With countless weddings, lawn parties and BBQs to attend, who can afford to wear a new designer frock to each event? My secret is consignment. Buy mint-condition pieces for a discounted price, sell your next-to-new goods, and sometimes even help a great charity. Check out these 7 must-shops:

 

1. Helpers House of Couture:  International style icon and philanthropist, Joy Bianchi, turned her love of fashion and good deeds into this 9-room, 100% charity-driven boutique. It features everything from couture to brand-new, an entire men's room, a jewelry room, and one room where everything is under $100. Not to mention, it was named one of the 10 best fashion stores in Vogue's Best Dressed special edition last year. Prices range from $10-$10,000.

How it works: All items are donated and all proceeds benefit the Helpers of the Mentally Retarded. The boutique is by appointment only -- phone 415.387.3031 to schedule. 
Hot right now:  A Manon for Bergdorf Goodman circa 1950s evening gown with a watermelon velvet bodice and pleated pink chiffon from the waist down. Size 4/6, $2,200.

 

2. Helpers Bazaar:  The sister-boutique to Helper's House of Couture, their collection is vibrant with jeweled brooches, and a hearty mix of European and American designers. Prices range from $1-$400.

How it works: All items are donated and all proceeds benefit the Helpers of the Mentally Retarded. 
Hot right now:  A wide, orange cuff with royal blue stone, and rhinestone trim (think David Webb!). 

 

3. Cris:  A lovely consignment boutique featuring modern designer pieces for 1/3 of the original retail price on clothing, accessories, shoes and leather goods. They always have a large selection of Chanel, with some Lanvin, Balenciaga and Hermes thrown in for good measure. Prices range from $200-$800.

How it works:  Come in during their buying hours, price each piece together, leave it in the store for up to 2 months, and split the profits 50/50.
Hot right now: A large, Hermes Kelly bag in black, priced at $13,000.

 

4. Simply Chic: This cute little shop features a wall of handbags, hovering over their fabulous designer clothing selection. They carry a lot of Chanel, Gucci, Bottega Veneta and Chloe pieces, and also have everything listed on their eBay shop. Prices range from $100-$12,000. 

How it works: The consignment split runs 60% (seller)/40% (boutique) for handbags, and 50/50 for everything else.
Hot right now: A vintage Louis Vuitton monogram print travel trunk for $12,000.

 

5. Seconds to Go: Try this consignment haven for younger, contemporary brands like Juicy and Theory. Once you're there, indulge in their fabulous higher end collection of Escada and St. John. Prices range from $5-$4,000 with designer goods starting at $45.

How it works: Donation only. Profits benefit the financial aid program at the Schools of Sacred Heart.
Hot right now: A St. John black, a-line dress with belt, priced at $125.

 

6. SuiGENERIS: For the men out there, check out this top-tier menswear-only consignment shop. They have everything from casual sportswear to vintage suiting, with brands including Gucci, Prada, Yves Saint Laurent, Dolce & Gabbana and Jean Paul Gaultier. Prices range from $15-$1600.

How it works: Schedule an appointment to sell your pieces. The owner prices each piece and the split is an even 50/50. Local designers are also welcome to sell consignment. 
Hot right now: A vintage, double breasted, peak lapel, Ralph Lauren 3-piece suit, in dark brown with chalk stripes, $324.50.

 

7. SuiGENERIS illa Boutique: illa is the women's counterpart to the SuiGENERIS men's store. They launched a few months ago, so they are still building their collection, which means this is a great place to sell your past treasures. That's not to say they don't already have some great Prada, Phillip Lim and Alexander McQueen pieces. Prices range from $15-$1600.

How it works: Schedule an appointment to sell your pieces. The owner prices each piece and the split is an even 50/50. Local designers are also welcome to sell consignment. 
Hot right now: A vintage Christian Dior floor-length, full skirt with polka-dot print, $920.  

 

Lily Ko (lily.7x7 @ gmail.com) studied fashion design and merchandising at Central Saint Martins and the Academy of Art University. In addition to writing for 7x7, Lily is an editor at SF Station, works as a freelance stylist and covers food, fashion and fun on her blog, Curated SF.