Okay, here is a bit of unabashed proselytising for the purchase and wearing of secondhand clothes. I have intuited from the looks people often give me when it comes up that I buy a lot of my own and The Booba's clothes secondhand (ie like I am growing a second head) that many are dubious as to their merits. Here are some of the reasons I've gathered regarding why people don't buy wear secondhand clothes, and my responses to them:
1. "They are dirty"
True, some charity shops seem not to wash garments before offering them for sale, and yes, this is a bit yuck, but I think by and large most reasonable people wash clothes before giving them away anyhow. I think most reasonable people would also wash any clothes they've bought secondhand before wearing them too (I do). And by and large I have to say that 99.9% of the clothes I come across in secondhand shops are clean. So I call that myth busted.
2. "They look 'raggy'"
People might think this because we all tend to chuck own raggy clothes in charity bins. However charity shops don't offer raggy clothes for sale (because, lets face it, NOONE wants to wear your threadbare old T-shirt covered in paint splatters or those clapped out old pyjama pants with no elastic left in the waist - even the destitute still have some pride). What I've learnt is that some of these sort of donations will get sold to industry as rags, some will get thrown out.
3. They are out of fashion and 'nanna-ish'
Well, I have to concede this point, a lot of the clothes in secondhand shops are not exactly at the cutting edge of fashion. Whether or not you want to wear 'the latest' is, I guess, up to you (and this is an issue I've touched on in previous entries). Some people actually like to wear 'vintage' clothing - and this has become fashionable in and of itself. It also has to be said that if you sort through the nasty polyester skirts and 100% acrylic cardigans in the average secondhand clothing shop you are also likely to find a fair representation of clothes that are no more than one or two seasons old - probably thanks to the uber-fashionable who will not rewear styles beyond this point. You'll even find a fair amount of clothing with the original tags still in place.
4. They are stigmatised
When I was in highschool I had a good friend who was a big fan of op-shopping. Her mother despaired. "We don't need to dress like paupers!" she said. It seemed that she considered the wearing of secondhand clothing when one didn't 'have to' to be an affront to one's pride or dignity. Well, as long as the clothing is clean and not falling apart I don't see the reason to be ashamed for wearing secondhand clothes, I really don't. Its all a matter of perspective. Without wanting to sermonise overmuch, when one considers the conditions under which a lot of new clothing is made and what the people who make it are actually paid for their labour, I think we all need to think twice about what is shameful....
This leads me on to my next list, in no particular order)...
Reasons to wear secondhand clothes:
1. You know that you are not supporting sweatshop labour.
2. It is recycling. (Cotton for one is considered by some to be the 'dirtiest' crop in the world due to the heavy use of synthetic insecticides and water. For more info check out the OTA link below).
3. When you buy from a charity shop, you are supporting that charity.
4. You will often find more interesting clothes that will no longer be available 'new'. For those of us not heavily invested in looking exactly like everyone else, this is a definate plus.
5. Op-shopping is fun. Its like a treasure hunt.
6. Its SO much less expensive than buying new clothes! I think this is particularly pertinent when it comes to buying secondhand baby clothes. Most of The Booba's secondhand clothing has cost me $1-$2 per piece (that which hasn't been generously hand-me-downed, that is). When you consider that new baby clothes seem to cost almost as much as new adult clothing, this is a significant saving. Then when you also take into account the fact that babies grow out of their clothes at a rate of knots, and that as long as its comfortable they really don't give two hoots what they're wearing - you have to ask yourself why would you NOT buy baby clothes secondhand? I guess for older kids it might be a bit more problematic - image is everything, right? For the record, though, I clearly remember being taken op-shopping a lot when I was growing up, and alot of my clothes were secondhand. It never once occurred to me that this should be something to be embarassed of, or that at times we may have been doing it out of financial necessity. Conversely, I remember being encouraged to see looking for secondhand treasures as something fun and exciting - so to me it was, and still is.
And my last list for the day...Mumarandom's Tips For Secondhand Clothes Shopping:
1. Charity shops in more affluent areas tend to have better clothes (and are less 'pickied-over'). However, for some reason, the ultimate creme de la creme of charity shops will always be those in country towns. Trust me, these are always well worth a look if you happen to be there.
2. Take the time to sort through the junk. Its usually worth it.
3. Go for charity shops rather than "Recycled Clothing Boutiques". Sure, the latter will have a higher concentration of trendy, nice clothes, but they will also be a lot more expensive, and you won't be supporting a charity. These are a good option, however, if you are time poor.
4. Don't be put off an otherwise desirable item of clothing by a missing button or loose seam. These can be easily fixed.
5. Beware stains. Chances are the previous owner has already tried to shift them.
6. Take cash. Most charity shops don't have EFTPOS or credit card facilities. Don't worry, you won't need much!
7. Its probably best to take the approach of regular checks in your favourite haunts to see if anything interesting has cropped up, rather than going on a hunt for a particular item that you need (that you most likely won't find).
And lastly, for all my newfound holier-than-thouness given secondhand things, there are still certain categories, despite my pledge, where even I draw the line - shoes, bathers, underwear, sleepwear. I've also never found a good pair of secondhand jeans (although my unusual proportions may have something to do with this...I have a hard enough time finding them new!). Guess I'm just going to have to make do with what I've got in these categories for the next little while!
By the way, I've noticed that from the times attached to my blog posts it looks like I am a super keen middle-of-the-night blogger. I'm not! These days, being a bit old and boring, I wouldn't dream of being anywhere other than in bed asleep at 3am - (if I'm not on duty leaning over The Booba's cot trying to shoosh him back to sleep that is!). Not sure where these random times are coming from - ??