Not going back to the office? How to turn your work clothes into cash

Personal finance

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Over the course of the pandemic, most people’s office clothes hung in their closets, untouched.

Now, with many companies announcing that they’re going fully remote post-Covid, or requiring employees to come in only a few days a week, much of that clothing may become permanently irrelevant for you.

Workwear listings are up 77% in 2021 on the resale marketplace Tradesy, according to the company.

“Many sellers say that even if they do go back to the office, they expect to wear a more casual wardrobe than pre-pandemic,” said Tracy DiNunzio, Tradesy’s CEO and founder.

Here’s are some of your options for those unneeded blazers, heels and other items.

Sell them online

There are several ways to go if you’re looking to turn your old work clothes into cash.

Online resale marketplaces, including Tradesy, Poshmark and thredUP make the process pretty easy.

On Poshmark, for example, sellers take photos of the items they want to sell and set their prices. The company charges a flat fee of $2.95 for all sales under $15, and a 20% commission for more expensive orders. The buyer pays for shipping.

Those who want to sell their clothes on thredUP first order a “Clean Out Kit,” which comes with a prepaid shipping label. After you send your items to the company, it photographs, prices and lists them.

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Have jewelry that you mostly wore to the office?

Online marketplace I Do Now I Don’t can help you sell earrings, rings, necklaces and brooches (they just need to be valued at at least $150).

You photograph the pieces and set the prices, though if an item sells, the company has an authentication process. It also charges a commission between 10% and 20%, depending on the cost of the sale.

…or in person

Another way to make money off your work clothes is to bring them to a consignment shop. On The Association of Resale Professionals’ website, you can search for a store by zip code or merchandise type.

Items are usually priced at anywhere between 25% and 75% of their original cost, said Adele Meyer, the executive director of The Association of Resale Professionals.

Many sellers say that even if they do go back to the office, they expect to wear a more casual wardrobe than pre-pandemic.
Tracy DiNunzio
Tradesy’s CEO and founder

A garage sale is another option, but if you hold one, you’ll want to sell more than just clothing “to attract a wide range of buyers,” said Ava Seavey, author of Ava’s Guide To Garage Sale Gold.

“The more variety the better,” Seavey said.

Make sure the clothing is clean and hung on a rack, she said: “If you don’t have a rack, use rope and hang from a tree, a fence or anything where the garment is hung, rather than on a table or on the ground.”

Selling your work clothes at a garage sale versus online helps you take advantage of people’s impulsivity, Seavey said.

“Online people will search for specific things but at an in-person garage sale, they may have come for a kitchen item and see a cute jacket hanging there and impulsively want that,” she said.

You can typically charge more, too, at a garage sale, she said, “as it is more of an emotional buy and less transactional.”

Get the word out about your garage sale by placing an ad in your local paper, many of which have a space for these events, she said. Free listings are done by Yard Sale Search and Garage Sale Tracker.

“Signs, signs, signs also are great ways to get the day trippers into your sale,” said Seavey, adding that the most successful garage sales are held on Fridays and Saturday mornings.

Donate them

If you’re feeling charitable, there are many people who would benefit greatly from getting your old work clothes. Your donations can also earn you a tax deduction if you itemize (Bankrate.com has a guide to help you value your given away items.) And remember, Dec. 31 is the last day for individuals to make tax-deductible charitable donations for 2021.

Dress for Success provides low-income women with professional attire that they can wear on job interviews. The not-for-profit has dozens of locations around the country (and world), and you can search for a site near you on their website.

You can also find a charity that will pick up your items at DonationTown.org. One of the non-profits they list is the Vietnam Veterans of America, which takes clothing, shoes and accessories.

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