Wise about quality, style, spending and community, women who shop at consignment boutiques benefit their wardrobes, neighbors and budgets.
That’s how three area store owners feel about what their women’s apparel shops provide both on and off the racks.
Sandy Conrad, co-owner of Double Exposure Elite Resale in Barrington, says consignment shoppers can find styles that parallel the hottest trends in department and specialty stores, but at a much lower cost. The way it works, consigners sell their pristine-condition items to a store that resells the items, and then the consigner receives a portion of the sale.
“Resale typically follows the trends that are selling in the stores,” Conrad says. “So, we are trying to mirror the fine stores, like Nordstrom.”
One of the benefits of shopping consignment or retail is the reduced prices of designer brands. Conrad says popular brands are already marketed in department stores, but with consignment, shoppers aren’t paying for the advertising dollars that promote those brands.
Coach, Chanel, Prada and Dior are among the labels available at Double Exposure, and premium designer denim is a good seller at the shop, so Conrad and her sister-in-law and co-owner Paula Conrad prioritize their selection of it.
“Really, we try and mimic the trends that the higher-end department stores are promoting,” Sandy Conrad says.
Sometimes, it’s the classics that are the most coveted. For example, St. John’s Bay knits are popular with Double Exposure shoppers, Conrad says. Classic pieces that aren’t affected by seasonal trends are just good picks.
“Those items can be worn through many seasons,” she says, adding that animal print patterns are another safe bet.
Fall Fashion Trends
While Conrad reflects on some of the staples in fashion, Potpourri Resale owner Laurie Nelson says she is happy about a recent shift in fashion. Dresses have made a comeback, she says.
“I think the next generation is just becoming more mature. They’re being more feminine, more mature about how they’re dressing,” says Nelson, who has more than two decades of experience owning Potpourri Resale in McHenry. “We don’t have that ‘crud’ look anymore. We don’t have the darkness [in trends].”
From her perspective, weather influences fashion.
“I firmly believe the weather has a lot to do with the way people dress,” Nelson says. “The sunnier it is, the bolder colors people wear.”
This year’s absence of gloomy, rainy weather has perked up the style scene, she says.
“Now we have the cheerier colors,” she says, noting trends for fall are “a little bit of the fluorescent greens, the limes and plums or indigos.”
Good investments for autumn will include a signature coat, Nelson says. Double-breasted, full-length styles have caught her eye for the upcoming season.
And handbags are generally not as oversized as last year’s trends, she says.
“Jewelry this year is something that pops,” Nelson adds. “Shoppers want tons of bangles.”
Animal pattern prints and fluorescent colors are also top picks at Plato’s Closet in Algonquin. While a little different than a consignment boutique, the store offers gently used clothing at deep discounts, focusing on current trends, says Larry Keen. His wife Barb Keen owns the store, and managers Katie Hazlik and Kristine Gilbo handle the fashion buying.
“Handbags are less slouchy this year,” Hazlik says. “And floral and tribal prints are popular.”
Browns and neutral colors are good selections for fall, and it’s safe to say long formal dresses will stay in style throughout autumn as well, both managers say.
Plato’s Closet doesn’t carry long formal dresses, though, because it’s the short ones that most shoppers there want.
Big, bold statement rings will continue to be a strong fashion accessory, and scarves will change with the seasons.
“Traditional, winter-knit, chunky scarves are big sellers in fall, and then after back-to-school, infinity scarves will be big again,” Gilbo says.
The infinities are a circle of material with a seemingly endless amount of coverage, she says.
“You wrap it around your neck a few times,” she says. “It’s like it has no end to it.”
While satisfying their desire for high quality, sharp style and savvy spending, women who shop at consignment or resale shops also benefit the community.
“I’m helping the people coming in who are being wise about shopping, and I’m also helping the people who are selling because they get 40 percent as a kick back,” Nelson says.
Consigners with Nelson receive 40 percent of the final sale price of their items. Clothing that doesn’t sell is donated to Purple Heart, a nonprofit organization that benefits U.S. veterans, unless the consigners choose to pick up their items.
Resale stores like Plato’s Closet pay sellers cash for items the managers choose to accept. That sets them apart from thrift stores that accept clothing donations and sell them but don’t pay the sellers.
Consignment is fun and environmentally beneficial, too, Conrad says, because unwanted clothes stay out of landfills on their way to coloring up someone else’s wardrobe.
“Many of our consigners only wear their designer, special occasion outfits one time before consigning them,” she says. “So, the styles are still very current when we get them.”