As you may have gathered from my absence here, I’ve had a rough couple of weeks. But in times like these, I’ve found that you can choose to wallow, or you can attempt to fill a void with your favorite vices. Mine happen to be food, friends, and obviously, fashion. It’s not exactly a healthy prescription for my bank account, but they don’t call it retail therapy for nothing.
Last weekend, my mom and I visited Inga’s: Once is Not Enough, an upscale consignment boutique on MacArthur Boulevard, in the Palisades neighborhood of DC. We’ve been coming here for years together, both on our own and with anyone we deem worthy of indoctrination into our imaginary club. But this place is certainly no secret– in fact, it’s kind of a DC-fashion institution. Though slightly off the beaten path, both natives and out-of-towners make up the hordes of loyal customers who comb the racks religiously, some on a weekly basis.
The shop’s owner, Dr. Inga Guen, is a super shrewd and savvy businesswoman, as well as a noted doctor of neuropsychology. Yes, really. She’s the force behind the store’s success, accepting only inventory that she believes is “exquisite,” a term that she uses to describe anything from Chanel bags made of buttery leather to mink stoles so soft they feel like cool water flowing through your fingers. This place is no Buffalo Exchange. On the contrary, Inga’s feels more like a museum, housing haute couture pieces that most of us rarely have the occasion or opportunity to see in the flesh. There’s a whole section dedicated to Chanel, and a back room full of handbags that could reduce you to tears. If you’re in a vulnerable state, beware.
The best part about Inga’s, though, is what you’ve probably been wondering about throughout this whole post: the prices are unbelievably reasonable. Items that retail for thousands can sell for a mere fraction of their original price, and there are plenty of beautiful, often immaculate designer pieces to be had for $100 or less. The rarer the item, the more expensive, obviously, but if you’re looking to treat yourself to something truly special, this is the place to splurge. The things I’ve found here are among the most treasured items in my wardrobe, like a vintage suede and leather YSL bag that my mom gave me as a Christmas gift two years ago. The thing with consignment shopping, though, is that you have to approach it with an open mind; you might not be on the market for a faux fur leopard-print coat, but that doesn’t mean you won’t walk out with one.
In fact, that’s exactly what I did.
My other purchase for the day was a pair of black Prada boots, which are absolutely perfect down to every subtle detail. Knee-high, zippers on both the inside and outside of the calf, pebbled leather, and a thick, un-tapered heel. They were worn maybe once, and I scored them for $184. Similar pairs retail for $1,400.
Inga also works extensively with wounded warriors at Walter Reed, donating some of the proceeds from her store to their recovery. Another reason that you’ll walk out feeling better than when you came in.