You see them every time you open the closet: clothes that havent left their hangers in years, shoes that felt perfect in the store but caused blisters on their first (and last) trip out of the house, not to mention the dozens of accessories that you wore long before disco was dead.
But what do you actually do with that Mount Everest of clothes youre ready to get rid of? Donate them to a charity, try your hand at selling them, or swap them for something that will see the light of day.
2 of 5Peter LaMastro
How to Donate Old Clothes
“People should give as much thought to where they donate their clothes as to where they donate their money,” says Goodwill spokesperson Christine Nyirjesy Bragale. The following organizations are all nonprofit.
Goodwill helps provide job training to people with special needs. Its more than 2,600 stores, packed with donated clothing and other household goods, help fund that mission. What to donate: Almost anything―shoes, slacks, lederhosen―as long as the things are in reasonable condition. Like most charities that run thrift stores, Goodwill does not discriminate. How it works: Pickup service is often provided, but you can also drop off clothing at any Goodwill location. But don’t leave items outside a facility after hours―you won’t get a receipt, and they could be stolen or damaged. Where to find it: Use the Zip Code locator at goodwill.org to find a location near you, or call 800-466-9455.
The Salvation Army
One of the largest charitable organizations in the world, the Salvation Army runs many social-service programs, such as homeless services and disaster-relief efforts. What to donate: A good rule of thumb: If you would give an item to a friend, it’s fit to donate. How it works: Drop off your items at any of its 1,526 thrift stores nationwide, or arrange to have them picked up. Most locations don’t require a minimum number of bags for pickup. Where to find it: For pickup, call 800-728-7825. For further information, or to find stores where you can drop off clothing, go to salvationarmyusa.org.
Founded to assist American veterans and their dependents, AmVets offers information and counseling, as well as scholarships for dependents. What to donate: Practically anything, even if it is missing a button or is a tad stretched out. How it works: Call to schedule a pickup. Where to find it: Call 800-810-7148, or go to amvets.org for more information.
Dress for Success
An organization that assists low-income women looking for jobs. It has more than 70 affiliates throughout the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and New Zealand. What to donate: Business clothing, coats, shoes, handbags, and briefcases that are in excellent condition and no more than five years old. Dress for Success is most in need of shoes and clothing sizes 14 and up. How it works: Its annual suit drive, called Send One Suit, or S.O.S., usually runs every spring. Bring your suit to any of the 800 Dress Barns around the country. To donate at another time, check with your local chapter. Where to find it: Go to dressforsuccess.org and click on “Locations.”
The Glass Slipper Project
A Chicago-based organization that provides financially needy high school girls with prom dresses. What to donate: Prom-ready formal wear for women (read: every bridesmaid dress you’ve ever worn) and accessories such as shoes, jewelry, and evening bags. Unused makeup and perfume samples are also accepted. How it works: Drop off or mail in your dresses; include a self-addressed, stamped envelope and you’ll get a receipt after prom season. Where to find it: Go to glassslipperproject.org for shipping information and drop-off locations.
Founded to keep useful items out of landfills, this ecologically minded “middleman” connects you to thousands of charities in need, from soup kitchens to shelters. What to donate: Anything can be posted on the site, from a bag of clothes to household items to furniture. Excess Access just asks that you be honest about the condition of the items. How it works: You can post unlimited items and the site will match what you’re donating to wish lists from local charities. The charity will then arrange to pick up your goods. Where to find it: Go to excessaccess.org for more information.
New Eyes for the Needy
Founded in 1932 to provide better vision for the poor throughout the world, this organization has provided glasses to more than 7 million people globally. What to donate: Metal frames in any condition, unbroken plastic-frame glasses, sunglasses, hearing aids, and cataract lenses. It also accepts jewelry and giftware, which are sold to raise money for glasses. How it works: Mail your items in padded envelopes (or drop them off, if you are near the organization’s Short Hills, New Jersey, offices); include a return address with a ZIP Code to get a receipt. Where to find it: Go to neweyesfortheneedy.org for more information, or call 973-376-4903.
3 of 5Peter LaMastro
How to Sell Old Clothes Online
Selling clothes on the Internet has become a huge business. To help your item sell online, always provide a photo, says eBay spokesperson Jim Griffith.
A huge online auction site, with 125 million registered users and 50,000 categories. What to sell: Almost anything. One man sold his forehead as advertising space for $37,000. The most searched items in the clothing, shoes, and accessories category include Coach, Prada, and Kate Spade. How it works: When you list an item on eBay, you’re charged a small insertion fee, then a final value fee once the item sells. (If you are a first-time seller, check out ebay’s University Learning Center for tips on selling.) Where to find it:ebay.com.
A free, giant online version of your local paper’s classified ads. What to sell: Anything you think you can sell. But if it’s a fake Gucci bag, say so. “Always be open about issues with the item―that’s part of the culture of trust we’ve created on this site,” says founder Craig Newmark. How it works: Unlike eBay, which is generally run as an auction, Craigslist allows you to post your item for the price you want. Interested buyers contact you directly via e-mail, and the rest is up to you. But note that this lack of buffers can make you more vulnerable. Always err on the side of caution when dealing with strangers. Where to find it:craigslist.org.
4 of 5Peter LaMastro
How to Sell Old Clothes in a Store
Bring your items to a resale or consignment shop, and let it take care of the rest. “Make sure you know what the store sells and doesn’t sell,” says Khadijah Kesten of the New York City consignment store INA.
Your clothing is bought outright, and you receive cash on the spot. What to sell: Most resale shops don’t wash the clothes they sell, so bring in yours freshly cleaned and on hangers. Make small repairs if a garment needs it: Sew on missing buttons, or repair a frayed hem. How it works: Once the store buys your clothing and hands over the cash, you’re done. Some locations will give you the option of store credit in lieu of cash. Where to find it: Go to yellowpages.com for locations.
“The seller gets a percentage of the selling price when and if it sells,” says Chris Cowman, owner of One More Time, a consignment shop in Columbus, Ohio. What to sell: Bring in the big sellers: handbags, shoes, shirts, designer jeans, jewelry, and dresses. Pants tend to be a tougher sale, because they’re harder to fit. How it works: Make an appointment to bring in your clothes. The buyer will decide what’s acceptable and how much it should sell for. If one of your pieces sells, you’ll usually receive 40 to 60 percent of the selling price. Where to find it: Go to yellowpages.com or consignmentshops.com for locations.
5 of 5Peter LaMastro
How to Swap Old Clothes
Another approach to recycling clothing involves swapping, which means you trade your things for another person’s.
A group of women gather in someone’s home to exchange clothing. Some parties also allow women to buy or sell clothing for nominal prices. What to swap: It all depends on the rules set forth by the hostess (and, quite frankly, what she’s looking to acquire). One swap party may call for designer items, another for shoes and accessories. How it works: Again, the rules vary. You can swap items based on value. If there isn’t a suitable swap, a guest can offer to buy outright. Every partygoer will usually show up with one or two pieces and leave with one or two new ones. (Swaps tend to be one for one.) Where to find it: Word of mouth.
An international virtual swap party, done entirely via the Internet. What to swap: Clothing, shoes, accessories, and cosmetics. Designer items receive the most attention. How it works: Membership is free. After you’ve registered, the process is much like eBay or Craigslist, only you’re swapping, not selling. Where to find it:swapstyle.com.