That Time I Made $8,000 Cleaning Out My Closet
Keep, consign, toss, make bank. You know the drill.
While it’s hard for even the most obsessive of fashion fanatics to stay organized (multiple fashion weeks, styling kits, a myriad of chargers…), I can honestly say I used to be a through-and-through hot mess—and that’s putting it lightly. It has taken the last few years of running a business and constant traveling to realize just how important it is to be at least semi-organized, even some of the time. As an example? Having a makeup bag filled with chargers that I always keep in my carry-on has alleviated running around airports in a mad dash to find the right charger before my flight takes off. Yeah, I pat myself on the back for that one. Another one: Planning to do those last-minute tasks the morning before a big meeting? You won’t—just get them done before you go to bed. Or else you’ll be the one rolling into said meeting fifteen minutes late, with soaking wet hair and the remnants of your breakfast on your sweater—not a good look (been there!). Once I’d cleared these hurdles, though, my biggest routine-related challenge still remained—organizing my closet.
I used to be a serial shopper (and some may say I still am…), but I definitely wasn’t a smart shopper. You’ve probably heard it before: I had a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear. It was filled with impulse purchases like a bright green croc Proenza Schouler bag, or an Alexander McQueen kilt (!). These items were so specific and trendy, they were even tricky to work into fashion-week outfits—the two times a year we’re encouraged to really bring it.
Then, about a year ago, I had a classic Oprah aha moment. After raiding over 400 closets, it turns out the ones I envied most weren’t the ones filled to the brim; they were the ones with a clear, concise point of view. The woman who knows her style, what works, and, more important, what doesn’t, isn’t overly impulsive and shops accordingly. *That* was the kind of closet I wanted.
Before I was able to go out and shop for the brand-new woman I wanted to become, though, there were two considerable obstacles that stood in my way: space and money. My closet was already crammed with stuff I never wore, and this became more apparent the more I traveled: If I could happily dress for two weeks on the road with only one suitcase, clearly I didn’t need everything that was sitting in my drawers at home. And while building a dream wardrobe sounded lovely, I had no way to actually afford it. Years of reckless shopping had left me financially depleted. It was time to get serious and figure out a way to turn my mountain of clothes into a nice, crisp pile of cash…to buy more clothes.
I had dabbled in consignment in the past and thought it could be the perfect solution to my problem, but I never really realized just how much I would come to love it. Once I started being honest and ruthless with myself about what I wore (thanks, Marie Kondo!), what I wanted to keep, and what was just a straight-up bad purchase, it was almost as if I couldn’t stop. The floor of my bedroom became covered with piles and bags of stuff to either sell or donate. I might be going out on a limb here, but it was as if I was being spiritually cleansed of all my neglectful prior purchases. But it also gave me insight into the things I was spending money on that didn’t make any sense, and the things I should actually be investing in.
I went to drop off all of my stuff at my favorite consignment store in Toronto—VSP, where the owner, Britt, made the entire experience seamless. She went through each piece with me to make sure selling it was the right thing to do. Once my first cheque came in, I was hooked, and it didn’t stop there. Below, some of the lessons I have learned along the way :point_down:.
1. You Can Make Serious BANK
Since I first started selling at VSP, I’ve made over…wait for it…$8,000 (!!). While it’s obviously all the money I have spent over the past few years, it definitely helps take away the sting of buyer’s regret. Plus—now I can invest that $$$ in pieces I know I will actually wear (ed note: and put it towards building a fuck-off fund, too!).
2. It’s Like Shopping for Free (Kind Of?!)
Most consignment stores will allow you to put the money you make towards items in the store (like a store credit). That means I’m now the proud owner of a large white Fendi Peekaboo (it fits my computer = totally necessary for work) and a Céline Edge bag, without ever having to open my wallet. So basically, free.
3. Think About the Resale Value
We don’t think anyone jumped quite as high for joy as some of our past subjects when that headline about Birkins being a sounder investment than stocks made its way around the internet (that’s not to say you shouldn’t diversify, of course...). When shopping, look to see if an item will have resale value. Knowing you will be able to resell the classic or insanely collectible item that you splurged on this season makes the sticker shock a little easier to swallow. These types of items are usually scooped up by other fashion fanatics who missed the boat the first time around (Fanny Moizant’s Vestiaire Collective, for instance, is littered with items like CHANEL gasoline can clutches that start at a modest 10K!).
4. Get the Best Return
It’s helpful to know which items sell better than others. Here’s the breakdown of what has sold from everything I brought to VSP:
5. One In, One Out
Perhaps the most important lesson all this has taught me is the “one in, one out” rule. If there is a piece I’m lusting over, or if I feel the hankering for a new pair of Gianvito Rossi shoes, I find one item to remove from my closet to sell first. This helps make sure your closet doesn’t get overstuffed with items you don’t wear, but it also gives you a bit of money to contribute to your new purchase. It’s hard, and I admit that I personally don’t always do the best job at adhering to this rule...but I try my best.
6. If You Haven’t Worn It...
I also now routinely clean out my closet, and it feels amazing every single time. Kind of like exercising—getting to the gym is the hardest part, but you never feel worse after you work out. The most important thing you can do is to be ruthless and realistic. Let’s be real, that dress you think you might wear this coming summer? If you didn’t wear it last summer, you won’t wear it this one either. Same goes for that sweater you are thinking might look cute in front of a fireplace next holiday season—it won’t. If you didn’t wear it while sipping eggnog this past December, you won’t wear it in the one coming up. Seriously. You won’t.
7. Reap the Benefits
While I used to boast about all the items I had just bought, having a cluttered closet is not something I’m proud of. Being confident with both my personal style and my finances makes me feel so much more :100:. And isn’t that all you can ask for?