As you may recall, I made a pledge back in December to buy no new clothing for one year, with the exceptions of any necessary undergarments, socks, and shoes.  Some of you were looking forward to hearing all about my adventures in thrift shopping, and so you may wonder why I have gone silent on the topic.  Well, there haven’t really been that many adventures…

Faced with the overwhelming task of sorting through rack after rack of fuchsia paisley polyester blouses and rayon sweaters with the size tag cut out while Lilah fussed in the stroller, I did what any sane woman would do: I stopped buying clothing.  I did not want to buy new stuff with my body changing so regularly, yet I get overwhelmed even in the most coyly organized boutique, so the jumble of a thrift shop when I no longer know my size on a day-to-day basis was just too much to wrap my hormone-fuzzy brain around.

I did buy a beautiful brown dress for $35 in January because we had a wedding to attend.  Of course, I also had to purchase Spanx in order to make my post-partum body presentable in anything other than sweatpants, but I figure that an undergarment that sucks in and firms up is an investment well-made.  Not that it really mattered, since I wore Lilah in the Baby Bjorn through the entire reception.  What can I say; I know how to accessorize to accentuate the positive.

Since then, however, I have bought only a couple pairs of jeans that I thankfully no longer fit and a few t-shirts that are long enough to cover the spare tire I am ever-so-attractively sporting.  And I had to buy them in 7.3 seconds, because Lilah, unlike her eldest brother, takes after Mommy and hates to shop.

Well, this last week, I found myself with that rarest of all jewels – an afternoon to myself.  So, I hightailed it over to a thrift shop benefitting a Jewish charity, ready to get a few cute tops to cover the remaining seven pounds that I don’t have the energy to chase away.  It was a good shop with some nice things, crammed into the racks with absolutely no recognizable system, of course.  I selected several items and turned to go to the dressing room.

Whereupon I realized that there was no dressing room.  This is not uncommon among thrift stores, but it is always shocking to me.  These things have been worn and washed; are there really people who buy them on faith that “eh, it looks about right”?

Not to be deterred, I marched over to the mirror in the center of the room.  I managed to get a tank top on under my t-shirt, then removed the t-shirt to see how it fit.  I kept the tank on to try on all the other tops, but skirts were a bit more complicated.  I suspect there is a large family of Hasidic children that got more of an education than their mother would have liked that day.

At any rate, I left with three tops for twenty-three bucks, all of them with the tags still on.  And I learned a valuable lesson that I will pass along to you today: when shopping in thrift stores, wear spandex shorts and a tight fitting tank top.

You can thank me later – right now you have some eco-friendly shopping to do.

14 responses to “Used

  1. I recently stumbled on a yard sale (in a nice neighborhood – those are the best!) and found four polo-style shirts for the baby, decorative pillows for the couch, and two pairs of size 3 name-brand blue jeans (and one of them is bound to be in a 3 this winter) for under 20$.

    I love thrift shopping. My motives are financial most of the time, but we buy almost nothing new (books are the exception, because they don’t usually hold up very well).

  2. (Books for the kids, that is. My books I almost always buy used.)

  3. I was scarred as a child by being dressed either from the thrift store (and the bargain rack at that – I remember pleading desperately for a top from the $5 “style” section once) or in clothes my mother made. Which makes me sound an ungrateful little git (which I likely was) but honestly, I was already a year younger than kids in my class, wore glasses and hideous shoes, played the violin and was neither in the majority ethnicity (I was in a minority of 1% at one point) or the majority religion. So yes, the thrift store clothes didn’t really help a lot!

    I am trying to get over my thrift-store phobia as a) there’s a dead nice one in a local town that has fantastic designer stuff and b) I know it makes all the sense in the world. However, the lack of a dressing room just might put me off again!

    Good for you sticking to your pledge!

  4. I seriously love thrift shopping. Like you though, the tops with the size cut out is a bit much. Recently I signed on a to a clothing exchange list which is even more satisfying than thrift shopping. We mail each other clothes. It’s a good way to deal with any kind of consistent weight transition.


  5. I love thrift shopping — the challenge of a good find. But you are right, it is daunting with an infant. Try with 2. I haven’t been too successful. And even when I went sans kids, there was pressure to get done and get home.

    Soon, hubby’s schedule lifts, and while there is a ton to do … I’m promising myself one more trip to the shops to get that great find. Tell me where you went when you have time. I’ve heard about that place but don’t know exactly where it is.

  6. I stopped buying clothes. It’s shocking, actually, how little I get. The only thing I do buy are $5 t-shirts at Target to replace the old ones with stains that I can’t get out. Clearly, not a clothes horse.

  7. I love this idea. I haven’t bought many new clothes lately in the hope that I will soon be pregnant, but I did buy most of my maternity clothes from thrift stores when I was pregnant the first time. I couldn’t justify buying brand new stuff that I was only going to wear for 9 months!

  8. I’ve been buying second-hand clothes, too. I am still carrying some baby weight, and everything I own is regularly covered in bodily fluids. Plus I’m trying to be a friend to the earth. Thankfully we have a very large and well-organized second hand store nearby, because I’m not sure what I would do if I couldn’t try my finds on. For 50 cents at a garage sale for my kids I’m willing to risk it, but not so much for a shirt for myself.

  9. I just stopped buying clothes after last summer. So far I’m managing, though one kid, when I was watching mine swim last winter, asked me why I wear the same clothes all the time.

  10. Oh, yes, the thrift store attire: bike shorts and tank tops. I used to thrift a lot, and I’d totally forgotten about that part of it. I was always really uncomfortable under my regular clothes, because I was a college student and wore a lot of tight things. Things that barely had enough room for ME, let alone an additional layer of spandex.

    Yeah. Good times. 😉

  11. She Started It

    Ooh, great tips!

  12. Oh this would be really hard for me, good on you!

  13. I wouldn’t mind shopping in a thrift shop. What I would mind is browsing through unsorted racks. That’s the same reason I hate sales, no matter if winter or summer. I’m sure I would find some nice stuff but for me it’s an absolute nightmare.

  14. my favorite thrift store doesn’t have a fitting room either, but most items cost between 2 and 6 dollars, so I’m not out much if I get it home and it doesn’t fit, and I know it goes to a good cause. Even still, i try stuff on over clothes as much as I can!