Shopper Megan Noyes, center, browses the Chanel purses that divorcee Julie… (Christina House, For The…)
At the height of Whitney Barry's marriage, she had a beautiful walk-in closet with more than 50 pairs of designer shoes, cashmere sweaters and handbags.
Now, she's a divorced mother of two who has had to downsize her closet. But she's had help.
She consigned designer pieces for The Divorcee Sale, a fashion event that has been held in Los Angeles, and for the first time this weekend in Orange County. A percentage of the proceeds will go to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and Meredith Israel, a New York woman with stage-four breast cancer.
"It's really the essence of divorce if you think about it," said Barry, of Beverly Hills. "You're doing away with what doesn't work for you."
The woman behind the event, Jill Alexander, might not be a divorcee herself, but the self-proclaimed fashionista came up with the idea after noticing that divorce had become a topic of conversation in her social circle. The tag line for the sale? Her past. Your future.
"Divorce is life," Alexander said. "Why not turn it into a positive?"
On the first night of the sale, Deoras Thompson, 50, was the first in line in a ballroom at the posh Resort at Pelican Hill overlooking the Newport Coast beach. The stay-at-home mom drove an hour from San Diego because she was intrigued by the twist on a consignment sale.
"I think the concept is so unique," she said.
At the event, women were given gift bags with tiny bottles of prosecco (donated by a family law attorney) and thong underwear (because the first step to dating again is new undergarments). Shoppers perused merchandise such as a $4,200 fur-collared poncho by Dior and a Tahitian pearl necklace for $2,750.
There also were less pricey items, such as a pair of Tory Burch silver flats priced at $140, which Thompson snatched up.
Not everyone who consigned pieces was involved in a divorce. And many women came simply for the deals.
Meghan Noyes, 24, of West Hollywood said she loved the theme. She purchased a vintage beige Chanel handbag for an undisclosed price.
"It's a great way to get rid of stuff and help out with a charity," said Noyes, a jewelry designer.
Alexander said she already has booked a sale in New York in September and hopes to expand to other cities. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
As for Barry, she says getting rid of some of her clothes has helped her gain perspective. She'd rather take her children to Sea World or Disneyland than wear a designer dress or shoes.
"I still have great shoes," she said. "I just don't have 50 pairs."