You may remember that in 2019, I set a slow fashion goal for myself. My plan was I would buy luxury and better resale clothing and rent instead of buying for special occasions. It wound up being a very successful endeavor and one I have continued with. I still shop retail for some things but I would say that 90% of the clothing in my closet is from resale and consignment sites.
I wish I could say the sole motivation behind this plan was because the world is on fire and we need less in the landfills. Obviously, I care about the environment and it makes me happy to know that this way of shopping gives life to things that would otherwise die on a trash heap. But I’d be lying if I said this was the single driving force behind my decision. What really drives me is the fact that I love beautiful, expensive things and I don’t want to pay full price. Who does, really? I was raised by one of the biggest bargain shoppers on earth and despite the fact that I have the worst memories of standing around while my mother found her next gem on a sales rack, I do love the thrill that comes with getting something for a steal.
The other reason resale fashion has become so appealing to me is because fashion lately just hasn’t been doing it for and unless you want to drop serious money, most of the clothes out there right now are cheap, boring, safe, and unexceptional. I want to get excited about what I wear, even if it is just the t-shirt I put on or a simple pair of sneakers I wear. I want to feel good in my clothes and I want them to be a reflection of who I am. If that means I have to buy a resale luxury sweater for the same price that I would spend on a new blouse from Target, obviously, I’m going to buy the luxury sweater.
Let’s also add to the fact that 2021 was a rough year for all of manufacturing. Everyone became extremely knowledgeable about something called the ‘supply chain’ and, more specifically, how badly the pandemic messed it up. Stores had a hard time getting in new merchandise, designers and brands frantically pivoted as they tried to figure out how to dress their customers for the times while remaining true to their points of view. Fashion overcorrected and basically sold us nothing but joggers, oversized sweaters, and sweatshirts for a year as we all sat around with really nowhere to go anyway. Basically, fashion has been depressing for a while.
From a business standpoint, 2021 was a surprisingly good year for me. By all estimations, a business like mine shouldn’t have survived the pandemic considering I work primarily with professional women, the majority of whom went to work at home in 2020. My business hung on by a thread that year, but 2021 was one of my best years in a long time. As a result, I found myself in a position where I needed to do some wardrobe rebuilding for the simple fact that I didn’t have much of a budget for shopping in 2020 and because I needed to assess what I really needed in my closet now that my work has become almost entirely virtual. It was time to do some shopping and I hit all the resale sites instead of the stores.
MY RESALE PURCHASES IN 2021
I am going to take you through all the resale items I purchased in 2021, where I bought them, why I bought them, and my tips for shopping this way if you haven’t tried it yourself. If you have more questions or comments, leave them in the comments below. I am always looking for new places to find fantastic resale and consignment deals so if you have suggestions I’d love to hear about them.
Where I shopped
First, I will point out, I do not shop in physical consignment or thrift stores. I don’t have the time, mental bandwidth, or patience for sifting through racks and racks of clothing. It’s just not my style. I’m an HSP so stores like this basically shut my brain down. Plus, the only shopping time I really get for myself is when I’m doing some sort of a streaming binge in the evening and can shop from my phone. Shopping is my job, not my pastime. I’m not spending my days off doing what is considered work to me.
Normally I cycle between The RealReal and Poshmark. The RealReal fell off for me in 2021 only because I tend to shop there when I am in need of really luxe things, like the Akris pieces I purchased in 2019 for some professional and personal events. Not having as many of those types of events lately, I favored Poshmark over The RealReal in 2021. On Poshmark, I like that the seller sets their own prices, there is flexibility to negotiate with the seller on that price, and I also find the merchandise offering is much more robust than on The RealReal. The beauty of shopping on The RealReal is that I did reconsign an Akris Punto dress and jacket that I wore and loved and was ready to let go of. It’s a wonderful added benefit of buying better, when you’re done, you can just reconsign or resell it. I still love The RealReal, I just didn’t need to shop there as much in 2021.
Unless I was shopping retail at places like J.Crew or Quince, two sites I frequent most for basics, I was perusing Poshmark. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, the site could be better on some things, like their search feature (it sucks) and the fact that as with any glutted resale site, you often have to sift through heaps of garbage that actually does belong in a landfill. But it’s worth these pesky issues for what you get in return. I have a closet full of Aquatalia shoes and a drawer full of Vince sweaters all thanks to Poshmark.
The key is to go into shopping on Poshmark knowing which brands you are shopping for and using the site to buy from luxury brands you couldn’t otherwise afford or would rather not pay for at the full price. Personally, I don’t see the point of buying many budget-priced items on Poshmark unless you are on the hunt to replace something you already own, was damaged, lost, or you sized out of. By filtering all that unnecessary stuff out, you can shop the site a lot faster. Be specific when you search on Poshmark. Don’t just search for black cashmere sweaters, for example, because you’ll get inundated with a variety of styles from a variety of brands where some just aren’t worth buying at resale. Search instead for the normally out-of-reach brands to really take home some steals. There is the ability to choose specific brands when you search and it’s probably my most used feature on the site.
Next, negotiate on price. Most people don’t even know you can offer less than what the seller is selling an item for on Poshmark and nine times out of ten a seller will take my proposed offer for less. Obviously, you don’t want to be insulting with your counteroffer price but think about your last closet purge. You probably just wanted the stuff out of your life and not into a landfill. If your cast-offs got a good home that probably was good enough for you. Another tip on getting a good deal: Favorite the things you are interested in and then check back frequently in your Offers section under your account. Often, if a seller sees you liked an item, they will sometimes offer you a private discount and free shipping directly.
Scrutinize the merchandise and if you don’t see enough photos, ask for them. Also, read the descriptions clearly. The downside of Poshmark is you can’t return unless the seller misrepresented themselves. I go into this more in my post about buying shoes on Poshmark. More often than not, the seller isn’t trying to swindle you, they just didn’t think to photograph an important component of the piece or haven’t been clear enough in the description. Try asking for what you need before just giving up on the listing.
Eileen Fisher Renew
I really enjoyed shopping at Eileen Fisher Renew in 2021. The older I get, the more I am finding I enjoy her clothes, and given how much more casual my life has gotten, Elieen Fisher really hit that sweet spot for me. But Eileen Fisher can get expensive for casual clothes and their Renew program is a fantastic way to shop for well-maintained pieces at a fraction of the price. People who shop Eileen Fisher at retail can sell back their items for a shopping credit and shoppers of the Renew site reap the benefits of getting these pieces for much less. This model totally fits Eileen Fisher’s mission of more sustainable practices and I was incredibly pleased by the quality of the merchandise I received, how quickly I received it and the sustainability of the packaging used.
In 2019, I had lots of reasons to rent clothing. In 2021, not so much. But I did have a family christening party to attend at the height of when my bandwidth was already stretched too thin and I was realizing my need to simplify. I was laying in bed one very early morning going through my wardrobe in my head, wondering what I would wear to the party. Too over it to really bother thinking about it, I picked up my phone, scrolled through Rent the Runway, and reserved a dress for the event. It was done in 5 minutes. I also attended a wedding in July and rented a stunning yellow dress. This was right before I lost 20lbs. Another benefit of renting is you don’t have to worry about having a whole size range of dress sizes in your closet.
My closet literally has three dresses total in it. I have a slim need for dresses in my life and I would rather rent them so I can wear something different and interesting each time. Rent the Runway isn’t always the perfect solution but when it does work, it’s amazing. The best advice I can give when shopping on Rent the Runway is to not get too specific in your searches. It sounds counterintuitive but the more specific you get, the more limited the merchandise becomes, and what I have learned is Rent the Runway’s concept of what they think I would wear to an event and what I would wear are completely different. Also, read the reviews, look at the photos of real women wearing the clothing, and always get the backup size and possibly a second dress option if you can.
Where I Don’t Shop for Resale Fashion
No disrespect intended to those of you who have found great pieces on ThredUp, but that site throws me into a mental tailspin. While the site is no more or less glutted than Poshmark, I find the quality of merchandise to be much more downmarket and for that reason, I don’t see much of a point. When I help clients edit their closets, cast-offs get put into different categories and ThredUp is usually the place the cast-offs that have the least resale value go. Basically, for most of my clients, ThredUp is one step above the landfill, and one of the biggest reasons my clients send their clothes there is because the site makes it so easy to just dump clothes into a package or box and send it off. That’s a whole lot easier than lugging things to Goodwill or Salvation Army and unlike Poshmark where the seller has to do all the work, TredUp handles everything for you once your clothing leaves your hands. I also think ThredUp appeals to a much younger customer than I am and not being the target demographic is probably why I just don’t get the appeal.
M.M. Lafleur Second Act Resale
If you scroll all the way to the bottom of M.M. Lafleur’s website, you’ll find a link for M.M. Lafleur’s Second Act resale site where you can buy resale pieces at a fraction of the retail price. Unlike ThredUp, the reason I don’t shop on this site is simply that I have no reason to. Not having a professional job-job, I’ve never really needed to buy much at M.M. Lafleur for myself but I love shopping there with clients and if I did need this type of clothing, I would be a regular customer. M.M.’s clothes are smartly designed for the professional woman but they can be budget busters particularly for the young professional just starting to build her wardrobe. Shopping their Second Act site allows women with a smaller budget to shop there too.
Resale Items Purchased in 2021
Here is everything I purchased at resale in 2021.
On the surface, it may seem incredibly ridiculous to buy two pairs of Allbirds in the exact same color but you know I don’t buy anything that isn’t fully reasoned out. First, I started with the Allbirds Tree Runner lace-ups. Even though Allbirds would hardly be considered luxury shoes, my best friend, Cheryl, has been buying all her pairs on Poshmark and has a closet full of them. I figured I’d dip my toe in by testing them out at a reduced price. I chose a burgundy pair and immediately found they went with everything in my closet. When I ask for suggestions for an easy winter slip-on shoe, which I then blogged about here, someone mentioned the Allbirds Tree Loungers, a style I already had my eye on. So with my newfound love of Allbirds, I went back to Poshmark and saw there was a pair in my size in the same burgundy color. Considering my Tree Runners in that shade worked so well with everything in my closet, it made sense to me that I get the Loungers n the same shade. I have zero regrets.
I paid less for both these shoes than the cost of one pair of Allbirds Tree Runners at retail.
Aquatalia Booties and Shoes
In 2019, I bought three pairs of Aquatalia booties, became a complete convert and Aquatalia evangelist. I wear their boots exclusively and this year started buying their shoes. In 2021, it was time to further flesh out my collection and I went nuts. I bought three more pairs of booties, a pair of loafers, sandals for the summer, and their iconic low-heeled Pasha pumps in cognac. The motivation behind buying so many pairs of booties was noticing I was wearing my one favorite pair of booties I purchased in 2019 so often that I didn’t want to wear them into the ground too quickly. By bringing in more pairs, I could spread my wears out over more pairs vs. less. This would be called splitting your wears for a good reason.
The price of Aquatalia shoes and booties ranges between $295 to $550 per pair. The total I paid for all six pairs of shoes above was $354 and quite a few of the pairs I purchased were brand new and never worn.
I love the brand Vince but sometimes even I have a hard time wrapping my head around their prices because who doesn’t want to open their drawer to find a stack of their sweaters staring back at them? So, just like I was brand loyal to Aquatalia, I went deep with Vince sweaters in 2021. Every style pictured is from Vince and the styles on the left are for more casual use, like a day of errand running or hanging out. I can’t imagine I’d ever wear that coral and grey cashmere sweater to do anything more than run around my neighborhood or be home. The sweaters on the right can also be worn casually but can also be dressed up a bit.
Each of these sweaters is either 100% cashmere or is a cashmere blend which puts them in a price range between $295 and $350-ish.
I spent a total of $193 on all six of them.
Uniqlo Chester Coat
I came to Uniqlo’s Chester wool/cashmere coat in a roundabout sort of way. I was willing to spend more and in this case, I just couldn’t land on a style I loved that fell within my set budget despite searching brands like Max Mara, Mackage, and Cinzia Rocca. I just wanted a simple, lightweight, camel coat for early fall. As it kept getting colder, time felt like it was running out, and when I saw this style that was new with tags at a really good price, I decided to pick it up. I had no idea I’d really enjoy the coat as much as I did. The quality is quite impressive and while I do plan on upgrading at some point, I don’t have one complaint about how good this coat was to me. Even when I upgrade to a more luxurious camel coat, I will definitely continue to use and wear this style.
I didn’t spend much less than the coat retails for at $99, but for $75, I still managed to get a coat new with tags for more than $20 cheaper than if I bought it off the rack.
When Clients ‘Shop’ for me
One of the reasons I can shop so quickly for myself is because my clients often take the guesswork out of it for me. It’s like a preview. If something works for them, and I have similar physical characteristics, I know it will probably work when I can finally get around to shopping for myself. Both these pieces have amusing backstories like this.
The Eileen Fisher sandals, which I got on Poshmark and not at Eileen Fisher Renew, my client, Mrs. Wonderful, has been wearing for years. Every time she visits New York City in the summer she wears them because she can walk in them all day long. When I saw them on Poshmark for a whopping $15 vs. the $195 they normally retail for, I couldn’t pass them up.
The sweater dress from Rails called the Margot Dress was a style I chose for Mrs. Sublime a few months ago. She fell in love with the style, her size was sold out, we searched and I found it for her on sale in this latté shade on Nordstrom Rack. With Christmas rolling around, I envisioned wearing a sweater dress, searched Poshmark, and stumbled on Mrs. Sublime’s dress in my size. Having a somewhat similar body shape and coloring, I bought, new with tags, for $80 and saved $209.
Here I am wearing the dress Christmas Eve, styled with my heeled Aquatalia booties.
Straying Beyond Aquatalia
It’s not all Aquatalia all the time. First, my obsession with Frye’s Melanie slip-on sneakers which are like my Birkenstock Gizehs, a style I will never not have in my closet. My last pair got so old and worn out I needed another pair. Certainly, cost-per-wear indicates that even if I paid full price for my Melanie slip-ons at $158 it would still be a smart value for me, but instead of just buying them at retail, I picked up a never-worn pair on Poshmark for $53. For the record, I would never buy a pair of Birkenstocks resale because Birkenstock footbeds are designed to take and hold to the mold of the wearer’s foot.
The J.Crew loafers just appealed to me and like so many other women, I went on a loafer kick in 2021. The loafers had me at the bright coral-y orange shade and for just $17, I knew they would add a bright punch to my very neutral wardrobe. In the spring and summer, it’s shoes where I add the most color. I didn’t get a huge opportunity to wear them before the weather got cold, but I look forward to breaking them out more in the spring.
Eileen Fisher Renew Pieces
I dipped my toe in the water shopping at Eileen Fisher’s Renew site. I picked up a pair of olive twill joggers that I lived in all spring and summer and this cute jumpsuit felt like I was wearing a really comfortable and stylish adult onesie. I can’t remember how much I paid for either piece but I know both pairs were well under $100. Unfortunately, Eileen Fisher’s Renew site doesn’t make it super easy to look up past purchases. I will definitely be shopping the site more in the future and when I am ready to be done with these pieces, I will just bring them back to Eileen Fisher.
This is one of the two dresses I rented in 2021; the Explanatory Dress from C/MEO Collective. The dress retails for $190 and I rented it for $30. The dress was so flattering and surprisingly comfortable that I almost considered buying it. But then I realized I didn’t have to buy it, I could just rent it whenever I needed it again. Why clutter up my closet?
I got so many compliments on this Donna Morgan batwing dress when I rented it for a wedding I attended last July. What I love about renting dresses is that I can take bold risks with color without worrying about whether I will wear it again or if the dress will be too identifiable if I wear it too often. And, as I said earlier, I was not happy with my COVID weight gain and went on and lost 20lbs. with the help of my endocrinologist after this photo was taken. I am still on my weight loss journey and renting is perfect if you are too. The original retail price of this dress is $113 and I rented it for $30. And speaking of the benefit of renting a second dress if you can. This wasn’t my first choice of dress originally. I had rented a Shoshanna dress I thought I would like but when I tried it on, I was reminded why I don’t wear overly lacy things. Having a backup served me well and it’s a great option Rent the Runway offers.
Do Good and Spend Less
There is so much good that comes from buying resale clothing. Even if it isn’t a driving factor for me, knowing that I am doing my part to continue the lifecycle of clothing. I feel like I am doing my part and it helps me be mindful to not view fashion as a disposable commodity. I tend to shop with a different type of care and consideration when I shop this way vs. shopping retail sites that are designed to make people just want to buy more. I also get really excited about how much money I save while being able to wear really high-quality clothing. Yet, despite spending much less than the original retail cost for these better items, I am still much more mindful of being careful with my clothing as a result. Lastly, being an HSP who tends to freeze up when presented with more shopping destinations to consider than less, I have an easier time when I have less to pick from. Overall, shopping resale fashion has been a total win for me and I look forward to the finds I will score in 2022!