Sisters Andrea Longueira and Christine Hogan of The Designer Consigner in Bardonia say more people are unloaind their unworn professional wardrobes.

Poughkeepsie Journal

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. – Diana Polack loves to shop for clothes. As the owner of ArtWare for Good, an art-based fundraising program in Garrison, she often had to dress up for corporate events and presentations before the coronavirus quarantine hit.

Now, working from home, Polack laughs that her attire is a little different.

“I have fallen prey to wearing the pajama pants on the bottom, but have a really pretty top on for Zoom meetings,” said Polack.

Polack isn’t alone.

According to a survey done by the NPD Group, which measures consumer behavior, just 10% of people get dressed for working from home at the start of the day and then change into comfortable clothes later.

So this year, whether you bought clothes for work or for special events, such as weddings or birthday parties that have since been canceled, your closet is probably filled with unworn newer items.

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Merritt Minnemeyer’s wardrobe is definitely languishing in her closet.

“I love fashion, and am particularly interested in sustainability in fashion,” said the owner of Master of One Coaching in New Paltz, who now works from home and participates in virtual meetings. “I am always conscious of what I wear on top and typically have on  jeans or sweats.”

Jessica Williams said her client-wear has also been sitting idle as she manages projects remotely.

“My typical work attire style is layering tailored and classic pieces with collected jewelry,” said Williams, the founder and principal designer of Hendley & Co., in Newburgh. “The switch to remote working with my clients has also shifted my style to embrace more relaxed and breathable pieces.”

So what happens to the new spring and summer items that are hanging in your closet now that fall and winter are rapidly approaching?

Sell or donate

Cecille Castillon-Weinstein, a closet concierge and owner of Castillon Lifestyle in New Paltz, says you can use your time at home to make room in your closet.

“Consider selling clothes you aren’t going to wear through a consignment shop,” she said. “You have the potential for earning money there. There are also non-profit organizations, like Dress for Success, who can benefit from your donated clothes, too.”

Dress for Success is a worldwide organization that accepts gently used clothing for women to use in the workplace. “They are given to women who are either trying to return to work and don’t have the capacity to purchase such an item.”

If you aren’t willing to part with that new cocktail dress you bought for a party or you want to hold on to the trendy work clothes you have, that’s okay. Castillon-Weinstein teaches her clients how to build what’s called a capsule wardrobe.

“A capsule wardrobe is building a collection of clothes that are classic and timeless,” said Castillon-Weinstein. “Then, you just mix and match them with trends from the year.”

Consignment on the rise

Nicole Wrona said it isn’t necessarily just that people are trying to find an outlet for unworn new clothes, but that all the time spent at home in quarantine has given everyone an opportunity to clean out closets and purge unwanted items.

Wrona owns Simplicity Consignment, an upscale consignment shop in Poughkeepsie which features luxury brands at affordable prices.

“There’s been an increase for sure in people consigning,” Wrona said, “but at the same time, there has also been a decrease in customers coming in to buy items like wedding guest dresses because, for the most part, those have been put on hold. There is no place to go.” 

With donation bins and places like Goodwill inundanted with donations, Wrona said more will turn to consignment for those clothes they are “unable to wear, care for or love.”

Economically, it makes sense, too. “It can be an extra source of income to consign some of those items,” she says.

Andrea Longueira is seeing a lot of items with sales tags still attached coming into her shop, Designer Consigner in Nanuet. “No one is getting dressed for work anymore,” says Longueira, who took over Designer Consigner with her sister Christine Hogan in March. Then they had to promptly close.

With the store newly reopened, the sisters say they are seeing a lot of traffic, both from consigners and customers. “Everyone was cleaning out their closets during quarantine,” says Longueira, “so we got a lot of spring and summer items.”

She expects to see more professional clothing coming in, especially lots of pants, suits and blouses, as more customers become aware the shop has reopened.

“I think people are going to off-load their professional wardrobes,” Longueira said. “I’ve noticed recently, for instance, that women are wearing small crossbody bags; they don’t need the giant workplaces purses anymore because they have no where to go. So those are definitely showing up in consignment.”

There’s still a reason to get dressed in the morning

Castillon-Weinstein says just because you’re quarantined or working remotely from home doesn’t mean you have to stop wearing your work or dress clothes.

“Working from home doesn’t mean that you always have to be in your sweats or pajamas,” she said. “It’s a mindset that you should still be able to feel good and feel better wearing clothes.” 

Polack says now that Zoom meetings have become the norm, she has started putting on makeup to feel less washed out from the lighting. “I even wear dresses to run my errands,” she said.

There are other, more positive reasons some of those clothes might no longer fit in your closet. Thanks to a significant weight loss, Polack plans on donating some of her outsized clothes. “It’s an incentive to not gain weight or be able to wear them next year,” she said.

Lisa Iannucci is a Hudson Valley freelance writer. Contact her at [email protected]

Karen Croke contributed to this story

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