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In Post-Pandemic DC, Consignment Stores Don’t Want Your Skinny Jeans or Business Suits

But if you're looking to unload going-out gear or designer sneakers, the market is hot.

From a lack of business attire to an increase in athleisure, the pandemic significantly altered what local consignment stores carry in their inventory. Photo courtesy of Unsplash user zuizuii.

In post-pandemic Washington, stiff, formal clothes are out, and anything fun, breathable, and comfy is in, say local consignment shop owners.

Magenta Howard, manager of Current Boutique on 14th Street, notes an increase in demand for natural fibers—like cotton and silk—and more people in the market for high-rise bottoms and cottagecore pieces. For Current Boutique consigners, this combination means the end of reselling skinny jeans. The store no longer accepts them. “They just weren’t moving at all,” says Howard.

Current Boutique, like many other consignment stores in the area, has also stopped accepting business wear—a disappointment to the influx of people trying to offload unwanted suits to make room for less formal options. Anyone with athleisure or loungewear to consign, though, will almost surely have better luck.

“People are going to go back to offices, but people are not going back in droves and I think things are going to be much more casual than they used to be. I just think times have changed,” says Wendy Ezrailson, owner of Reddz Trading.

Also hot right now: Going-out gear, now that bars, clubs, and parties are back in full swing. Weddings are starting to come back as well, along with bridesmaid and bridal dresses in some (but not all) consignment stores.

“I think people want to get dressed up a little bit because they haven’t in so long. So they’re kind of excited to come in and try and find a cool dress or a cool pair of wide-leg pants or something like that to wear,” says Ezrailson.

But the trend that might best encapsulate this post-pandemic fashion paradox is what’s going on with shoes. Shop owners say comfy sneakers and high heels are both booming. “Our flats aren’t selling at all,” says Howard. “Our designer shoes have really started selling. I think in the past like three weeks or so we had maybe 10 pairs of designer shoes sell.”

Gail Stern, owner of Clothes Encounters DC, has also observed people pairing sneakers with fancy dresses. And she says more customers are turning toward the second-hand market for high-end sneaker brands like Golden Goose.

It’s hard to predict which trends will stick around for the long haul. But it’s probably a safe bet that nobody misses sweating through a business suit on a brutal DC summer day.

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Editorial Fellow

Melissa Santoyo joined Washingtonian in July 2021. She is a rising junior at Northwestern University studying journalism and art.