The Beauty of Boutiques (Part Two)

Screenshot of Alexandria, Va. boutique district website.

Venturing out of your go-to stores can be scary enough when you have curves. And, being really, very honest—for a long time, I was nervous about being the only brown girl, stranded and unable to fit into anything, in an expensive boutique. But I was wrong; boutiquing is fun and there are some great reasons to buy and even sell your own clothes at vintage consignment stores.

So, if you’re still not convinced, in this part two of Curve-Friendly Boutiquing, I’m going to tell you a little more about consignment stores to help you shake off the last of your fears.

You won’t be ‘the only one’

Many already know this, but for the rare folks out there who don’t (like I used to be) — boutiques are for everyone. Whether you’re on U Street in northwest DC, or on King Street in Alexandria. Consignment clothing stores get most of their inventory from the general public (a general public of fellow fashionable women) who once loved, but can no longer keep their clothes. And those women come in all shapes, colors and sizes.

Trust me, you’ll go, everything will be cute, people will be superwoman-nice and you’ll have fun.

It’s like having a backstage pass

New clothes are new. Great. Good for them. But this is about access. This is about being exposed to brands and designers you’ve never heard of before, this is about finding something you’ve heard about but you thought was impossible to still get. This is about enjoying ridiculous discounts when you do find something you love, and it is in your size, and it is not from any store you’ve heard of before in your whole life. Do you see what I’m doing here? I’m giving you the Xzibit version. (You’re going to boutique ontop of your boutiquing, ontop of your boutiquing!) Normal shopping is bilateral: you and what’s on the hanger, or what the store has to offer you. Boutiquing yields all kinds of new benefits and sensations.

Going to a boutique to shop is, really, going out to get your mind blown. All over your face. No, boutiques won’t usually have a range of sizes if you find something that you like in the wrong section. But if you can and do get to take that twelve-point-buck home and hang it up in your closet, you feel pretty damned clever for making that happen. Even better, if someone asks you where you got your great outfit, you can do that whole smug thing where you say ‘it’s vintage, and this was the only one.’ It’s a good feeling.

Don’t worry, great quality is definitely there

Also, a lot of the nice boutiques in the DC area look over what they take in first and will only sell you something that has been gently used, not totally abused. Hey, they make their money off of the mystique of giving customers something great that they can’t get anywhere else, and then on top of that, they have to compete with other boutiques trying to do the same thing. So they have to make the effort and deliver the best quality stuff they can get. And, it’s their job to know what different brands are really worth—which is almost like having a personal shopper vet everything before you even touch it.

You’re in a store full of studs, not a few overpriced showpieces and a bunch of duds, is what I’m trying to say. *cough* H&M *cough*

I’ve spoken to a few boutique saleswomen over the years and they have emphasized that, in addition to taking only quality clothing, they will not take something that you could buy just anywhere. For example, they might maybe take something from H&M, and H&M does have some wonderful things, despite my fake-coughing earlier… but only if this H&M piece has a really classy, finely tailored look. Now, with all that in mind, I would still look over the item of clothing carefully after you’ve tried it on (always try it on) to ensure there aren’t any damning tiny holes or stains on the outfit. But a good amount of consignment clothing passes this test. On that note, don’t be surprised if one day, you decide to clean out your closet and take your best clothes down to the local boutique and they shock you by turning some of it away.

And how do you sell your clothes to a boutique?

Reddz and Current Boutique shopping bags.
Tip: REDDz Trading also has a men’s section.

Oh yes, you can make a little money on the side by cleaning out your closet. I remember some specific boutique guidelines off the top of my head, so I can try saving you some planning time. But definitely speak to a salesperson at one of these stores first for up-to-date information before you decide.

  • When I asked a while back, Frugalista (Mount Pleasant) told me that they will take your clothing in exchange for store credit. Which means, you could potentially replace your entire wardrobe with a whole new wardrobe from their store… clever, eh?
  • Mustard Seed (Bethesda) will take your clothing and give you a percentage of the earnings if it sells. But they will wait to send you money until after a certain amount of your clothing sells… so you don’t have to worry about getting tiny nickel’d and dime’d amounts.
  • Current Boutique (U Street, Bethesda, Alexandria, Clarendon) I believe, gives you a choice between a percentage of the earnings when your clothing sells, or store credit. So you could even save money on the clothing that you buy from their boutique, ontop of everything already being at vintage prices.

And for a full list of awesome DMV consignment boutiques, check out dc.racked.com.

What was your best ’boutiquing’ experience?

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