by Gabrielle Manchester

Shhhhh… I’m going to let you in on the not-so-secret secret of some of the world’s most fashionable women: consignment shopping.  From the streets of Paris to London, New York, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area, there are hundreds of fabulous consignment shops full of luxury steals. They are a great way for die-hard shoppers to relieve the guilt of the impulse purchase by letting go of last season’s finds, and they serve as the perfect place for babes on a budget to pick up like-new designer duds by names like Hermes, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton at a third to a quarter off the retail price tag.

Many women ask me why they should shop consignment or consider becoming a consignor.  The general principle is to let go of what no longer works for you and find new things that do, whether that means making space for this season’s pieces or adjusting to a change in size or lifestyle. Anything too big or too small that cannot be altered must go! A good rule of thumb is to clear out your closet at least twice a year, and don’t hold on to items that no longer make it into your regular rotation. The best consignment shops fill up quickly, so be sure to make an appointment or drop by (depending on their policy) in early fall and spring. They also expect items in like-new condition and very current in style.  That makes them the perfect place to find that gown for your upcoming special event (hello wedding season!) or that Celine bag that you’ve been stalking online but can’t bring yourself to pay full price.  

It’s an adventure! You never know when or where you will discover your next phenomenal find.  I’ve shopped consignment around the world and found YSL bags, Roger Vivier shoes and Roberto Cavalli gowns for dimes on the dollar.  Each of them was the perfect piece I didn’t know I needed until I slipped them on like Cinderella’s glass slipper.

New in town and looking to get to know the area? Checking out the local consignment is the perfect solution. When you see the style of each store, you get a flavor for what the area’s most fashionable residents gravitate towards. When I lived in Paris, I religiously shopped the dépôt-ventes of different arrondissements for fabulous finds. Shops in the Marais were more offbeat and funky, reflecting the sensibilities of its young and hip locals, while in my neighborhood of the 17ème, the stores had more classic and high-end pieces in the style of the upper middle class crowd that gathers there. At Dépôt Vente du 17ème , someone would bring in worn-once Louis Vuitton flats, and I would get them for 1/3 off retail. As a college student on a budget, retail was a trade-off: croissants or Lacroix and Louis Vuitton, but with the dépôt-ventes, I didn’t have to choose!  

Bonus: Shopping consignment and consigning are an easy way to be gentler on the earth, by letting clothes have a second life rather than sending them off to the landfill.  

Check out some of my favorite spots around the world:
Swan Dive exterior
Swan Dive Consignment
One 1st St.
Corte Madera, CA 94957
Tel: (415) 927-3033

Cris Consignment
2056 Polk St.
San Francisco, CA 94109
Tel: (415) 474-1191

8214 Melrose Ave  
Los Angeles, CA 90046
Tel: (323) 655-1960

Tokio 7 Storefront
Tokio 7
83 East 7th Street
New York NY 10003
tel (212) 353 8443

95 Rue de la Pompe
75116 Paris, France
Tel:+33 1 47 04 30 28

Dépôt Vente du 17ème
109 rue Courcelles
75017 Paris, France
Tel: +33 1 40 53 80 82

Pandora Dress Agency
16-22, Cheval Place
Knightsbridge London SW7 1ES
Tel: 0207 589 5289