This is, needless to say, an incredible resource for bargainistas. I’ve gotten everything from Arche sandals to Chantelle bras at lower-than-low prices. It does take a little effort. You have to study the measurements carefully, or better yet, know your size in each label because all brands vary. High-end European labels tend to run small: yet another reason to hate the French.
One neat little trick is to deliberately misspell the item you’re looking for. You’d be surprised at how many sellers list Chanel as Channel, so you can bid on that bag without much competition. I personally wouldn’t wear Chanel since she was a Nazi collaborator, but not everyone is as politically correct as I (sometimes) am.
You can find anything on this site, from a one-month sublet to a gently-used coffin. Some of the listings, though, are quite poignant, and I often wonder about the back story.
• “WEDDING GOWN, Cost over $5,000.00. Asking $750. NEVER WORN.”
• “HUGE DIVORCE SALE – FORTY YEAR COLLECTION – EVERYTHING MUST GO”
There’s a lot of human drama going on here.
On Craig’s List, I’ve made contact with some trendy new L. A. Designers who hold private sales of old samples. Linda Loudermilk had one of her artful organic skirts featured in The Devil Wears Prada. I bought a large quantity of clothing (mostly for gifts or resale) so she gave me good prices.
One item I kept for myself was a four-hundred-dollar skirt for which I paid ten bucks. Linda sells to a lot of celebs, so when I wear the skirt, it’s the only time I actually have something in common with Paris Hilton.
CONSIGNMENT SHOPS – SECOND-HAND WITH A FANCY NAME
These profit-making stores sell high-end items in good condition. They don’t want to be confused with lower-end thrift stores, and I get a kick out of the various euphemisms: “designer resale,” “pre-worn,” “gently-used,” etc. My favorite is the Australian “pre-loved.”
Some of these pre-loved boutiques can be pricey, but you’re still saving a bundle. Catwalk, in Los Angeles, specializes in fine designer fashion – like a Chistian Dior floral silk brocade jacket which, two years ago, retailed for $3,500. You can buy it at Catwalk for nine-hundred bucks. A little out of my league, but then again I live in sweatpants.
A resale shop can be a lifesaver in an emergency. Benni is a friend of the great Swedish actor Max Von Sydow. One day Max breezed into town and called to invite us to a formal reception to meet his new French wife. I had three days notice, nothing to wear and the very limited budget of an unemployed free-lance actress/writer.
So I hit Ravishing Resale, my local consignment shop. The glamorous owner, Maruschka, is a friend of mine. (I often consign my yard sale treasures to her.) She had the perfect dress for me: a sexy black beaded cocktail number from Fred Hayman Beverly Hills. I paid $100, which is a lot for a dedicated frugalista like me, but the dress retailed for over $800 and I didn’t have time to shop around.
At the reception, I got to sit with the wonderful old Hollywood star, Roddy McDowell, who complimented me on my outfit. Max’s French bride outdid everyone though, in a fabulous gown by Moschino. I doubt it was “pre-loved.”
You can find these wherever there is any fashion industry. I search for them on Google, or on Craig’s List. These sales are great if you want brand-new stuff as opposed to pre-worn. I went to one recently and got a $300 Karen Zambos Vintage Couture dress for ten bucks.
These are warehouses for vintage clothing where they sell stuff by the weight. A lot of vintage stores and professional eBayers get their inventory here. I go to one – A & D Wholesale Vintage Clothing – where the price is four bucks a pound. Clearly, this is not the place to buy heavy wool coats, but I picked up a dozen vintage silk Hawaiian shirts for almost nada. Then I brought them on a visit to Denmark and we took a family photo in cold, grey Copenhagen with everyone in these colorful, tropical shirts. It sure as hell brightened up the gloomy day!
There are lots of websites for discount fashion shopping. One is Gilt.com, where they sell high-end designer goodies at huge discounts – more than half off. They’re still not what I would call cheap, but a lot cheaper than full price.