There is little more unnerving than cleaning out your closet and taking your clothes to a consignment store. Let me explain.
I have a clothing addiction. It's been a problem since I first started my career as a mallrat in the 7th grade. I bought things that I thought were hip, but not suited to my body type, just because they were on sale at Contempo for $4. As I got into high school I would buy things that I would have to take in or fix because, well, this is a deal and just because the zipper is busted, well, $12 for this twill tube dress is just awesome! By college I had discovered the glory of eBay and the array of DIYers and thrift-store junkies that sold their goods therein. I wound up with clothes that didn't quite fit or that weren't quite like what they appeared as in the listing or that were so outrageous that I wore them to one party or on one day at class and then stuffed back into my teeny tiny exploding college dorm closet.
You can imagine how much my wardrobe expanded when I lived in Brooklyn for two years, with a professional salary to boot. I went to actual (not virtual) thrift stores, bargain stores like Daffy's, and neat local shops. There was an H&M on almost any corner and I knew where to find the best sales at the cool boutiques. When I started packing to move to Austin, I found tons of clothes that still had the sales tags in my closet. In addition, you can imagine, I pulled out many skirts, jackets, shoes and t-shirts that were never going to see the light of day again. And, so, I took them to Beacon's Closet, the hippest thrift store I'd ever been to, and dumped my items on their counter.
My boyfriend, Mark, came with me that day for emotional support. We went to lunch while they evaluated my goods, and I dreamed of the pile of money I was going to rake in. Much to my chagrin, I became only $11 richer that day, despite the designer jeans (still with tags!), funky vintage waitress dresses, trendy shoes and cashmere sweaters I had in the huge bag. They told me "we bought these two pair of shoes which will retail for $35," and gave me a voucher to cash at the front of the store. My heart pretty much dunked itself in sadsauce, but I had already resolved to, for the sake of the move, give whatever the didn't take to charity. I took my $11 and swallowed my pride.
Pride, because, what feels worse than a bunch of hipsters telling you "only two pairs of shoes in this whole bag of swag are cool enough for our store"? My answer is this: hipsters going through even MORE of your clothes in an even HIPPER town while you watch them reject pieces one by one.
Today my dear friend Katy gave up some of her time to take me and four big shopping bags' worth of clothes and shoes to a really cool shop called the Buffalo Exchange. Apparently this is a national chain, so you might have one near you. Reader, I must tell you, get thee to one of their locations should you find one in your area. What variety! What style! What a disaster for a girl on a mission to save more money this year! Katy and I browsed the aisles briefly while one of the super-hip store managers began to evaluate my clothes. Quickly we decided to go back to the counter before either of us were tempted to part with some sweet, sweet green. I found myself eying her, praying in my head each time she grabbed an item out of the bag: Please take this one, please take this one, this one is sooooo awesome!
Damn. It's like being personally evaluated on a cool-o-meter over and over. In my head I imagined her saying "Wow, this girl is so lame — she bought this hideous sweater!" and "Jesus, why would she think this is hip? This isn't vintage, this is dated!" and "There's 'so ugly it's cute,' and 'so ugly it should be burned!'" I supposed I live more in fear of judgment than the average gal, but I'm willing to bet I'm not the only person who feels this way at the counter of a consignment store. At least I made more than $11 today. I walked out with a clean $53.20. And promptly took Katy on a very romantic date at Sonic. We even shared dessert.