Sunday, September 27, 2009

DC's BEST Consignment Stores (from

This is a great list of consignment stores in the DC area that I just found on This was originally written by Sara Levine and Gretchen Cook (the descriptions are theirs). I have added some comments about the places I have been to, the addresses and a link to the website - if the store has one. If you have been to others, please let us know how they are!

Best for fashionistas: Grace & Kelli. (7311 Little River Turnpike, Annandale, VA) The boutique ambiance hints at the sticker shock here: Handbags from Ferragamo, Prada, Chanel, and Gucci can run more than $1,000, suits from Akris, Burgamo, and Diane von Furstenburg $100 to $300. But the 30- to 40-percent discount on the latest fashions lure many—and prices drop 25 percent after two months. Online store shows and sells some of the shop’s clothing.

Best for urbanites: Secondi. (1702 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC) In the oft-updated selection of clothing, shoes, and handbags you’ll find designer labels like Fendi, Louis Vuitton, and Gucci. A great place to look for party dresses. [RR says: I agree - a great place for party dresses . . . plus you can always bring them back to resell after your event! I find the prices a little steep for the lesser labels - about the same as you would score on sale at Macy's. However, you can get some nice designer pieces for a good price. Every once in a while, the store will have a vintage piece that is TO DIE for. Secondi also has nice coats each season. My favorite coat from last winter was a faux shearling, vintage suede number that I paid less than $80 for at Secondi. I wore it all winter long! However, I find the customer service a bit spotty, which is always so surprising to me because the owner is amazingly nice.]

Best for socialites: Inga’s Once Is Not Enough. (4830 MacArthur Blvd., DC) The place for such high-end finds as fur coats, Tuleh dresses, and Manolo Blahnik stilettos. The Chanel section is particularly impressive, as is the hidden back room with haute handbags. While prices may seem high, everything is in excellent shape; some items still have tags from Neiman Marcus.

Best for ladies who lunch: Encore Resale Dress Shop. (3715 Macomb St NW, DC) This longtime favorite with socialites offers a good selection of conservative but dressy couture, evening wear, and furs. Prices are most competitive in the everyday category, and don’t miss the $1 bin where an opera-going velvet gown recently landed.

Best for career women: Fashion Exchange. (6663 Old Dominion Dr. # B McLean, VA) A great selection of professional and casually elegant outfits. The small shop has a few upmarket designers like St. John, Christian Lacroix, and Carolina Herrera, but most racks contain midrange separates for as low as $15. Handbags and shoes run to the practical and lower-priced, with a few justifiably costly items like a beautiful Prada purse for $350.

Best for power lunchers: The Ritz. (5014 Nicholson Lane, Rockville, MD‎) Pricey knit suits dominate, with more than 200 by St. John on a recent visit, but the prices on those—average $300—are still one-third below retail. The shop stocks conservative designers—Chanel, Hermès (scarves and men’s ties too), Louis Vuitton—as well as a small selection of furs and casually elegant separates. [RR says - they sell fur. Ugh. Enough said.]

Best for wide selection: Carousel Consignments. (12168 Nebel St, Rockville, MD‎) From $15 Ann Taylor slacks to midprice evening wear to $400 Chanel suits, this is a one-stop shop for top designers and affordable brands—and the discounts are some of the best around. The friendly staff will help you pick through the selection.

Best for your first job: Clothes Encounters. (202 7th St SE, Washington, DC) Lots of young Hill staffers head here. The prices are low, and the selection skews toward business attire: jackets, pantsuits, conservative dresses. [RR says: I've gotten some cute accessories here for super cheap: a Coach belt for $5, a Banana Republic suede hobo for $25. The selection is less interesting than at Secondi, but things get marked down a lot, so it is a fun place to stop into if you are visiting Eastern Market.]

Best for a (discounted) splurge: Second Chance. (4920 Fairmont Ave, Bethesda, MD‎) This small shop doesn’t have truly cheap finds, but you may spot an Yves Saint Laurent dress or Ferragamo shoes at a discount. If the gently used designer finds are still out of range, visit during twice-yearly sales.

Best for stylish everyday wear: Current Boutique. (2529 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA‎) There are some designer pieces at this shop, which stocks new and consigned items, but the emphasis is on midprice brands—think Banana Republic or Seven jeans. Fun jewelry, too.

Best for dressing up: Chic to Chic. (15900 Luanne Dr, Gaithersburg, MD‎) The chandelier says it all: couture clothing mixed with great service. Power suits mingle with sexy separates. Eveningwear from Moschino, Max Studio, James Perse, and Versace offers the best choices—with bargains like a $98 Nicole Miller cocktail dress. Lots of items are new because the owner shops retail sales.

Best for European flair: New to You. (108 W Broad St, Falls Church, VA) French rock sets the scene for hard-to-find couture—like a Thakoon evening jacket ($369) and a Roland Mouret jacket ($520). The style is largely for young, well-heeled hipsters looking for True Religion, Seven, and Citizens of Humanity jeans at one-third below retail, but professional women can find sophisticated or sexy separates, handbags, and shoes. Don’t miss the fine jewelry, which recently included a pair of 18-karat Cartier hoops for $1,645 ($1,000 off retail).

Best for teens: Mustard Seed. (7349 Wisconsin Ave, Bethesda, MD) Though the consignment selection can be hit-or-miss, prices are good, and there are always plenty of jeans to peruse—with patience, you’re likely to find a good pair, no matter your age. The store also sells vintage and new items. [RR says: Yes, many teenagers! And many teenager type clothing! The boutique has also started selling new items as well, so definitely keep an eye out if you are buying something new or something old. Last winter, I got a grey vintage wool dress that was one of my staples for winter events. We've gotten some shoes for my fiancé there as well. It is not convenient for me to go there and I wouldn't make a special trip out of it - just not enough things to make it worth it.]

Best vibe: Diva Boutique. (116 S Pitt St, Alexandria, VA‎) Housed in a lovely three-level Old Town rowhouse, owner Cindy McCartney’s shop is as cheery as she is. She sets out candy and other goodies for shoppers as they browse the well-edited selection of designer dresses, jeans, shoes, handbags, and more.

RR says: Remember that buying secondhand or vintage clothing is absolutely the greenest way to do fashion! But, don't forget to bring your own very fashionable, REUSABLE bag - you will definitely lose green karma points if you take your nice "new to you" clothes home in a plastic bag!!


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