Fashion & Beauty

Consignment and Resale: A Manifesto

It’s been forever, I know. I’m sorry. Things have been really busy around here. What with the holidays and work and a weird compulsion I suddenly developed to slog through all six seasons of Gossip Girl in five weeks, I could hardly find the time to do anything productive. You know you love me, xoxo.

To be honest, I’ve had a bit of writer’s block lately. I’ve been racking my brain to come up with a topic with which to christen the blog this Year of Our Lord 2015. (I wanted it to be both interesting and useful, so you can understand why it’s taken me two months.) The topic I kept coming back to was one that I’ve had multiple friends ask me about: the world of shopping and selling second-hand. I’ve come to understand that this is something people may find intimidating and confusing. But fear not, I’m gonna tell you what I know.

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I would say somewhere between 50-60% of my clothing was originally owned by someone else (like a Saudi Arabian princess) (true story). Certainly the most valuable and unique pieces that I own are ones I’ve bought second-hand. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Why spend your hard-earned dollars on mass-produced, mediocre mall wares when you could score something way more awesome?

Well, turns out there are a few reasons, and they’re all psychological. That’s right, you’re crazy. Here are the concerns I hear most often:

1. I’m overwhelmed and I don’t know where to start.
I hear you. Walking into a consignment or resale store can be intimidating, as they’re often organized differently than mainstream retail stores. Since the merchandise is all unique, racks are usually organized by item type and then subdivided by size. The good news is that you can look through all the size small sweaters at once, for example.

2. I can’t find what I’m looking for.
Here’s where you’ve got to redefine your expectations. If you’ve developed tunnel vision looking for the perfect LBD or a pair of great fitting jeans, you may miss out on the best of what’s actually there. These stores don’t often deal in basics, so if you’re looking for classic wardrobe staples it’s probably best to buy new. Instead, keep your mind open to the novelties.

3. I don’t know if I’m getting a good deal. 
The short answer here is yes, you probably are. Resale shops price clothing well below retail price– as they should, because it’s often (though not always) used. I would advise against buying brands like H&M, Gap, Banana Republic et al. secondhand– in fact, many stores won’t take them because they simply don’t retain their value after they’ve been worn. (Why buy these brands used when they go on sale frequently enough as it is?) Instead look for higher quality/designer items. This is your chance to score something you might not normally be able to afford. Most stores sell their merchandise at less than a third of retail price, and the luxury items are often priced to sell at even less.

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A recent (lucky) find.

Now that you’ve got your neuroses in check, let’s move on to the process of selling your clothes. I’ll first point out the distinction between consignment and resale. Consignment stores will pay you for your clothing if/when it sells, while resale shops will offer you cash or check immediately. While resale is obviously the route to instant gratification, I have found that these stores tend to offer a bit less because they’re assuming a risk if your pieces don’t sell.

In the spirit of actual research I checked in with an employee at one of my favorite SF resale stores: Wasteland, in the Haight.

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Erica gave me the following tips on selling your unwanted clothing:

  • Shops are looking for modern, on-trend pieces from luxury brands or designer vintage. They tend to eschew major brands.
  • Leather is always in style. Certain pieces like moto jackets do well, often regardless of season.
  • No low-waisted jeans. High-waisted pants and skirts are on-trend.
  • No basics, betches. Basic items simply don’t sell as well, unless they’re designer or super high quality.
  • Stores do their shopping ahead of season. Start spring cleaning now!

Another thing to remember is that while shops can appear fickle about the items they accept, they keep track of the items that do and don’t sell and often base their buying decisions off of these trends. You may find that working with multiple shops is the best way to sell more of your unwanted goods.

Happy shopping, and selling!

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Fashion & Beauty

Malibu

Anyone notice my new header photo? Apparently I’m the last person in the free world to figure out how to take a panorama photo on an iPhone! How cute and endearing!

You can stop guessing about the location; I spent a lovely 4th of July weekend with my family in Malibu. It was perfect because I’m one of those incredibly lucky people that has family members who would be cool enough to hang out with even if we weren’t related. I’m pretty sure this is a rarity.

In all seriousness, the women in my extended family– on both sides– are really cool, and have fantastic style. Each of them has such a unique and inimitable aesthetic that when I’m around them, I find myself feeling a lot like I did when I was young and clueless and still wearing Talbots. My outfits are like stirrup leggings and Keds compared to their effortless, eclectic chic.

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On Dana: J Brand tee, BB Dakota overalls, Converse shoes, vintage Coach bucket bag and bracelet, Madewell bracelet.

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On Megan: Le Specs sunglasses, “cheap Asian store” Marilyn Monroe crop top and maxi skirt, BC shoes.

We spent a gluttonous weekend lounging on the beach and hunting for celebrities (well, I did, because I’m declasse and also not accustomed to being around people who are on TV). Ladies, Brody Jenner ain’t all that. His bro, though.

And of course, there was a little bit of shopping. I got a couple of new cosmetics that I’m really excited about: Santigold for Smashbox’s Limitless Double-ended Liner in Azurite/El Dorado, and Benefit’s Cha Cha Tint and Sun Beam Highlighter. How beachy is this look?! (Ignore my unkempt eyebrows, please. Or don’t, ’cause summer is for letting loose, and I just can’t be tamed.)

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Benefit’s stains can double as lip & cheek color.

But anyway, here are some pics of my gorgeous fam.

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On Megan: Daughters of the Revolution caftan. On me: Tom Ford sunglasses, Rachel Roy caftan, stolen hat from my aunt and uncle’s beach house.

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On Dana: Prada sunglasses, Planet Blue bikini top, Zara shorts.

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On Tina: Old Navy Dress, Vix swimsuit, Tom Ford sunglasses, Wanawake hat, Stella and Dot tote.

And of course, Snackers, the unrequited love of my life.

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Hates me.

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Lately

A picture is worth a thousand words.

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Ocean Beach, SF at sunset.

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Ran from my apartment to the coast after work. Still kind of in awe that this is a real thing that I can do now. Unbelievable.

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ROGA (running+yoga) event on the Santa Monica Pier with celebrity trainer Juliet Kaska. Sponsored by Vionic. Working on a Saturday has never been so painless.

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ROGA is over for the summer, but picks up again in the fall. Check out http://santamonicapier.org/roga/ for more information.

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My neighborhood. The Richmond, SF.

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This weekend’s hike. Sea Cliff, SF.

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Rad Theory sweater that I scored for $20 at Wasteland (more on that obsession later). H&M necklace, Tahari pants, Vionic sandals (on sale now!).

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New nose stud and ragged hair. Passed the two month mark without a cut before conceding that something had to be done. Miss you, Lauren!

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Awkward face, double chin, fresh layers via The Cutlery SF. Highly recommended!

That’s all I got for now.

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Fashion & Beauty

Men’s Office Style: Volume Three

Today I thought it might be fun to feature a look on the more conservative end of the spectrum. Tyler’s style is pretty classic and well-tailored. Fit and quality are two of the few variables men have to play with when it comes to fashion. Like, they can literally only wear shirts, pants, jackets, shorts and blazers, so they should probably make sure they’re flattering. Women’s trends are more fluid and diverse, and it’s easier to supplement a wardrobe with statement pieces. But I digress; we all know girls get more cool stuff. Anyway, here are some style tips from Tyler.

Tyler

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Loafers: Ferragamo, Slacks: Ralph Lauren, Sweater: Ralph Lauren, Shirt: Ledbury, Belt: Trafalgar.


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How would you characterize your style?
I’d say somewhere between Atlantic Coast Southern Preppy and London/New York traditional–both heavily influenced by growing up in the South and living in NYC and working in London. That generally means I prefer a more tailored look for sure, from suits to jeans.

What are you influenced by when choosing clothes? Is there anyone whose style you admire and try to replicate?
Certainly by travel and life situations. I moved to New York at 18 for college and worked there afterwards for nearly half a decade before moving back to Virginia. I worked for a London-based firm as well, so their more tailored style certainly impacted my personal style.

What’s your fashion philosophy? Do you prefer classic or trendy pieces, or a mixture of both?
I believe in a mix– a growth over time, if you will. I’d never wear a tailored suit at age 18, but I would in my late 20s for example. There is a time and place for a lot of different styles. There are some trends that will stay around and become iconic, others that won’t. Its deciding which of those new styles fits your mood/personality and have staying power.

Do you have any hard-and-fast rules when it comes to fashion? 
Never wear a black suit. I don’t own one– even my tux is midnight blue with black lapels. That is certainly the preppy/classic style preference acting up, but its one I’ve always lived by. Dark navy can do anything black can on a guy. I also don’t do shiny shoes (a little too intense for me). I also prefer loafers to lace-up shoes for day-to-day work.

What are the rules that you follow to make sure that what you’re wearing is office appropriate, yet not stuffy or super corporate?
Honestly, I don’t follow many rules.  I have worn flip-flops one day with jeans and a British tailored suit the next day, its one of the many beauties of our office. That being said, never a pair of shorts unless the AC is broken in the middle of August or you’re in on the weekend. Have to draw a line somewhere.

Name a fashion trend that you hate.
Really skinny jeans on guys that are out of shape. I don’t need to see all of that.

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Fashion & Beauty

Men’s Office Style: Volume Two

Finding styles that flatter your body-type is a tough but necessary task. It’s taken me years to understand that as much as I like certain things, like high-waisted pants, they’ll never look right on someone of my height and build. On the other hand, there are many looks that I can pull off because of my size. It’s taken me years to build up a repertoire of cuts and styles that I know work for me, and I admire Pupon for the fact that he’s done that so well for himself. Here’s another look that I loved this week.

Pupon

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Jacket: H&M, Shirt and Pants: Express, Shoes: Cole Haan “Lunargrand”

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How would you characterize your style?
Mix and match anything that fits. Being a graphic designer, I usually try to find balance between colors and shapes.

What are you influenced by when choosing clothes? Is there anyone whose style you admire and try to replicate?
I choose clothes mostly from brands that make slim, fitted cuts for a smaller stature.

What’s your fashion philosophy? Do you prefer classic or trendy pieces, or a mixture of both?
I like to mix it up. Fashion is art. Express yourself and rock it like you own it.

Do you have any hard-and-fast rules when it comes to fashion?
No, not really. I think some people can be insecure about what they put together and it shows when they go out. Be secure and set the trend.

What are the rules that you follow to make sure that what you’re wearing is office appropriate, yet not stuffy or super corporate?
Keep it classy, but bend the rules when you feel like it.

Name a fashion trend that you hate.
Jorts. Enough said.

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Fashion & Beauty

Men’s Office Style: Volume One

The guys in my office dress all right. Ok, I’ll be honest, I’m usually kind of impressed by what they’re wearing, given the disdain I usually feel when I see men in DC trying to wear clothes. It’s like Halloween, if Halloween were an occasion for all dudes to dress like somebody’s dad.

I asked some of my friends at work to let me take pictures of their everyday attire, and they were kind enough to answer a few questions about their personal styles. This week, I’ll be posting a few of my favorite looks.

Kyle

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Jacket: Zara, Jeans: Levi’s, Shirt & Shoes: J. Crew, Tie: Dior, Glasses: Warby Parker

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How would you characterize your style?
Going to work, then going to a show.

What are you influenced by when choosing clothes? Is there anyone whose style you admire and try to replicate?
Living in New York, and before that London. You assimilate. You go from looking like a tourist to not looking like a tourist. You adopt things into your personal style.

What’s your fashion philosophy? Do you prefer classic or trendy pieces, or a mixture of both?
For work, I buy all newer stuff. I try to maintain a more contemporary wardrobe. I end up pitching things a lot, cycling things in and out of my closet. At work, it’s almost exclusively contemporary. I do buy vintage outerwear and tee shirts, always as accent pieces.

Do you have any hard-and-fast rules when it comes to fashion?
No shorts, except for athletic activity and the beach. I just don’t think people want to see men’s legs. Style over comfort. I’m in the 5% of guys who don’t on some level embrace that they just want to be comfortable. I don’t really consider it a priority.

Our workplace is very business-casual. Most of you don’t wear suits every day, and you have a bit more freedom to wear what you want. What are the rules that you follow to make sure that what you’re wearing is office appropriate, yet not stuffy or super corporate?
Guys have less rules, but they’re stricter. You can’t just wear a single piece on top, for example. If you’re wearing a button down, you should have a sweater, a cardigan, or a jacket. You want to look a tiny bit more fancy without being stuffy. You can find ways to make things look professional just by adding more layers.

Name a fashion trend that you hate.
Man tank tops. Despite the fact that I had a pretty good run in New York, man tank tops were at the precipice of their popularity. As with shorts… no one wants to see that.

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Fashion & Beauty

Place your bids.

In a continuing what’s (hopefully not) becoming a trend, another belated post.

Last weekend, I attended my very first auction, at Sloans & Kenyon Auction House in Chevy Chase, MD. Up for bid were over 600 lots of vintage/couture fashion and jewelry. My mom had already scoped out the pieces earlier in the week, and had a list of items that she wanted to bid on. I dragged myself out of bed and went along for the ride.

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Normally, I’m not a huge fan of buying vintage. I know: sacrilege. It has less to do with the age of the items as it does with the fit and condition. I’ve found that many vintage clothes from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s have silhouettes that don’t work on my short frame and short torso, like high-waisted pants and skirts, swing coats, and shoulder pads. I love how flamboyant and theatrical the older formal wear is, though, like this wool/cashmere coat with fox fur cuffs. I think it was probably from the 1930s, and it sold for only $150. What I would give for an occasion to wear something like this… but unfortunately, my life is not a series of Gatsby parties. It’s Friday night and I’m watching Jersey Shore reruns.

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Accessories, however, are another story. I couldn’t get enough of the vintage scarves, especially (obviously) the ones by Hermes. If I’d been serious about buying that day, I probably could have gotten one for a reasonable price, but no matter what, they’re kind of an investment. Definitely on my fashion bucket list, though.

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Vintage Hermes and Chanel scarves.

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Gucci, Chanel bags.

I ended up bidding on a few items, but chickened out once the prices started climbing too high. I like to ruminate over my potential purchases, so it would have helped if I’d had a strategy coming in, instead of seeing the items for the first time at the auction. It was definitely an experience, though, and it was fun and exciting. My mom and I conjectured about who her competition would be on a vintage Chanel boucle sheath dress, and she was on the edge of her seat for literally hours. She ended up winning, though, and snagging a gorgeous pair of unworn Ferragamo riding boots as well. After a couple of tries, I finally won an item: a huge, brand new Moschino silk and wool blend animal print scarf, for the ridiculously low price of $35.

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Most of the items sold for much, much less than they were valued. Some pieces were older and slightly degraded, but many were in mint condition, like these Nicholas Kirkwood heels, which I lusted over.

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It was a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon. If you keep an eye out for the fashion auctions on Invaluable.com, an auction house database/listing service, you can peruse the items at Sloans & Kenyon and even bid online the day of the auction.

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Scarf: Moschino, Jacket: Kenneth Cole.

Happy bidding… And TGIF.

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