If you bat a thousand when it comes to style-related purchases, you're my hero. I've never known anyone who adores and uses every item she ever buys and never makes a shopping blunder, but if you are she, you are AWESOME. For the rest of us mere mortals, purchasing missteps must be dealt with on occasion. In my experience, there are three main choices for items you feel won't work in the long run: Return, repurpose, and resell. Here's how I break down my choices.



I return anything that doesn't fit, is damaged, wasn't what I expected, doesn't work within my wardrobe, and, of course, is returnable. Seldom do I purchase anything that I'm unsure about if it's a final sale situation, but it has happened once or twice. I'm more inclined to return items quickly if they are expensive, since I absolutely hate to have money missing from my account that should eventually be mine again, but once I've decided to return something I get a bit obsessed. Even small items will get whisked back to their respective stores or dropped into the mail within hours of the decision being made. Nothing irks me like missing the return window on an item that I have no intention of keeping or wearing.


I generally only repurpose thrifted, used, older, gifted, or non-returnable items. As I'm sure is the case for most of you, if I can get my money back, I'd prefer to do so. But if I can't, and there's a way to make something work, I'm willing to give it a whirl. And I'll also repurpose items if they're extremely close to being perfect, and I'm quite certain I can nudge them into perfection using my own skills and tools at hand. My repurposing projects are pretty slapdash, and include things like hacking already-washed jeans into clamdiggers, over-dyeing eBayed skirts, and cutting dress hems into infinity scarves. I've also had help from my tailor with tasks like hemming and taking in, but consider that to be a bit different than true repurposing.


For whatever reason, I only feel comfortable reselling or consigning shopping duds that have stuck around a while. I don't give up easily on challenging items and prefer to have several rounds of battle with them before admitting defeat. But once it becomes clear that something simply won't work for my style or figure, and if it has any resale value whatever, I'll hit up my consignment haunts. I have two main reselling criteria: Excellent condition and recognizable brand name.

Items that don't fit those two criteria slide into an important fourth category: DONATE. Giving quality, undamaged items to your favorite charity shop is always a good option since you can write off the donation, feel fabulous about supporting a good cause, and know that your goods will continue to get used even though you're done with them yourself. I donate far more than I repurpose or resell, but if I've bought an item myself, I feel like it's perfectly fine to either try to utilize it or attempt to recoup my losses.

When do you return, repurpose, and resell your shopping misfires? How do you decide what to make work and what to let go? What to resell and what to donate?

Sally McGraw is the author of Already Pretty, a daily blog about the intersection of style and body image. 

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