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Decluttering Clothing? Here’s How to Make Some Money

Colorful clothing hung on a rack.
Kaspars Grinvalds/Shutterstock

If you’re doing a massive closet purge, it’s hard not to think about how much money you spent on all that clothing. Here’s how to recoup some of your money.

While you might not be able to make all of your money back on used clothing, some garments could bring back a decent percentage of your money. It’s worthwhile to learn what sells, how to present the stuff you have to sell, and where to sell it for the best profit. Here’s your guide.

Is It Worth Selling?

While there is a market out there for all used clothing that’s still in wearable shape, people won’t be lining up to pay big bucks for a fast-fashion shirt you didn’t pay big bucks for in the first place. And, while you can sell your unwanted clothing for however much you want, people love free shipping when shopping online, so you want to let go of pieces that can net $10 or more so you actually make some money after seller fees and shipping costs. If you only spent $10 on a shirt and it’s not vintage, leave it in the donation box.

Here are some of the questions to answer to determine if it’s worth selling a garment online.

Is It Brand Name?

Check the tags on your clothes. Did you buy that shirt from a boutique store? Is it a popular brand name? Did you buy that dress for $50 or more?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, you should definitely consider selling that garment. A pair of jeans that cost $70 new and are still in excellent shape could easily net you $20 or more depending on where you’re selling them and whether they’re currently in style.

Is It Currently In Style?

You need to know what’s “in” right now before you try to sell your stuff. If it’s the middle of summer, a sweater isn’t likely to sell quickly. If you’re trying to sell low-rise jeans, but mom jeans are the current fad, you might not see a speedy turnaround on your stuff.

The best way to see if something is likely to sell is to look at previously sold garments of that type on the sites you intend to sell through. If you can’t find any recently sold prom dresses, maybe now isn’t the time to let yours go—that doesn’t mean you should donate it; it just means you might want to wait a few months before trying to sell it.

Is It Vintage?

There is a huge market for vintage clothing, both in men’s fashion and women’s. It doesn’t matter how deep into the years the garment is; even clothing from the ’90s is loved by someone out there. If you have anything vintage, garments that are at least twenty years old, consider selling rather than donating.

When it comes to getting the most from your vintage clothing sales, pick a venue for selling that caters to vintage buyers, such as Etsy. People go to Etsy looking for vintage clothing, knowing that there are plenty of vintage shops there, and look for other outlets that may not be as oversaturated, like a local consignment boutique.

Is It Still In Good Shape?

Finally, once you’ve picked out the stuff that could sell, you’ll want to give it a good looking over. Look for wear and tear, like stains, holes, rips, and fading. Some damage could be looked over by a buyer if they want the item bad enough, but you’ll need to be upfront about any damage or flaws in your listings.

If you’re taking the item to a consignment shop, they’ll look for these things as well and are more likely to reject such items.

Where to Sell Your Clothing

There are a few different options for selling your used clothing for profit, but not all of them are equally profitable. Rummage sales can be fun, but people shop them looking for cheap deals, which means that you might only make a couple of bucks on something you could have sold elsewhere for more. If you want to get the best price, you’ll want to sell at a consignment shop or online.

Selling Through Consignment Shops

Not all consignment shops are created equal. Some work strictly with vintage; others want only newer fashions with name brands. What makes all of them beneficial is that someone else does the selling for you.

You bag or box up your garments, take them into the store, they go through what you have, and pick out what’s in-season and sellable. You sign a contract that states how much of a percentage they keep and how much you get. They pick the prices, and you get paid, once a month at many places, after your items sell.

While consignment shops let you sell locally, keep you from needing to run to the post office multiple times a week, and take the work out of selling, the downfall is that someone else is getting a cut of your potential profits. It is worth it, however, if you don’t have the time to take photos and write up clever postings for multiple clothing items.

Selling Online

Selling your unwanted clothing items online is a great way to make a higher profit on what you’ve got. Different sites are better for different items. Here are a few of the most popular places to sell clothing online.

  • Selling on Mercari and Poshmark – You can make good money on both of these selling apps, and both make it easy to snap photos and get your stuff up and ready to sell. People look for deals on Mercari and Poshmark, but they’re also on them looking for brand names and willing to pay good money for what they want.
  • Selling on Etsy – If you’re selling vintage clothing, Etsy is a great place to post it and get attention. Etsy’s platform is strict about what you can sell there, so you’ll only be able to post handmade, altered, or vintage clothing and accessories. Buyers on Etsy are often willing to pay more than buyers on other sites, like eBay.
  • Selling on eBay – Don’t discredit eBay as a selling option, however. If you have some newer fashion items that you think people might really want, posting them as an auction (rather than “Buy It Now”) on eBay could bring you back more money than you expect.
  • Selling Through Facebook Marketplace – One of the newer places for selling online is the Facebook Marketplace. The right buyer will buy nearly anything through the marketplace, so it’s worth a shot posting some of your clothing items up there.

How to Present Your Clothing

Items of clothing hung against a white background.

Snapping a photo to sell clothing online requires a little more than just tossing it on your bed and snapping a photo. You want to present your items in the best light and in a way that allows shoppers to get a good look at all sides of the garment.

Get the Lighting Right

You don’t have to invest in photography studio lights, although they will come in handy if you don’t get a lot of natural light in your home. Pick a room with natural lighting to show off colors and details.

If possible, avoid using artificial light (especially if you’re not comfortable enough with photography to check the color balance and take steps to correct it). If dark blues look black or yellows have a greenish tint, the people purchasing your clothing won’t have a good sense of what they are actually getting. When using artificial light, however, go for the absolute brightest and whitest light you have.

Take Compelling Photos

Lighting isn’t the only thing that makes a good photo. If you don’t want to model the clothing for photos, you can hang stuff on hangers. Hung clothing looks more presentable in photos than clothing left lying flat. If you plan to sell often, keep an eye out for mannequins or dress forms at local thrift shops.

Be sure to take pictures of the front and back of the garments. If there are any flaws, take photos of them so that potential buyers have everything they need to make a decision and so that you get good reviews after their purchases arrive. It’s also beneficial to take tag photos for proof of size and brand name.

Write Accurate Descriptions

Don’t just take pictures of any flaws; describe them as well. Take measurements of each garment to help people better determine if a piece will fit them. Why measure? Sizing varies wildly between brands, so just describing it as a “size 12” isn’t super helpful. But if you include the physical measurement (such as the waist is 32 inches), potential shoppers know immediately if the waist is too big or small. And, of course, describe the color and style.

If you know it, you can also consider including original buying prices. If you’ve only worn an item once, tell potential buyers that—some people prefer new or like-new over well-loved.

Selling clothing online can be lucrative depending on how many places you opt to sell through and what type of clothing you have in your wardrobe. Don’t expect to make all your money back from the original purchase, but with some careful presentation, you can definitely flip quality old clothes for some extra!

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow is a professional writer with two decades of experience. She has written and edited for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and more. Yvonne is a published poet and short story writer, and she is a life coach. Read Full Bio »
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