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Living in Style: Shopping consignment

Wednesday - 4/24/2013, 8:28am  ET

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Lisa Tumbarello shows how to shop consignment at Second Time Around in Georgetown. (WTOP/Alex Beall)
  • Gallery: (6 images)

Paula Wolfson and Alex Beall, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - In today's economy, everyone is looking for a way to save a little extra money. What if you could save while still getting those new spring trends?

Lisa Tumbarello from Style for Hire, offers tips to save by shopping thrift and consignment.

"(It's) a great place to experiment with trends without shelling out a lot of money," Tumbarello says. "So, if like big chunky necklaces are in and you want to experiment with that, but you don't want to bite the bullet and buy some expensive costume piece, then absolutely hit the thrift and consignment shop and find something fun and funky and it won't break the wallet."

Lisa met WTOP at Second Time Around consignment shop in Georgetown to talk about how to save, and earn, a little cash while updating your wardrobe.

Navigating the floor.

Shop your favorite consignment and thrift shops often because unlike big box retailers, the merchandise is always changing. If you see an item you love and it's perfect for you, snatch it up because it will gone tomorrow. But know your store's return policy. Most are final sale only so try everything on before you purchase.

Know the difference.

Consignment and thrift shops operate differently so know what to expect at each. People can sell back their new or barely used clothing at consignment shops, but thrift shops run on clothing donations.

You will run into more quality issues at thrift shops, but consignment shops are a great place to look for high quality items that once were expensive on the rack and are now marked at a deep discount.

Earn a little money of your own.

At consignment shops, you can recoup some of the cost on your shopping "mistakes" or items you didn't love enough. But remember to check the quality of your clothing. Consignment shops will only accept your items if they're in good condition. Then after selling your clothing back, you can use the extra cash toward a new piece you will love.

Quality check.

Before purchasing, check the zippers and seams and check for stains and holes. Occasionally you'll find pieces with the tags still on, but most consignment and thrift items have been previously "loved." Some pieces may have quality issues even though consignment shops usually check quality before the clothing hits the floor.

But most problems can be easily fixed with a few stitches, a new button or a quick wash. Remember though, you won't be able to return the item even if you can't fix the problem.

Know your tailor.

Tweak as needed with alterations. That should be your motto when shopping consignment. A tailor can repair a seam, take in a jacket and shorten a sleeve or hem. Don't leave it on the rack because it isn't perfect. Also because you have a little extra cash to use a tailor, shop up or down one size from what you actually are because items can be altered or may have already been tailored.

Test it out.

Consignments are a safe haven for experimenting with new trends. If you want to try new bold, fashionable, funky or statement pieces, scour consignment and thrift shops instead of shelling out a lot of money on an expensive piece you may not wear often, or ever again.

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