She’s Rung out over shopping

Armani jacket is bonus

on this resale shopping spree

By Susan Caba
Resale Evangelista

My friend, Cathy, is shop-a-phobic.

She doesn’t like to make decisions, at least not about things. Choose a space heater at Target? She’d rather shiver. Get rid of unwanted furniture? How would she do that? Go shopping for clothes? Oh my God!

A retired physician and an athlete—golf, tennis, swimming—she can get by, for the most part, wearing sweats, T-shirts and sneakers.photo 2

But even her sports and yoga duds were looking—shall we say, well-worn? And she had some upcoming court dates, in addition to regular symphony tickets that called for a more polished look. Reluctantly–very reluctantly–she agreed to a Saturday morning shopping excursion.

I took her to Rung, one of my favorite St. Louis resale shops. The windows at Rung and its offspring, Sprung, are as carefully styled as any fashion boutique. And these non-profit resale shops–Rung is for women, Sprung for children–deliver on that promise.

Overall, Rung’s clothing is businesslike. There are hip pieces and, if you’re good at mixing and matching, you can pull together an outfit that’s pretty much up-to-the-minute. The clothes are mostly in very good condition, with the occasional stinker. The prices are good (but not Goodwill good) and there are frequent sales.

Work-appropriate suits can be had for as little as $25. There is a small section of designer names–Chanel, Trina Turk, Armani. Those tend toward higher prices. A Trina Turk dress was $70, a charcoal gray Armani skirt, $43. Besides clothing, Rung has shoes, purses and other accessories. Purses start at $12.  Shoes average $20 to $25, though higher quality or designer names can be much higher.

Cathy started hyperventilating the minute we walked into the small, well-appointed shop on Manchester Road. Luckily, I was behind her so, when she turned to exit, I turned her right back around and sat her down in one of Rung’s retro-modern chairs. She flipped through a magazine while I began pulling clothes. (It helps that she’s a size 6 or 8.)

IMG_2811The inventory at Rung is donated. A “significant portion” of net profits go to the  Women’s Foundation of Greater St. Louis, supporting programs for at-risk women and their children. Rung provides receipts for tax purposes and will get rid of items that don’t sell. Even better (at least for me!), they often give donors a coupon for 25 percent off their next purchase.

When I had a arm-load of possibilities, I deposited the clothing and my friend in one of the capacious dressing rooms and told her to get busy. I continued to shop, resupplying the dressing room and removing the rejects. She stepped out every five minutes or so to the three-way mirror, for a second opinion.

Not everything fit perfectly and all the pants needed to be hemmed. But more things fit than didn’t and even Cathy was beginning to relax. After a final culling of the possibilities, she had two tailored suits–slacks and jacket, a couple of additional jackets, a black leather skirt, a red and black dress, a Chinese silk blouse, a purse, a belt and a few other things I can’t quite remember. They all went together in various combinations.

In 90 minutes, we had selected an entire wardrobe. She pulled her credit card and I, naturally, continued browsing.

A charcoal gray and cream silk jacket with flounced and pleated cuffs caught my eye. The jacket was $60. I looked at the label: “Emporio Colleczioni.” On the Armani website, Colleczioni jackets retail for between $1,200 and $1,700. On sale, the prices are cut by about 25 percent. “Cathy,” I called, “try this on.”

The jacket brought her total bill to $400. We were out the door in two hours.

IMG_2815Other than hemming the pants and jacket sleeves, Cathy could probably have worn her purchases just as they were. But if you really want resale bargains to look better than new, spend the money to have them altered.

Cathy has a very good and–to me–a very expensive tailor.  We drove directly there from Rung. The Armani jacket alone, with its elaborate detailing and herringbone pattern that required matching, cost about $150 to alter. Taking in the seams and hemming the leather skirt, as well as all the other alterations, brought the dressmaker’s bill to about $400.

We can’t all afford to drop $800 to $1,000 on clothes in a matter of hours. But Cathy can and ended up with a wardrobe that fit perfectly. And she was thrilled. (It’s more fun to buy an entire wardrobe at once, but there’s nothing to say you can’t buy a piece or two at a time—that’s what I do.) I’ll tell you some other time about taking her shoe shopping–can you believe she thought having one–one–pair of dress shoes was sufficient?

The thing about Rung and other resale boutiques is that choice is limited. And that’s a good thing, especially if choice overwhelms you. The resale boutiques have what they have. If it fits and you like it, buy it. If it doesn’t meet those criteria, pass on by.

Rung

9739 Manchester Rd.,

St. Louis, MO 63119

314-918-0575

Hours:  Mon-Tues, Thurs-Fri: 10 am-6 pm;  Wed: 10 am-7 pm;  Sat: 10 am-5 pm:   Sun: Closed

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