Photography by Meg Niemann | @MSNPhotography
Hands down, the question I get asked most as a fashion blogger is this: how in the world do I afford designer items? Bloggers don’t exactly rake in cash (not right away, anyway). And New York City definitely isn’t known for its low cost of living. By most realms of logic, I’d be living in an off-Broadway dumpster by now, but at least I’d have my beloved Ramy Brook frocks to keep me warm at night.
Obviously I have a secret, and it’s one I’m glad to share., though it’s really more of a philosophy than a mystery. As I touched on in my advice column and article about spring cleaning, A) I never buy designer for full price and B) I’m constantly buying and reselling clothes to keep my wardrobe fresh and organized.
It all started when I moved to New York City and started my blog, Honestly Kate. I’ve always been a little bit OCD, but I realized quickly that given spatial and financial constraints, my fashion goals (New outfits! Designer shoes!) would be unsustainable without some sort of plan to buy and sell my wardrobe efficiently.
My friends sometimes laugh at me because I need to be able to see everything in my closet at once, or something has to go. But hey, I’m the one laughing when I’ve got new swag to show off and lots of floor space to dance around on!
My habits won’t come easily to everyone, but the benefits are amazing, so I recommend at least giving them a try. Here’s a quick guide to buying and selling your wardrobe for a fresh, rotating cycle of fashionable apparel.
Buying Designer: Tradesy
Let’s start with buying. There are tons of sites online where you can buy clothes, designer or not, at highly discounted prices, but the one I use all the time is Tradesy. This site is fabulous — everything is guaranteed to be authentic, so you know you won’t get knock-offs or damaged goods. You can get luxury goods for as much as 90% off! Awesome, right?
Best of all, you can go on a payment plan for your purchases instead of forking up the money up front, making buying nice things much more manageable. All payments are made through Tradesy rather than a shady third party, so I always feel secure with my purchases. And my experience with Tradesy has always been phenomenal.
Selling Designer: Ebay & The Real Real
You might think Ebay is a relic of the 90s at this point, but there’s a reason the auction website has staying power. I use it to sell designer items, usually bags and shoes. The trick to Ebay is being honest (my tagline!) — take high-quality photos of whatever you are selling. The more honest you are, the more you will sell. It’s really as simple as following the community guidelines (and don’t get yourself suspended like #GIRLBOSS Sophia Amoruso).
When I’m selling my clothes, I turn to The Real Real. Not good at taking photos? The Real Real puts it all on mannequins and makes it look really good! The Real Real takes all contemporary and high-end designers. Like Tradesy, they pride themselves on weeding out fakes and making sure luxury goods are up to their standards. Everything is inspected by the Real Real and put to market quickly.
Even better, make a habit out of selling at this online consignment store you can increase your profit: the more you sell, the larger your cut!
If you know me, you know I don’t wear all designer clothes — I’m a big fan of the high-low aesthetic, so I often mix designer with non-designer clothes to create my looks. Some of my favorite stores are Forever 21, Zara, and H&M.
ThredUp is my go-to store for reselling non-designer clothes. They make is so easy to do by sending you a prepaid bag to fill up with all the goodies — all you need to do is fill it up, send it in, and ThredUp handles the rest. I also love that you have the option to let them donate anything they don’t sell to charity, which I almost always select.
If you noticed a trend so far, it’s that I love to use the Internet to buy and sell things! I find a lot of the time, it really is more convenient, and the business models of these businesses works so well for buyers and sellers alike.
That said, I do bring in clothes to 2nd Time Around every few months (it’s the only store I sell things at, but you can find similar consignment stores like Plato’s Closet, Beacon’s Closet, and Buffalo Exchange.) They decide what they want and what they don’t want, and the staff is extremely well educated on brands and trends, which is great for shoppers and sellers.
Become a Resale Master
It’s easy to give any one of these a shot, but the real key is mastering a lifestyle of “collaborative consumption” instead of holding onto things you no longer use. It’s such a release once you realize that just because you love something doesn’t mean you have to keep it. And if you’re not wearing it, you definitely shouldn’t! By contributing to the “sharing economy” of smart consignment, you will see a marked increase in quality and distinction in your wardrobe.
Best of all it’s great for the environment, your wallet, and your studio apartment. The only real roadblock is the emotional attachment you may have to your belongings. If you can get past your nostalgia, I promise, the sky’s the limit!