To consign or not to consign? A guide to clearing out your closet.

 New Arrivals at The Clothesline Consignment in Anchorage, AK.

New Arrivals at The Clothesline Consignment in Anchorage, AK.

Who out there has completely bypassed spring cleaning? It’s okay, it’s okay.  We all have priorities & Instagram is important!  Plus, hello? It’s already summer & when it’s friggen' gorgeous outside I understand the sun may be calling you by name & cleaning probably doesn't come close to appearing on your fun in the sun list. I also understand it's likely you have a closet full of bulky sweaters, winter jackets, & boots. Or maybe you were feeling enthusiastic & you have pulled out clothes from past summer seasons, but they just aren't what they used to be & the whole situation is adding some daily stress, cutting into your outdoor time.  Because I want everyone to have the most fun & fabulous time in the sun as possible, I invite you to bite the bullet & set aside at least half a day (it can be a cloudy day) of pure closet purging.  I'm going to pave the way for your purge to be a satisfying & perhaps even a bit of a financial success.

First & foremost be prepared by setting the scene for success.  Do you work better alone & trust yourself to make the proper decisions for what stays & what goes away in your closet, or, do you need to call in a trustworthy friend or family member to help with the decision making?  

Supply wise, I suggest a medium-large sized tote or two to store fall/winter items, a large disposable bag for donations, another for possible consignment items, & a final one for those items that just need to be tossed.  I also like the option of an "alterations bag" of items that are in the keep zone but needing a minor alteration such as a new zipper or a hem.  If you have these items make sure you actually follow through by altering them yourself or setting up an alterations appointment in a timely matter. Don't let the bag sit in your closet until the next closet purge!

Depending on your budget & time allowance, this could be the perfect time to make some organizational investments that will make both the getting ready & the putting clothes away process smooth & manageable.  We have many amazing resources at our fingertips for every sized closet thanks to websites like Pinterest & multiple organizational blogs. A simple trip to Target spending $50 on huggable hangers, a shoe organizer, & a jewelry tray could make a world of difference in every closet.

So what do you hold on to, what do you toss, & what do you donate or consign?  A nice rule of thumb is if you didn't wear the clothing item last year, it's not too likely you will wear it this year.  Remove the emotions from the item i.e.: "but my dear friend brought me this t-shirt back from Las Vegas". If the shirt doesn't fit you anymore, your friend will understand why you didn't hang on to it & it’s highly likely they’ve donated gifts you've given them.  After emotions are removed, fully inspect the item for wear and tear & determine if it will be tossed, donated, or consigned.  If the color is faded, it's stained or there's a hole, it should be tossed.  If the color has remained true, is stain & tear free, but it's not in a current trend bracket, donate it.  If it's a known designer t-shirt in tip top shape within a current trend bracket, maybe even with tags still attached, consign it.  Repeat this process for each item, trying on for current fit if necessary. I promise it will get easier & easier, you might even start to show no mercy, the entire purging process can get pretty addicting.  

Regarding where to donate you just have to decide if you want to set up a time for a non-profit to pick up the items (ie: in Anchorage, Alaska the Arc of Anchorage www.thearcofanchorage.org or Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska www.bbbsak.org), if you want to deposit the donations -clothing only- to a non-profit “donation dumpster” (ie: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Alaska "donation dumpsters" are located at most Carrs parking lots) or if you want to drop off to Salvation Army, Value Village or a local church organization collecting donations. 

Regarding which consignment shop to try your luck at selling, the best thing to do is research which shop fits your style profile the best.  In Anchorage, if your closet features brands like J. Brand, Theory, and Vince, head over to Second Run downtown (720 D. St.). Plain Jane Consignment in midtown (113 W Northern Lights Blvd.) looks for names such as Marc Jacobs, Tracy Reese, & Trina Turk.  Located just down the street is The Clothesline Consignment (1441 W. Northern Lights Blvd.) who features a more wide variety with everything from L.A.M.B. handbags to BCBG blouses to Patagona pullovers.  If you were super ambitious & cleaned out both your personal & your child’s closet head over to Once Upon a Child in midtown (1016 W Northern Lights Blvd.) for infant to girls up to size 16 & boys up to size 18-20 consignment opportunities.  For teen & young adult try Plato’s Closet (1201 W Northern Lights Blvd.) or Hut No. 8 (135 W. Dimond Blvd #101).

Consigning shouldn’t be an intimidating experience but it also shouldn’t be taken personally. When I asked one of The Clothesline Consignment gals, Debbie Laflamme, what the biggest mistake people make when consigning she answered, “In my mind, the biggest mistake is taking the whole process too personally. We see hundreds of items every single day & it's our job to select the cream of the crop - what we think our customers are going to buy. In doing that, we have to say "no" to a large amount of clothing.  Unfortunately, many gals take it very personally & it's just not.”  Coming in close second, “Bringing in items for consignment that are not clean. We use a professional steamer & it reveals many ‘dirty’ secrets, indeed. Freshly laundered is a must.”  

You may not have many, if any, of the items you bring in to consign picked, but don’t give up. Like purging, consigning typically gets easier & easier each time with learning the routine & what each shop is looking for (i.e. hold onto your fall sweaters for the fall, don’t bring them in during spring/summer months.)  

 If you are completely new to the consignment scene & never actually popped in to shop for yourself, I believe you will be pleasantly surprised at the selections offered.  Second Run, Plain Jane, and The Clothesline Consignment all have multiple sales throughout the year, where I myself have scored some totally brag-able items (L.A.M.B. bags, Marc Jacobs Collection skirt, Max Azria Collection Runway jacket to name a few.)  Be sure to like each shop’s Facebook or Instagram page so you don’t miss out on any upcoming sales. 

 Swoon worthy bags at The Clothesline Consignment.

Swoon worthy bags at The Clothesline Consignment.

Finally, if you are just not feeling the consignment scene, use your discarded gems as an excuse to have a clothing swap with your crew.  Everyone brings their loot to exchange, a drink or a scrumptious snack, maybe have a fabulous fashion film such as ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ or the life staple, ‘Clueless’ on in the background.  You can help each other style new looks for work & leisure!  The possibilities are endless but they won’t start without a proper closet purge, so get to work!!