How to turn your clothes into cash

If you're anything like us, chances are your closet is crammed with pieces that, tbh, haven’t seen the light of day in ages. Whether you outgrew them physically or just style-wise (it’s OK if it turns out that tie-dye wasn’t your thing after all), now’s the time to try your hand at selling your gently used garments, shoes and accessories for some quick and easy cash.

Back in the day (aka three years ago), you had to take your treasures to a consign- ment store. But now online services like Poshmark, ThredUp and Depop have made selling used items wayyy easier—and likely more lucrative. Plus, you’re saving your pre-loved pieces from the dumpster, which is equally as good for the environment as it is your wallet (textile waste occupies nearly 5% of all landfill space, ugh). So basically, there’s zero excuse to not grant your threads new life. To get the most bang for your buck, follow these tips to make sure your pieces stand out in the sea of secondhand items.

1. Decide what to sell

Sift through your clothes and determine what you should keep—and what you should purge. The key here is to be brutal. Doesn’t fit? Haven’t worn it in three months? List it! (Oh, and the bonus of this closet cleanout is you’ll have the funds—and the space—to stock up on items you’ll *actually* wear.)

PRO TIP: Sell clothes that are appropriate for the current season. If you have a drawer full of cute-but-never-worn crop tops, you’ll profit most by selling them in summer. A fabulous fluffy sweater, however, would be most sought-after in September.

2. Prep your items

Let’s be honest, there’s a chance some of the clothes you’re trying to sell...just won’t sell (looking at you, boring basic capris). Place those items in a donation pile. Also: No one wants to buy your old, faded gym shorts, stretched-out bras or threadbare leggings, so make sure you’re only selling your highest quality pieces. As for clothes that are stained or ripped beyond repair? Upcycle them into rags.

PRO TIP: Buyers heart clothes that look brand new—even when they are not. Give your clothes a makeover *before* you start snapping. Washing and ironing your pieces will make a huge difference.

3. Set up the shots

If one thing sets a successful listing apart from the rest, it’s the photos. At minimum, you should include pics of both the front and back of the piece in your post. To take your listing to the next level, attach a photo of the item being worn. Whether you post yourself rocking the fit or track down an image of the item on a model from the brand’s website, adding a pic of a someone wearing the piece will help potential buyers envision how it would look on them.

Does your garment have an interesting texture, pattern or (eep) imperfection? Make sure to highlight those details in the pictures, too. The key to a successful sale is to provide the purchaser with as much info as possible.

PRO TIP: Grace G., 19, made nearly $300 selling clothes online this year. Her secret to success? “Taking pictures with good lighting and sleek backgrounds,” she says. “It highlights the product—and it makes my page seem more professional.”

4. Draft detailed descriptions

Want to make sure your listing gets the attention it deserves? Write a searchable description filled with the key details buyers want to know. So instead of “white sneakers,” try, “Size 8 High-Top Converse in Optical White.” This way, people who are searching for a particular brand, style or size will have an easier time finding your post.

PRO TIP: Include applicable modifiers like “NWT” (new with tags), “NWOT” (new without tags), “barely worn” or “well-loved” to give buyers an idea of how much use the item has gotten. Keep in mind that items with tags often go for more money than well-used items or items without tags.

5. Price your pieces

There are multiple questions you should ask yourself before pricing your pieces. Like: How old is it? How much did it retail for? Is it in good condition? Is it still on trend? How much are other sellers listing it for?

You wouldn’t sell the Hollister jeans you bought in 2018 for the same price you purchased them for, so make sure you are taking an array of factors into account before listing your items online.

PRO TIP: Familiarize yourself with the platform you’re using to sell your clothes (see left). Some tack on hidden fees and taxes that eat into your profit. The resale market is expected to grow up to $41 billion by 2022, so you might as well get the biggest chunk of cash you can.

6. Monitor your listing

Now that you’ve posted, it’s time to seal the deal. Once people begin reaching out, keep your responses upbeat and informa- tive—and respond to all inquiries ASAP. Answering questions about your items can take time, but your payout will be worth it in the end.

PRO TIP: Post your listings to your social media accounts. London F., 16, runs a popular online consignment store in her hometown. “I usually post pictures of every- thing I’m selling on my Instagram story,” she shares. “It helps drive traffic to my page and my friends like that they get first dibs.”

7. Ship your stuff

You just made your first sale! Now what? Most platforms require sellers to ship their items within three days of purchase, so check your account frequently for instruc- tions. It’s also helpful to have easy access to a printer to print shipping labels as well as a small stack of mailing envelopes and packing materials at the ready.

PRO TIP: Ali T., 17, includes personal touches when she sends off a sale. “I always wrap items in tissue paper and write a thank-you note to the customer,” she says. “It makes a big difference in their experi- ence and leaves them wanting more.”

Which platform best fits your fit? Find out...

If you heart: following trends 

Try: Depop (their cut: 15%)

One of the most user-friendly platforms, Depop specializes in selling trendy, hip pieces to teens (so if your closet is reminiscent of an IG influencer’s, Depop is probably for you).

If you heart: brand names

Try: Poshmark (their cut: 20%)

Poshmark works similarly to many social media platforms: You accumulate followers and alert them when you post new items on your page. Poshmark lets you upload your own photos and prices, but brand name items tend to sell best on the platform.

If you heart: accessories 

Try: Mercari (their cut: 10%)

Selling more handbags and headbands than clothes? Mercari sets itself apart by accepting everything from clothes to home goods. Perfect if your closet cleanout turns into a whole room purge.

If you heart: vintage items

Try: ASOS Marketplace (their cut: 20%)

Specializing in indie labels and vintage, this platform comes with stricter guidelines and more fees than other sites. That said, you’ll be selling to fellow fashionistas so, you know, good style karma.

If you heart: convenience 

Try: thredUp (their cut: 20 to 95%)

Busy babes, take note: ThredUp takes everything from chain-store pieces to designer duds, *plus* they photograph, price and list the items—you simply send them your stuff in a prepaid bag. Easy!

Hey, girl! Just wanted to let you know that this story originally ran in our August/September 2021 issue. Want more? Read the print mag for free *today* when you click HERE.

Gifs via giphy | Images via @thefrugalfox_


by Claire Hutto | 8/4/2021