I’ve written quite a bit about how to pare down an overly large wardrobe (see here and here for some of my best suggestions on this topic), but I don’t think I’ve given too much attention to what to do with our clothing cast-offs. Today’s post outlines some suggestions for how to best move these items on to a new home.
First, an Important Point about Guilt…
Before I cover my specific suggestions, I’d like to cover one important point. A lot of times, our primary reason for holding on to clothing we no longer love is guilt. We feel guilty for having spent money on items that we have rarely or never worn. We may also experience remorse for not having used gifts that were given to us by loved ones. But such feelings cannot bring back lost dollars or push us to love things that we simply do not.
It can be helpful to reframe things a bit and consider that passing on unloved items will enable someone else to love and use them. If you stop to think about the joy that you receive from your most cherished possessions, you’ll realize that others out there might have the same feelings about your cast-offs. Passing those things on can enable others to experience joy and pleasure. In addition, once the items are removed from your home and are out of your sight, your guilty feelings will gradually fade away. It’s really a win, win situation when you think about it, plus you may be able to recoup some of your lost dollars in some circumstances.
Now on to the list… I’m probably not covering all of the available methods for dealing with closet cast-offs, and some of my ideas may already be quite familiar to you. However, I hope at least one of my suggestions will be helpful and that having this list of resources will make it easier to let your unloved garments and accessories go.
Give Them to a Friend or Relative
Often the easiest way to pass on pieces we’re decided we no longer love is to give them to a loved one. It’s wonderful to know that someone we love will be enjoying our cast-offs and that can help ease the blow of letting go of closet items. I have given quite a few of my jewelry items to my mom and it warms my heart to think of her wearing them (since she lives far away, I don’t really get to see her wearing them).
Fellow blogger Mette took this tip one step further by inviting approximately 25 of her friends and family members to her house to go through her purged items (read more about this in the excellent guest post she wrote here back in September). She was very bold with her closet audit and managed to identify over 150 items to pass on. She moved these items down to her basement and hosted a few sessions during which her loved ones could grab anything they desired. The remaining pieces were brought to her office, where her co-workers claimed them. In the ensuing months, she has enjoyed seeing her closet cast-offs all around the small town in which she lives. She was happy to be able to “pay it forward” and took comfort in knowing that her unloved items could be appreciated by others.
Donate To Charity
This is the obvious answer to the “what to do with these items?” question. There are many, many charities that would be more than happy to take on your purged garments, shoes, and accessories. For those who live in large metropolitan areas, you can pick and choose which charities will receive your cast-offs. If there is a particular charity with which you really resonate, check and see if they have a donation facility in your area. You can get a tax write-off and experience the satisfaction of knowing your wardrobe pieces are going toward a good cause.
If you are letting go of business clothing, there are specific charities that are in need of such items. These charities, such as Dress for Success, pass suits and other business-appropriate clothing on to women who are re-entering the work force and need garments for interviewing and new employment.
Sell via Consignment or Online
If your purged items are in good condition and are relatively current, you may be able to recoup some of your investment by selling them on consignment or via the online auction site, eBay. This is particularly true for designer handbags and other items from coveted brands.
Consignment stores tend to work in one of two ways. Some stores will buy your items outright and subsequently sell them, whereas others will only pay you after the items sell. In most cases, they will offer you approximately 50% of what they believe the selling price will be. If you elect to take store credit, the percentage can be higher, but I recommend that you proceed with caution with such an option. After all, you don’t want to introduce more closet chaos into your life by buying low-cost secondhand items simply because you’ve earned credit at a particular store. If you actually need the items in question, the store credit option could be a good way to go, but it can be a slippery slope. In many instances, you’re better off taking the cash, as you’ll be able to use it for anything you need in any location and won’t be limited to the stock on hand in a consignment store.
When most people think about selling things online, eBay is usually what comes to mind. Selling on eBay can be daunting for those who are new to the process, but there are a lot of helpful online tutorials that can assist you, including the comprehensive tutorials available on the site itself. eBay also has a new option through which you can send in the items you wish to sell and a “selling valet” takes care of the photos, listing, pricing, and everything else. With this option, you still receive 70% of the proceeds, so this might be a better alternative for those who are either very busy or overwhelmed by technology. If you choose to list the items on eBay yourself, it’s a good idea to look up how much similar pieces have sold for in the past. Be sure to check out the selling prices, not just the list prices.
Other Online Options
Besides eBay, there are some new online options for selling your clothing and accessory cast-offs. With these services, you generally send in the items you wish to sell (they have posted guidelines for what they will and won’t take) and they pay you a percentage of what they deem to be the resale value. In some cases, you can opt to accept store credit or donate the proceeds if desired.
I haven’t used these services myself and I’ve heard mixed reviews. The payout is sometimes a lot smaller than expected, but if your main objective is to get your cast-offs out of your house and earn a bit of income, it could be a good choice for you. Here are some links to some of the online clothing resell services:
Host or Attend a Swap Party
Another way to deal with your purged clothing and accessory items is to host or attend a swap party. In this instance, instead of looking to earn money from your cast-offs, you’re basically aiming to trade them for items you like better. A swap party can also be a fun occasion to enjoy with family and friends, whether you are the host or just an attendee. If you elect to attend a swap party, why not invite a friend or two to go with you? Most women have some pieces in their closet they’re not wearing and would love to trade them for items they might love and wear a lot more.
Swap parties are usually either free to attend or entail a nominal fee. Attendees are usually required to bring a minimum number of pieces to the party and can pick up the same number of pieces as they contribute. Sometimes these events are held to benefit a designated charity, in which case a small fee is usually charged. In many cases, refreshments are also served. Many swap events are listed via your local chapter of Meetup.com and there are some ongoing swap groups who host regular events. There are also some groups who put on swap events around the United States and in other countries. You should be able to find swap groups and events via a simple Google search.
Conclusion and Your Thoughts
I hope that my suggestions will be helpful to those who are looking to downsize their closets and pass unloved items on to new homes. If you have personal experiences you’d like to share about any of the services or processes I mentioned, please do so in the comments section. I would be especially interested in insights about online reselling services, as I haven’t used any of those myself (outside of some eBay experience).
I’ll be back later this week with some suggestions for where to buy quality clothing, shoes, and accessories based upon my own experiences and those of some readers. I had hoped to publish that post today, but it’s taking me a little longer to put together than I’d anticipated. If you’d like to include your input on that topic in my post, please comment here as soon as possible or contact me directly. My plan is to eventually create a resource page on that topic that will remain easily accessible via this site to help all of us shop smarter.