How to make money from your wardrobe

’Tis (almost) the season, but how to fund it? Harriet Nelham Clark on the boom of reselling and why now’s the time to do it 

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By Harriet Nelham Clark on

This week marks the annual launch of Pret’s festive sandwich, meaning that Christmas and all the present-buying, parties and subsequently inflated taxi habit are on the horizon. There’s no point in denying it – my local supermarket has already given over to decorative fruit cakes and luxury panettone, the unspoken rule about waiting until after Halloween in tatters.

’Tis the season – but how to fund it? The answer may well be hanging in your wardrobe – and if you think it’s full of tat, look again. According to a recent survey, the average woman wears just 44 per cent of their wardrobe on a regular basis, hoarding 57 items that fail to see the light of day – that's 3.6 billion unworn tops, bottoms, skirts and so on smothering the nation's bedrooms. Thankfully, reselling is officially on the rise, with sites like Depop – founded in 2012, it now has 350,000 to 400,000 active users a day – making small fortunes for its savvy users. To paraphrase: one woman’s trash is another’s treasure – time, then, to have a lucrative clear-out. Here’s how.

Do the five-outfit test

The big sort. Stretch your arms wide, embrace the entire contents of your wardrobe, unhook, pivot and dump on the bed. Set up a few bags-for-life and follow Carrie Bradshaw’s lead: turn up Aerosmith, try everything on and decide whether to Take or Toss (that’s Save or Sell). Wine and a friend will smooth the process (not too much wine, or you risk getting overly sentimental). You must finish, because you can’t physically go to bed until you’re done. You’ll discover things that are almost new and gems you’d long forgotten about deserving of a new lease of life. But, in general, if you haven’t worn it in the past year and can’t think of five outfits it would contribute to, its fate is sealed.

Donate or flog?

Next, inspect it: does it have holes? Is it discoloured, dated or ill-fitting? Your best bet is a charity shop or, for stuff too far gone, a clothes bank where it can be recycled for car-seat stuffing (these are often found in supermarket car parks). Or, is it still in good nick, worn only a couple of times and maybe even has the tags still on? Then, chances are it’s worth flogging. If you are selling something with a high price tag, then it might be worth sending it on a trip to the dry-cleaner’s to ensure it’s in the best possible condition. A £10 dry-cleaning bill could get you an extra £50 when you sell.

Don’t forget your trainers

According to resale site Vestiaire Collective, trainers have seen the highest growth in resale value, with the number of trainers sold this year up 50 per cent compared with last year. Apparently, Stan Smiths perform the best, so if you’ve got a pair you never wear, give them a clean, thread in some new laces and sell away.  

’Tis the season – but how to fund it? The answer may well be hanging in your wardrobe – and if you think it’s full of tat, look again

Photograph in the bath

There are two options for selling your cast-offs. One is online. There are a plethora of sites that allow you to do this (more on which later), but all require borderline professional photography to fetch a decent price. Even though you are destined to part, take pride in your past purchases – wash and iron them, choose a smart wooden hanger, rather than a wonky dry-cleaner-supplied thing, and find a well-lit plain backdrop. The Pool’s fashion and beauty editor, Frankie Graddon, favours the bath for its perfect white cove and even light; a beautiful Victorian door is a regular feature of my uploads. Make sure the garment is hanging straight and square in the centre of the image; take full front and back and detail snaps of embroidery or prints, ones of the label and washing instructions, fastenings and ones of any defects. Max six pics. A message from a future buyer saying something was wrongly advertised and asking for a refund is miserable and demotivating – don’t let its recipient be you.

Download the app

If eBay was the original resale site, there are dozens more now vying for its crown. eBay still has the highest number of users (read: potential buyers), but beware of overcrowding and the ever more complicated website. The best advice I can share is give up on the desktop site altogether and download the app. It offers a far simpler upload process, with easy access to the photos on your camera roll and notifications to let you know when something’s sold and when it’s been paid for.

Try the lazy option

Vestiaire Collective is “the posh one”. Use for high-end high street (Whistles, Topshop Unique, Jigsaw, Toast, Uterqüe etc), designer high-street collabs and luxury labels, and see more of a return – this is the resale site trusted by fashion editors the globe over to source seasons-old favourites they missed out on the first time round. Each item is authenticated and checked over in Vestiaire’s Paris HQ, so don’t tell any porkies. If you’re feeling particularly lazy, sign up to the concierge service and Vestiaire will even take the pictures and upload them to the site for you.

Depop is less overwhelming than eBay and more “good high street” and trend-led than Vestiaire. Another app, its interface is akin to Instagram.


Whichever you choose, search for similar items before listing, to get an idea of suitable starting prices and the details to include. Titles entered in caps lock will stand out from dozens of other search results and should include the label, colour, size and type of clothing. As a general rule of thumb, think which words you’d hammer into the search bar and use those. Be careful calculating postage – if in doubt, weigh and work out using the post office website. Lastly, list in tune with scrolling habits – auctions ending on a Sunday night tend to get more bidders, jumpers and coats at the first sign of frost, sundresses come the March clock change.

A car boot means wine

Just want to get it all over with without endless trips to the post office over the coming weeks? The car-boot sale is your friend. Get organised before you pitch up – decide on prices (you’ll be less likely to crack under the pressure of hagglers) and pack carefully, so it’ll be easy to arrange when you arrive. On the day, set an early alarm – the sooner you get there, the better your selling space – and rope in someone who loves you to help. And, instead of flogging things desperately for pennies at the close of play, give the leftovers to charity. “This will make you feel a lot nicer,” says The Pool’s deputy fashion and beauty ed, Hannah Banks-Walker, who also offers the eternal wisdom: “Go to the pub afterwards.”  You’ve (literally) earned it.

So, you’ve flogged your stuff and made a small fortune –celebrate your hard-earned dosh with a midweek shopping fix 


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