“Tons of Change Thursday”

Tweenie’s Greenies: Thursday Edition

High Fashion

I admit that our family is a little “clothes snotty”.   I have a strong affinity for brands like J. Crew and J. Jill.  Tomas’s side of the closet is filled with logos of oars and little horses.  Gret’s closet is becoming filled with the likes of Hanna Andersson (thanks to Good Idea Momma’s influence), Ralph Lauren, and Tommy Hilfiger.  The 2 boys seem to also enjoy Ralph’s company along with Nautica, Gap and Osh Kosh.  Not the easiest “wants” to fill when you are living on one person’s income and they happen to work in the environmental field. (People who work in the environmental field are seriously underpaid for what they do.  And I am not just saying that because I am directly impacted by this fact.)

Yes, like many of you, I have had to become a little creative with my spending since Tomas and I suddenly decided that I should stay home full time with the children.  This creativity and change of income eventually led me from the “Drop Off” door at the local Goodwill, to the “Enter Here to Shop” door in the front.  This is where I was able to balance my love of shopping for great deals with my love of name brand clothes.  By visiting my local second hand and consignment stores regularly, I have been able to get several namebrand outfits for under 10 buckeroos.  Yes, under $10!!  Whole outfits, I swear.  You would never know that my J. Crew “deconstructed” jeans and Ralph Lauren Merino wool sweater were not new purchases.  After all, if you are a “selective” shopper you can find new to almost new clothing at a fraction of retail prices at second hand stores.

What’s even better than saving the big green dollar, is saving the big green earth.  You are doing this as well, every time you “recycle” or purchase clothing or textiles at second hand storefronts.  Which makes me feel even more warm and fuzzy as I cuddle up in my sassy Gap holiday outfit that I bought off of ebay for $15 (yes, that does INCLUDE shipping).  “It is estimated that in 1 year, 7 million TONS of clothing and other textiles are thrown away.  Only 12% are reused or recycled.”  Doesn’t that seem so wasteful??  No wonder landfills are swelling and natural resources are regressing. 

It’s because of all those fashionistas out there.  I have a friend that literally buys a whole new wardrobe every season.  No lie.  She doesn’t want to be seen in the same clothes because “styles change”.  Think of how much waste that is from one person alone.  Now think of what a find that is for whoever is shopping at the second hand store.  You could pay $3 for a Banana Republic shirt and $4 for the matching pant that was only worn once to her work party!  Unbelievable!  I would be dancing in the racks if I found those.  Just like the day I got 2 pair of Ann Taylor pants, a Ralph Lauren button up shirt with tags still on it for Tomas,  and a brand new North Face shirt for a grand total of about $11.

So here’s my advice for how you can save the planet and your budget by shopping at second hand stores:

1.) You need to find out what day the new items are put out on the racks.  Usually it’s going to be a weekday morning or evening, when the store has less traffic.  Ask the store what time they stock, go browse at those times.  I literally followed the girl with the cart around the store one time to see what she was putting out.  She finally just stopped and let me dig through it before she continued.

2.) Visit regularly and don’t go with the intention of getting something really specific.  If you go to a second hand store looking to buy a red Ann Taylor sweater with pretty embroidered trim around the cuffs and collar, you will never find it and be disappointed.  If you go looking for a sweater to match your navy pants or a pair of jeans, you will have a better chance of finding a great deal.

3.)  Don’t go with your children!  Most of the time, the racks are a little mixed up and it’s going to take a little time to scan through the items.  On that note, if you are looking for a size 10 pant, don’t forget to look a little ways into the size 8’s and 12’s.  Someone always puts things back in the wrong section.

4.)  Always try on what you plan to purchase before you leave.  There is nothing more frustrating than thinking you got a great deal on a size large sweater, only to bring it home and find out that someone washed it so the sleeves are a size small.

5.)  If you don’t try it on at the store, keep the tags on and the receipt until you try it on at home.  If it doesn’t fit or you just don’t like it, bring it back and return it.  There’s no point in spending money on something you are never going to wear even if it is second hand.

6.) Be selective.  Do your research on what brands hold up over time and what the normal cost of an item is.  I would never buy an Old Navy Tshirt that shows signs of wear for $3 at the second hand store, when I could go down the road and get the same shirt new for $5 on sale at the store. 

7.)  Wash before you wear.  This is just my little habit because lice and cooties do not adhere to social boundaries.  They have minds of their own, tiny as they may be.

8.)  Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.  The only difference between some of the clothes at second hand stores and those at the mall is that they were hanging on different racks.  Many major retailers will send their clearance items straight to second hand stores anyway, so they are brand new to you for several dollars less.

Shop on, my friends!!  Shop on and save the world!

Oh, and if you are really worried about looking like you are living below the national average for a family of 5, just remember what my momma told me: “No one will ever think you don’t have money, as long as you are neat and clean.”