• Swap Online
Swapping Web sites have popped up, as well. SnobSwap.com, a high-end consignment and swapping site, allows members to trade or sell designer goods with other members by listing products online. The best products to list are trendy designer pieces.
Much of what you see hanging in the consignment store was once in a thrift store. That vintage Chanel bag, the size 10 Italian shoes — professional thrifters routinely resell their bargains at consignment stores for marked-up prices. Which is why it pays to pick up great deals at one shop, wear once, (dry clean, please!) and resell at another. For many, the consignment shop is the next stage in the cycle, and it goes a long way to saving money when you're shopping them. "When you're consigning, there's a sweet spot for what will sell and what will provide the value you're looking for," Massello said. "When you put something on consignment, you normally receive anywhere from 40 and 65 percent on whatever the store sells." Since many consignment stores price a third of retail, you're not going to make much money on your item if you paid full price.
• Choosing a consignment store
If you're choosing to consign clothes for the first time, know that consignment stores are like spas or salons: Many offer the same services, but all are different. "First, identify what your loot is and choose a consignment store by the stuff you're consigning," Rothman said. "There are certain ones that specialize. There are kids consignment stores, maternity or high-end ones," so look for the right fit. Some also offer cash on demand, while others will pay by check every three months.
• For newcomers: Children's consignment
Not sure what to consign? Start with your kids clothes. "Kids consignment is growing by leaps and bounds. They sell the same things they have in Neiman Marcus and Saks," Rothman said. And, of course, because kids grow fast, this designer kids wear is barely worn.