As the first-born in my family, I was given brand new clothing. As I continued to grow, my brother often received my hand-me -downs. Of course, he got new shoes, undergarments, and a few new shirts. Mark was the secondhand wardrobe person in our clan. He didn’t mind, because he had a larger wardrobe than anyone else.
After leaving home, most of my income went to tuition, fees, books, and food. There was little leftover for luxuries and clothing. Sometimes, I’d complain about my skimpy wardrobe choices.
One day, my roommate introduced me to secondhand stores, thrift stores, and garage sales. It was an epiphany. I could now afford school and I look hip in class. Because the discovery happened in the early 1970s, the wardrobe choices fit in with the hippie mentality of recycling and reuse. I could look groovy on a tight budget.
The practice of recycling and reuse has remained throughout my life. I also adapted my younger brother’s practice of blending brand new with secondhand to maintain a personal style. A person can dress to impress with little cost.
These days, there are more options from which to choose. The most obvious is eBay. You might live in an area with an active online swap or exchange forum. These enable one on one purchases to and from people in your town. When you use the Internet to buy previously worn wardrobe items, new options appear.
I was pleasantly surprised to find sports team fan gear online. I can show support for my favorite team without paying the inflated prices of brand new stuff. Because merchandise for my teams isn’t available in my town’s retail stores, buying online, secondhand brings it to my home.
I still prefer thrift stores over all other places. It’s easier to examine and judge whether or not you want to purchase the items. A helpful feature about thrift stores is that they have changing rooms. You can try clothing on to find out if it fits and how it looks on you.
The secondhand wardrobe cycle doesn’t need to end at your home. When you get tired of a “gently used” garment, you can swap it with a friend who wears the same size or you can offer it for sale on an online forum. You can always donate to a thrift store. I tell people that I don’t buy clothes, I rent them. To prevent closet overload, when I purchase an item, I re-donate a similar item. This results in a fresh, up to date personal style.
If you host garage or rummage sales, you can offer your own reuseable clothing to your customers. You might be able to use the services of a consignment store, too. If a charity requests donations for a clothing drive, you might share useful, gently used garments with a worthy cause. Some of my acquaintences have time and skill to market their used clothing on eBay or other Internet venues.
However you recycle your clothing, be sure to launder the items first. Most thrift stores will toss dirty clothes into the dumpster. They cannot afford to wash and iron things that come into their stores. Also, nobody wants to bring home dirty garments.
One overlooked aspect of buying or trading secondhand goods is social interaction. There is an entire secondhand/recycling culture. This is a good way to meet like-minded people in a relaxed, safe manner. I’ve noticed that there are many repeat and regular customers at thrift or consignment stores.