding black jackets for about 85-90% off the retail price. According to the saleslady, both--including a white and black polka dot dress from Oscar de la Renta--were from the same lady. I have to say though that of all of the three shops, the saleslady at this one was by far the nicest.

My Finds:
1. This taffeta Oscar de la Renta jacket will go nicely with nearly everything from skirts, dresses, to jeans:

2. I love the military detailing on this Chloe jacket:

SOME HELPFUL TIPS about consignment shopping:

1. Know Prices. Some of the tags listed the retail price, but be sure to know how much things cost so you know you're getting a deal. Items that are more recent (i.e. from last season's collection) tend to cost more than older items (that's why that Burberry dress was so high). In the past, stores rarely went higher than 65-75% off; last season we saw ridiculously reduced sales (85-90% in some cases). While you're certainly getting a discount with consignment stores, keep in mind that many of the prices are like sample sale/end-of-the-season liquidation sale prices.
2. Inspect Your Items. These stores do not have a refund policy, so make sure each item's defect (if it exists) is something you can live with.
3. Get Calls. The saleslady at the last boutique told me that she'd call if that mystery woman brought in any more items. We're the same size and I like her style--chances are I'll want to buy her things again.
4. Frequently Visit. These stores get new merchandise in every day, and items come and go quickly. As one store window's display put it, "The treasure you see here today might not be here tomorrow."
5. Shop Shrewdly. Despite the caveat in the previous tip, don't fall into the lure to buy just because it's a consignment store. Apply the same rules of shopping that you normally use: Do you love it? Will you use it? Does it look amazing on you?


Kody said...

Thanks for the great advice.

birdie butter said...

Great tips ... really love the blog. Your style is impeccable!

The Little Fashion Treasury said...


WendyB said...

The Chloe blouse is AWESOME.

FJ said...

Ahh so that's where you get your designer items. I wish we had some good consignment shops here in Houston.

Anonymous said...

What a interesting shopping, walking together with your guidance. Pricewise, some of them is still too high,but it is matter of search tools, I assume.

Anonymous said...

Loved & agreed with your fashion sense & taste. Enjoy your jackets.

-h said...

i want to start looking through the consignment and vintage shops here. a lot of people have had to unload and downsize because of madoff...

Nini Nguyen said...

Oh wow... This is a great post. I really want to visit one of the consignment store while I'm there. Is there one in Soho? Love your Chloe blouse... Have a nice day Thumbelina..

Robynne said...

Military Chanel Jacket= SO beautiful!! Oh I want one so badly! :(

-Fashion on Edge

Diabolina Da Fashionista said...

this post is exactly what i needed for my trip. my friends know nothing of resale. SO SAD i didn't read it while i was in NYC.


Y.O.Y.O. said...

OMG awesome finds! I wish I lived in NYC. I need to some stores like this in LA area! Thanks for the tips!