THE BLOG
01/05/2011 05:35 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Do's and Don'ts of Selling Your Clothes for Cash

Ahh, January. The month in which we feel the pain of over-indulgent spending. Is it possible to undo the monetary damage of the holiday season? Not entirely, but selling your unworn clothes, shoes and accessories for cash is bound to alleviate some guilt. Follow this handy list of Do's and Don'ts, and you'll be able to net some much-needed moolah in exchange for your closet castoffs. Here we go.

DO: Clean Your Closet Thoroughly
Take a good hard look at your wardrobe, and be brutally honest with yourself about what you do and don't wear. Items that have gone unworn for six months or more should be removed from your closet immediately. What happens when you hang onto stuff that's too small on the off-chance it'll fit again some day? You try it on periodically, and it makes you feel like crap about yourself. Get it out, and don't look back.

Note: 80% of your outfits come from 20% of your clothes. That means you could get rid of over half your wardrobe, and your style wouldn't change a lick. I'm just saying.

DON'T: Be Delusional
Think someone's going to pay you for dated work apparel or nineties-era Paris Blues? Think again. Retail might be struggling, but resale is recession-proof: Secondhand boutiques are pickier than ever about what they buy. A Buffalo Exchange staffer summed it up best: "If it's not something your best friend or sister would want, chances are a resale shopper won't want it either." If it's seasonally and stylistically relevant, it's a potential seller. If not, into the donation pile it goes.

DO: Divide and Conquer
Split your potential sellers into two piles: resale and consignment. A resale store buys your clothes on the spot in exchange for cash or store credit; a consignment store compensates you as your items sell. What goes in what pile? So glad you asked.

2011-01-05-resalesellingchart.jpg

Imagine the gently worn world as a highbrow department store. The Premium Designer floor is consignment. The Contemporary Women's Apparel floor is resale. Helpful analogy, yes?

DON'T: Skip the Research
For a list of resale and consignment stores near you, Yelp is your best bet. Screen the Used, Vintage and Consignment category and jot down the phone numbers of those that look promising.

DO: Call in Advance
Buying standards vary according to what a given store currently has in stock. Call ahead, ask what they're understocked on, and tailor what you bring in accordingly. Ask if they require appointments, or if you can sell on the spot. For consignment stores, inquire about the payout percentage; your cut should be 50% of the item's store value. Don't settle for less.

DON'T: Take it Personally
I once attempted to sell a $300 Diane von Furstenberg top. When the buyer handed it back to me, I was appalled. It was on-trend, in-season and in mint condition - a big fat YES if ever there was one. Why, WHY was it getting negged?! The buyer then pointed to a barely visible pen mark - something I'd missed upon screening it for damages. Selling your clothes for cash takes a bit of practice, so try not to have a hissy fit over items that fail to sell. Remember: It's business - not a judgment on you or your style.

DO: Consider the Credit
Most resale stores price items on the spot to calculate the collective value of your goods: Your take-home is 30% of the value in cash or 50% in credit. Say you sell $100 worth of stuff. If your financial situation is dire to the point of not being able to feed yourself, take the $30 in cash and buy groceries. If you're selling for spending money, take the $50 store credit. Why?

Because nothing cures post-holiday guilt like shopping for free.

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