As the D.C.-based brand manager for Consign of the Times, Erika Tapia Schrieber sees it all — insanely awesome clothes, shoes, and bags; messy closets; and savvy shoppers who know how to make (and find) a great deal. In her 9-to-5 drill, Schrieber makes house calls to scope out stylish wardrobes all over the DMV, setting aside the truly covetable finds and consigning them for sale on the website or in one of the Miami-based store locations. Along the way, she helps consignors get their at-home organizational skills up to par and make some cold, hard cash off their once-loved investment pieces. We sat down with Schrieber to talk cleaning out, consigning, and making your wardrobe as functional and fashionable as hers — click through for the full scoop!
Photographed by Maria Carey
Tell us a bit about Consign of the Times — how does it work?
"We're a high-end consignment company with physical locations in Miami and an online store. We stock coveted luxe labels like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and the like. Here in the DMV, we offer our complimentary 'concierge consignment' service, where we will pick up your designer wares at your home and even help you clean out. Convenient, huh? But, ultimately, we are all about bridging the gap between the women who want to monetize their closets and those who want luxury for less."
Schrieber's very well-edited wardrobe.
What has your experience with D.C. closets been like so far? What kind of stylish secrets are lurking in our wardrobes?
"The women of the D.C. area are classic with a twist. I've found an iconic Chanel handbag, and in the same wardrobe, there's a quirky pair of bright Marc Jacobs booties. They like to play with fashion, but in a totally classy way, and I love that dynamic."
Now, let's get down to business — how do you approach a closet clean-out?
"We approach it with a dual role. It should always feel like you are playing dress up with your best girlfriend, while also getting advice from an investment counselor. We'll sit down together in front of your closet and weigh what's worth consigning and what's worth keeping. Editing your wardrobe can be an emotional task, so we tread softly and let the consignors be the leader."
We love how you've organized your jewelry! Do you have any other organizing tips you can share?
"Absolutely! First of all, you must be able to see everything. I can never stress this enough. The truth is, if it's out of sight, it's out of mind. Line up your shoes; use pretty open-top baskets for accessories, like sunglasses and scarves; fold heavy sweaters (you don't want any warping shoulders). If you're a jewelry fanatic, never underestimate the power of a commercial jewelry organizer for small spaces — they can be found on the cheap and are very effective. [When you're not in] transition seasons like fall and spring, put away seasonal items!
Hang as much as you can — including denim and bottoms — and organize your closet by item (i.e., tops, dresses, etc) rather than color. This way, you know exactly where to go to find an outfit for, let's say, a hot date.
Make it your mission to edit your closet down so that you have a one-inch space between each hanger, which ensures everything is wrinkle-free and ready to wear. I first got a rolling garment rack when I started freelancing as a stylist and found that they are great for wardrobes, if you have the space. I use my rolling rack for shoots, but mostly I hang pieces I'm excited to wear and staples I wear often, or to organize looks for a weekend trip or vacation!"
For the do-it-yourself types, how should someone approach their own closet if they're thinking about cleaning out and consigning?
"It's officially spring, so everyone should be cleaning out and reorganizing! When it comes to your wardrobe we all know that hard-and-fast rule: If you haven't worn it in six months, consign or donate. Beyond this, however, I would encourage you to take a hard look at each piece. Set aside a few hours to try everything on and ask yourself some probing questions. How does it fit? How do you feel in it? Is it how you want to represent yourself? How often do you wear it? Is it in good shape?
If you're unsure, ask yourself if the cash you can get for it is worth more than the possibility of wearing it some day. That's always the kicker.
From there make a pile for keep, consign, and donate. Organize the 'keeps' right away; put the 'consigns' and 'donates' in your car immediately. That eliminates the part where you question yourself or go through the piles again and add anything back to your closet."
Your wardrobe is really well-edited and organized. How do you keep everything so pared-down?
"It's not about quantity. It's about quality and fit. My wardrobe is, and will always be, a work in progress — that's what I love about it. Fashion is always changing, but it should be fun and make you feel good. It is, after all, an expression of who you are. As a professional, though, there certainly is a science to it. I find that with my own wardrobe, I like to keep it 50% classics and 50% trends — but this varies across the board with every individual. It's about what's important to you. I like to play with trends — why not?"
What kind of items do you look for specifically for Consign of the Times?
"You know that moment when your BFF sits down for brunch and debuts an off-the-runway Gucci handbag or an as-seen-on-SJP Louis Vuitton African Queen clutch and the whole group gasps, 'Where did you get that bag?' That's the bag we're looking for. Who knows — maybe she even got it from us! Our clients come to us for hard-to-find, on-trend, of-the-moment handbags, shoes, and accessories they could find in Neiman Marcus or Bergdorf's, but for a steal."
What's your dream score for Consign of the Times? And what about for yourself?
"With a lot of work over more than a decade and a little bit of luck, we've stumbled upon some of the most exquisite closets. I have to say, besides Khloe Kardashian's neon yellow Birkin, any dream score we've probably already scored. Custom Gucci, runway Chanel, rare Louis Vuitton, Hermes skins...we've had them and will again.
But, for myself, I've spotted a few floating around the DMV. Hello, Chanel Grand Shopper in red caviar leather? Can you hear me? I'm also on a Givenchy handbag kick these days. This week, I'm feeling the Antigona bag in medium...it makes me salivate."