My freshman year in HS, I attended for just one year a small private girls' school. In the yearbook, I was voted "best dressed" and that was saying something for a place where a good number of girls wore full-length fur coats to school in the winter. I transfered to another school the following year, where at the end of my senior year, I was voted "preppiest" - a title I still strive to uphold. Unfortunately, in my current physical condition, I have trouble finding clothes, designer or discount, that fit, much less are fashionable. What is a clothes horse to do?
Be blessed with a little girl, of course! And better yet, one that couldn't care less about what she wears and lets you pick out all her clothes - I'm going to ride this wave as long as possible.
Today I sent my daughter out into the world wearing a Christian Lacroix dress. The French avant garde haute couture designer would be so proud (though I've always had a suspicion that he just lent his name to the children's line). Truth be told there is nothing avant garde about a denim jumper with a crest embroidered on it, but each time she wears it, it makes me feel happy. "That's the dumbest thing of ever heard" you might say. To which I would have to reply, "Don't you have something in your closet that makes you feels happy?" Granted, I'm the not the one wearing it, but until such a time that I can fit back into standard sizes, I'm living vicariously through my daughter.
Her wardrobe currently takes up two full closets, a dresser, and countless plastic bins... and if you are familiar with my "condition", you already know that they are all catagorized by size, season, and color and are all clean and pressed and ready-to-wear. [That condition of course is OCD/OCPD which I will no doubt discuss at length in many future posts because it is the driving force of my existence... think "Monk" meets "Flipping Out".]
Now, I'll let you in on a little secret. The aforementioned dress cost me $6.95 with shipping off ebay. A dress that easily would have cost me 30x that in a high end children's boutique, instead cost less than the Target brand. Maybe that's why I'm smiling.
When you have an addiction like mine (I'm fairly certain it can be classified an addiction at this point) and don't have the budget of an heiress, you have to be creative and keep your eyes open. Classic children's clothes cost more on average, as do my favorites - Ralph Lauren and Lilly Pulitzer. I've given it some thought and I'd say approximately 15% come from department stores (on sale at the end of the season and stored away for the following year), another 15% come from the designer outlets, 10% come from my family (she's the only grandchild/niece on my side of the family), and maybe 10% from lower priced stores like TJMaxx, Target, and Kohl's. But, a full 50% come from (drum roll please)...... the thrift store! My store of choice is Value Village/Unique Thrift (check out the website, there is bound to be one by you.)
It was word of mouth and the desire to purge our own closets that lead me first to Value Village. That, and the idea of reusing usable items - yet another of my causes; more posts later on my passion for the 3 R's: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. But shopping at the thrift store turned out to be so much more than finding snow-boots that will get used only once a season. It turned out being a mecca of fashion as I found rows and rows of Lauren, Lacoste, Pulitzer, and kids brands Hartstrings, Talbots, and Gymboree. I was practically salivating. Nothing had a price tag higher than $6.80 and on Mondays it's 25% off everything. I was filling my basket at a fevered pace. The joy of clothes shopping for pennies on the dollar AND all the money goes to charity! I've died and gone to heaven!
That first shopping trip I came home with close to 40 items for $60. That's right, we're talking about clothes in near perfect condition (you know how often your kids wear something before they grow out of it; it's practically new) for $1.50 a piece. My heart races just thinking about it.
It's now my weekly fix. I'm there on Monday mornings (or Thursdays for the same discount with a customer card) almost every week. And I never leave empty handed.
Now, it's only that I've told you my secret that you would ever know my daughter's clothes are second-hand. She always looks a Polo poster child. And even though I may be wearing the uniform of the overweight suburban housewife - t-shirt and yoga pants - I can claim a bit of pride in knowing that without dipping into her college account to fund my habit, my kid looks and feels great ... something to which I aspire to one day feel again.