They were called 'jumble sales' and I loathed them. They were the used clothing sales where my mom bought most of our outfits when we lived in England.
When the sale began on a Saturday morning, the pre-loved garments were neatly laid out on tables in the church hall. But 20 minutes in, dozens of hands picking through the piles left them well-and-truly 'jumbled.'
After we moved to Canada, money was still tight for my family. Hand-me-downs from friends were the new threat. Some of them fit okay, but colour was a whole other issue. Much of the light clothing had taken on a grayish tint, from being washed too often with the darks. Most of the dark clothing was faded.
Working at an international aid agency today, I now know how lucky I was to have so many clothes of any kind. But as a young girl, very few of the outfits were what I'd have chosen for myself.
Buying brand new
As soon as I got my first job, I began buying my own things -- new. I remember the excitement of filling my closet with straight-from-the-factory items that no one else had worn!
Running my hands over the row of clothes on the hangers, I reveled in the true colours of the dye, and the crispness of the fabric. I often left the tags on until the last minute before wearing, to remind myself that these were no one else's hand-me-downs.
I grew up figuring that used clothes were an unfortunate function of low income and tight budgets. I would never have imaged that, as an adult in a home with two incomes, I'd be happily choosing to buy them. Yet at 44, I buy most of my outfits in second-hand stores. And I love wearing these clothes to work, out to dinner, and even to special events like parties and weddings.
Returning to second-hand
My change of heart didn't happen overnight; it was a gradual transformation. It began after the birth of our first child, as we tried to pay for daycare while keeping up with his constant growth spurts. But perusing the adult racks one day while the baby slept in his stroller, a whole new world opened up.
Here are five things that surprised me about buying second-hand:
So this New Year, why not reach out of your comfort zone and into the racks of a second-hand store? You may be surprised by what you find there.
Learn more about No Child For Sale, and how considering new shopping habits can help children.