Last Friday, my mom, dad and I went out for a nice dinner with some other couples that mom hadn’t seen since before she got sick (Dec. last year.) Several people remarked that Mom looked great (she did) and how pretty her slinky turquoise dress was. One lady went so far as to ask where she had gotten it. “Oh, it was a gift from Mallory,” she said quickly. “Well, its beautiful. Where did you buy it?” “Um. Hmm, I don’t remember where.” But actually I did know, and so did Mom. I got it at my favorite thrift store. It cost all of $5 and it had been brand new, still had the original tags on it, from Nordstrom’s actually, where it originally sold for $72.
If I hadn’t thought that it would embarrass Mom, I would have gone ahead and told my mom’s friend about my great find. I am not only not ashamed of buying second hand, I truly believe in it, for lots of reasons. Here are a few of them:
1. People tend to think of second-hand clothes as being stained, ripped, and from grandmas’ closets from 1972. And sure, you can find all that at thrift stores. But you can also run into high fashion, ultra-hip or fancy brands that are just there because they didn’t fit any more, or because they were a gift that someone didn’t fancy. You might have to hunt a little more to get the good stuff, but that’s part of the fun.
2. You probably won’t run into anyone who has your exact outfit on. You can develop a unique style. I get compliments all the time on my clothes. Almost none of it was purchased “new.”
3. You can support worthy chairities that assist the poor and provide jobs for disabled people, people with language barriers, and other people who might have a hard time getting a job. I would rather support the Salvation Army than the 4 Walden heirs of Walmart who each make over $4 billion a year individually but can’t provide health care for their workers.
4. Because it is still Hollister/Nike/Columbia/Prada/Ann Taylor/Talbots/Lands End/Hanna Andersen no matter where you bought it. (And yes, I have found all of the above designers at my local thrift stores.) My kids are at that stage where “labels” are important to fit in. My daughter even had a girl at camp say “I know you are rich because of your clothes!” We had a really good laugh about that one. But, I have to admit that sometimes you get what you pay for when you are buying new, and this way I get the “good brands” whose quality is a little better than the “K-Mart Fall-aparts” I would otherwise be able to afford.
5. You will be recycling and saving the world’s resources. You will also be saving tons of pesticide from being used to grow cotton, petroleum products from being used to create synthetics, not to mention packaging and transportation fuel. There will be a little less demand for sweat shop labor. Make no mistake–every action is political. Buying decisions are political. (And you thought you were just being cheap!)
6. You will be buying locally. Your dollars will go to support your own community.
7. You’ll have the thrill of the hunt and the joy of discovery. Not to mention those awesome Steve Maddens that match your new dress perfectly, in great shape and in your size.
8. Because all clothes are “used” the minute you purchase them new and take them out of the store. That’s right: you have a closet full of used clothes right now!!!
9. Ok, yes, it is cheap. Use the savings to donate to charity, buy organic food, invest in your kids’ education, put away more for retirement, get naked and roll around in all the money you saved…what? you don’t do that?
10. Buying second-hand makes a ton of sense for parents of babies and little kids. I don’t have to tell you that they outgrow their clothes before they wear them out, right? And we’re talking about people who are going to spit up and smoosh peas on whatever you buy them, whether it comes from Goodwill or Nordstrom’s. Like to dress your little sweetie in Osh Kosh, Little Me, Carter’s, Hanna Andersen? I find hella cute things all the time that make me wish I still had a little ankle biter at home.
11. Are you pregnant? Why spend a fortune on clothes that you are only going to wear for a few months? Save the money for your baby’s college fund.
12. Right now, I am changing sizes rapidly as I lose weight. I can get a whole new wardrobe, then turn around and donate it and get more new-to-me clothes without guilt. I lose 5 pounds? I deserve a new little something.
13. When I find those awesome, still has the tags on, way cute, big name item that doesn’t happen to fit me or anyone I buy for? I sell it on ebay. Cha-ching!
So Goodwill, Salvation Army, Union Gospel Mission, Value Village (run by Vollunteers of America), William Temple House, American Cancer Society Thrift store, you will continue to see me there. Save the good stuff for me, wouldja?