Dear Answer Angel Ellen: I recently started shopping for clothes on the resale sites you’ve been writing about. What took me so long? I’ve found some incredible bargains but I’ve also found that it takes forever to find what I’m looking for. When I search for a specific item — a certain brand and in my size, there often are hundreds (thousands, even) of results to sort through, many of which are NOT my size or the brand I’ve specified. Also, I’m surprised that some sites offer pretty beat-up, washed-out items that look like they should be in the giveaway bins. Any timesaving tips to help me in my online bargain searches?
— Sandi T.
Dear Sandi: I’m so glad to hear you’ve started shopping these sites. Not only can these sites you save money, but they’re also useful for favorite items that have been discontinued. And, of course, there is the reuse/recycle aspect of helping the environment. I have a favorite running bra that has been out of production for years, but I can find them with relative ease at these sites.
If you know exactly what you’re looking for, Many sites let you fill out forms to alert you when your favored item is listed. But another way to limit the number of search results you must flip through is to search for your items “NWT” and “NWOT.” NWT is New With Tags; NWOT is New Without Tags. Both mean the items are pre-owned but not previously worn. My friend Maggie, who has taken up swimming to burn pandemic calories, was desperate for some high-quality name-brand swimsuits but didn’t want to pay the $100-plus they often sell for. Her NWT searches turned up just what she was looking for at prices 25 to 40% of the original retail price. Score!
For those who haven’t experienced the joy of online wardrobe bargain hunting, here are some sites to explore. Readers, send me your favorites, please: thredup.com; eBay.com; mercari.com; tradesy.com; depop.com and for luxury labels, therealreal.com and us.vestiairecollective.com.
Online shopping can go horribly wrong too…
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: Do you have any experience with the sites for prom, wedding and mother-of-the-bride dresses that have many dozens of styles and about 45 color choices? They seem to be located out of the country. When you log into their sites, you are bombarded with coupons, sales, animations, etc. In addition to an abundance of colors and styles, they show many dress styles on both slim models and plus-size models, which is helpful. But I heard from someone who ordered from one of these sites that there is absolutely no way to return anything — no address in the packing materials. Her dress came in the right size and fabric, but looked nothing like the style she ordered. I wonder if any of your readers has had good or bad experiences ordering custom dresses from these sites?
— Allison F.
Dear Allison: So many of these sites seduce you with beautiful pictures and too-good-to-be true prices. Some simply pirate professional photos of legitimate fashions from trusted websites and what you get for your money looks nothing like what you ordered, if you receive anything at all. And good luck ever getting your money back. As a rule, steer clear of all the too-good-to-be-true offers. And readers who have actually received items tell me that the sizing often is laughable. A large or extra large turns out to be a U.S. Size 2 or 4. You get the idea. Consider yourself warned!
From Donna H.: “It’s no wonder women don’t wear bras that fit. Have you looked at ads for bras? The model isn’t wearing one that fits, either. So if that is what we are trying to emulate, we have a guaranteed fail. Keep on curating our wants, needs and rants. You’re the best!”
Janice O. writes: “For your reader Jennifer who complained that the 100% cotton T-shirts she loves shrink in length even though she doesn’t use the dryer, I am only 5′4” and 125 lbs., but I buy Lands’ End (landsend.com) Women’s 100% cotton T-shirts in size Small Tall. The Tall gives enough length so that even if there is some shrinkage, you don’t end up with a boxy shirt.” From Ellen: Why didn’t I think of that? Many thanks, Janice.©2021 Tribune Content Agency, LLC