My blue suede boots are haunting me.
Worn once, they've been sitting neglected in a corner of my closet, gathering dust and awaiting the day I find the courage to throw them in a brown paper bag and haul them down to the neighborhood thrift shop, where a 19-year-old art student with creatively dyed bangs will look at them, give me a fake smile, and say, "No thanks, honey." Selling clothes to thrift and consignment stores can be an awkward experience--scratch that, it *is* an awkward experience, every time. Nothing erodes self-esteem quite like inviting an uber-hip thrift store employee to judge the worthiness of your wardrobe and then insult you with a $3 credit for your Outside Lands 2010 T-shirt.
And that's a shame, because second-hand shopping offers the best of both worlds: You get new threads, your wallet stays happily stuffed with bills, and those blue suede boots find a better home. Whether you're looking to buy or sell, several apps and services are happy to assist your foray into the sustainable fashion movement--and they can help you avoid waiting in a glacial sellers' line at a thrift store with a garbage bag of cast-offs in your hand and a hopeful look on your face. Here are six sartorial standouts.
Pros: Nicely designed, well-organized storefront with huge variety across all categories. Good browsing experience. Buyers can follow favorite sellers.
Cons: Shipping times are inconsistent, as sellers ship from different locations and with varied commitments to promptness. Returns are rarely accepted. Selling entails opening a shop.
Features: Etsy (Web, Android, iOS) may be the best-known service on our list for buying and selling vintage clothing. The selection is generally very good, especially for women's clothing and accessories. In particular, you'll find a ton of fantastic jewelry. Etsy features handmade goods too, perfect for gift-giving (or keeping for yourself). But Etsy probably isn't the best choice for selling one-off items from your closets--it's more of a marketplace, where each seller establishes a long-running shop.
Pros: Easy selling process. Wide selection of discounted and top-brand children's clothing. Offers donation and fundraising options.
Cons: No men's clothing. Accepts only top brands. No infants' clothing under size 12 months.
Features: ThredUp (Web, Android, iOS) is most notable for dealing in high-end children's clothes, though it also carries a fair selection of women's and juniors' clothing from brands such as Theory, J. Crew, and even Target Designers. The service makes selling easy: simply order a bag (provided free by ThredUp) via the app or Web; fill it with clean, lightly used clothing; and sit back and collect up to 40 percent of the resale value. This service generally doesn't accept items that were originally priced at under $20.
Pros: Lots of designer brands at deeply discounted prices. Good drill-down options on categories. Selling is simple.
Cons: No Android app. No men's, juniors', or children's clothing.
Features: If you have champagne tastes but a beer pocketbook, Threadflip (Web, iOS) could be your ticket out of the Goodwill lottery. The service focuses heavily on top brands such as Frye, Alice + Olivia, and Betsey Johnson--and many items are discounted as deeply as 50 to 70 percent off. There's even a sale section for hardcore bargain-hunters, and an Editor's Picks section for customers with less patience for digging. Threadflip's White Glove Service is great if you have a lot of top-quality goods to sell and not a lot of time: The service will send you a prepaid package, sort and photograph your clothing, list items in the Editor's Picks, and handle all customer service for a 40 percent cut.
Pros: Site is nicely designed with good photography. Selling stuff is extremely easy. Buyers love the great return policy.
Cons: No mobile apps. No men's or kid's clothing.
Features: Twice doesn't offer any mobile apps, but it's wonderfully simple and stress-free. If you're selling, Twice does all the work for you. You can order a prepaid shipping pack or print a prepaid label, and the service will make you an offer, just as a thrift store would. If you accept, Twice pays you up front, and then photographs, lists, and sells your items. (If you don't like its offer, or it doesn't like your clothes, you can pay $5 to have them sent back to you--or Twice will donate them to charity on your behalf.) On the buying side, the site does a nice job of presenting clothing and accessories, filters make it easy to finding the items you want (and can afford), and Twice offers a Zappos-like return policy--highly unusual for a used-clothing emporium. You can return any item for a full refund within 30 days and Twice will send you a prepaid return label.
Pros: Well-designed site with a great selection of men's clothing, along with women's and youth garb.
Cons: Finding high-quality items requires digging. You can't filter by price. No mobile apps.
Features: Dresm resembles a better-designed eBay. Like the auction site, you have to dig to find the items you want among the many random pieces for sale, and the items aren't always presented professionally. However, Dresm's site has a clean design, and you can hover over an image to view the price or quickly add it to your cart. Unlike most of the other options on this list, Dresm has a decent selection of menswear, featuring everything from snowboarding boots to flannels.
Pros: Site offers a unique way to browse items. Comment field lets you ask sellers questions. Selection is generally in style.
Cons: Selling requires establishing a storefront (of sorts). No Android app.
Features: Poshmark (Web, iOS) differentiates itself from the herd with a browsing experience based on sellers' "closets"--essentially, their storefronts. Buyers can choose favorite closets based on style and follow those sellers. The service also hosts online parties, which take place at a given date and time, and feature a particular style or type of clothing. At this writing, a "Bold & Beautiful Party" for buying and selling clothing in graphic prints or bright colors was in the offing. This service isn't the best option for once-only selling, and it offers very little clothing for men and children, but plenty of specialty items-- such as wedding, bridesmaid, and prom dresses--are listed.