Shopping consignment is nothing to be ashamed of. Who doesn't want to score a bargain on name-brand duds?

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The title of this article really says it all. There's no shame in shopping consignment -- in fact, it should be embraced. The downturn of the economy has been tough on everyone, and most of us are looking for creative ways to stretch our dollars. Expanding your wardrobe might not be as high on your priority list as putting dinner on the table, but if you're a fashionista on a budget, shopping consignment for discounted brand-name clothing might be the answer to all your style woes.

So what exactly is a consignment store? It's a shop that sells secondhand merchandise at a discounted rate. But consignment shops shouldn't be confused with thrift stores. Thrift stores sell donated items, and nothing is given back to the person who donates, except maybe a tax deduction. Consignment stores actually split their profits with the people who bring in the items. So, yes, the goods are still used, but they're usually in much better condition than what you'd find thrifting because the owners of the store only take in a percentage of the sale, so they need to get the highest possible price on everything they sell. Of course, the highest possible price is still a good bit less expensive than what you'll find at malls and department stores. Best of all, most consignment shops will not accept clothing that is ripped, stained or in poor shape and will only sell brand-name items that are currently in style.

Shopping consignment for clothing that you'll only wear once is also a smart way to save a penny. Items such as wedding dresses, tuxes or formal wear can be extremely expensive at retail, but you can get them at a great discounted rate in a consignment store. Don't forget about maternity wear, too! Why spend more than you have to for clothes that you'll only wear for a short time?

Also, consignment stores offer more than just clothes. With the money you save on your outfit, you can get shoes, handbags or jewelry to complete your look. Heck, some consignment shops sell furniture, and many antique stores work on consignment.

If you want even more bang for your buck, try selling your own gently used items to your favorite consignment shop. It's a great way to get rid of clothes or accessories you no longer wear and make some money at the same time! Just be sure the items you take in are clean, stain-free and in good condition. Stores will give you anywhere from 20 to 50 percent of the sale price of your items (depending on the store and what they're looking for).

Shopping consignment is a great way to save money and stay fashionable. And if you're sick of last season's duds (or several pieces of furniture), take them in to make a little extra cash. Just because you're pinching your pennies doesn't mean you're stuck wearing tired clothes. With consignment shopping, you can be a diva on a budget!