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“Shopping” for second-hand clothes…

About once a month, my friend C has a clothing exchange. About 6-12 women fill her living room with clothes and appetizers, not to mention camaraderie. Each person brings over garbage bags full of skirts, tops, coats, jeans and dresses they no longer wear: too small, too big, too pink… No matter the reason, I think most of us can use a good Closet Cleanse every now and then. (In my case, a storage cleanse – see my post from the other day, “Instead of Cyber Monday, Storage Sunday.”)

These clothing swaps provide a feeling akin to thrift-store shopping: finding a “new,” one-of-a-kind sweater or shirt – the only difference is, they’re free. And whatever is left, we donate to Global Kindness & OPCC (Ocean Park Community Center).

It’s funny how I used to not be excited about recycled, second-hand clothing when I was a child. When my mom was on the brink of her second divorce, she’d take me and my brother to the local church on Saturday mornings. Not for mass, but for their $1 Basement Bag Sale. There, we learned the art of stuffing as many clothes as possible into a brown grocery store bag. Instead of Carson Pirie Scott or JCPenney, our bags would read Jewel or Treasure Island. All for just one dollar! I remember how impressed I’d be. I also recall the way my brother and I would beg our mom for a second bag, trying to slip a G.I. Joe or Malibu Barbie into a pant leg when she wasn’t looking (even though those were “wants” not “needs” like the school clothes and we were supposed to only focus on “needs”).

I liked the shopping part but hesitated when it came time to the wearing part. I think when, at age nine, we are forced to don someone else’s OshKosh B’Gosh overalls or pink jean jacket, it’s different. I was always worried that the original owner would see me in their clothes at school and out me to the class, knowing my mom couldn’t afford to buy me ones from the mall like their moms did. However, this fear was short-lived as we soon left the suburbs and moved back to the city where no kids would know about our second-hand clothes. There, everything was new.

These days, over twenty years later, my second-hand clothes still feel new and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. Except with a friend at one of C’s clothing exchanges.

P.S. L.A. peeps: There is a clothing exchange coming up… if you want to attend, let me know & I’ll talk to the host! :) 

8 Responses to ““Shopping” for second-hand clothes…”

  • I hated getting hand-me-downs when I was little, because I was always smaller than everyone else. These days, I love getting clothes from my sister!

  • Courtney says:

    The funny thing about my clothing swaps is that I detest going to a second hand store and buying clothes of people who I do not know, but wearing clothing of friends.. even if THEY got the clothing from a second hand store is okay! Isn’t that weird?

    Global Kindness and OPCC give clothing away to people in need for FREE! I feel like we’ve already bought the clothing, nobody else should profit off of our donations, ya know? :)

    Can’t wait to see what’s in store for me out of your bag! I love your clothes!!

  • Dianna says:

    I love clothing exchanges. I’m going to one this Sunday. well, sort of. I have a prior commitment but I’ll be dropping some cloths off for the party and have someone looking out for a silver dress for me. Just in case. even though I won’t be at this one, I feel like I am since Ill be contributing. And hopefully someone has an awesome silver dress they don’t want.
    And I agree with you Courtney. When I was hard up for money I had to shop at a few donation type places and second hand and wasn’t always comfortable but when It’s a friends clothing I don’t feel wierd at all.

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