9 Tips For A Designer Wardrobe At Secondhand Prices

ShopSmart, a shopping magazine published by the same folks who publish Consumer Reports, and now, of course, Consumerist, have collected a bunch of tips for outfitting yourself in fabulous designer clothes — from secondhand stores. Don’t scoff, it’s possible. ShopSmart says they found a trendy Prada skirt and a classic Ralph Lauren jacket and pants at Immortal Uncommon Resale in Philly, and a cute necklace at Beacon’s Closet in Brooklyn.

ShopSmart’s Smart Secondhand Shopping Tips

1. Look up shops in fancy ZIP codes. The tonier the neighborhood, the better the booty. Also go to http://www.narts.org, the site of the National Association of Resale and Thrift Shops, to find stores in a particular area.

2. Surf the Web. Scan eBay and visit great online shops like ShopGoodwill.com, ShopHousingWorks.com and SomeLikeItVintage.com, which all benefit charities and carry fabulous clothing and accessories. DesignerApparel.com is another great find.

3. Support a cause. Select the cause nearest and dearest to your heart, then support it by shopping at its thrift store. Also call local hospitals to ask about their thrift stores.

4. Check by phone. Call periodically to find out when new goods arrive. If you make friends with the owners, you can get them to call you when preferred styles and sizes come in.

5. Shop for evening gowns and cashmere. Wear-once-and-never-be-seen-in-again items like gowns are likely to be fantastic deals. Older cashmere sweaters tend to be thicker and better quality than new ones.

6. Know what to fix and what to forget. Items that are too big, long or long-waisted can be easily tailored so grab them, but skip those that are too small, short or short-waisted. Even if there’s enough fabric to lengthen a hem, there will be a telltale line if the fabric is worn at the hemline.

7. Ask when new shipments are available. New shipments tend to be put out on Saturday mornings to lure weekend shoppers. The end of the year is also a good time, when people clean out closets and donate clothes to get a tax break. Designers and manufacturers with showrooms often donate unsold items and samples from spring lines in March and April, and from fall lines in October and November.

8. If you’re in Florida, shop for winter clothes. People move to warmer locations and discover they do not need overcoats.

9. Bargain, bargain, bargain (but not at charity shops). Prices are often negotiable.

For more tips, check out ShopSmart’s website.

Recessionista Shopping (PDF) [ShopSmart]

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