For as long as I can remember, at least part of my wardrobe has consisted of second-hand clothes. I used to go shopping with my mother at various consignment shops when I was in grade school. Some of my most memorable outfits as a child came from these stores. At first, I was self-conscious about wearing clothes that other people had worn. I thought that somehow other kids at school would know that my clothes weren't expensive and make fun of me. However, it was my grandmother's pride in bargain-hunting, thrift store shopping and rummage sale purchasing that dissipated my notions of inferiority.
My grandmother was never bashful about her bargain buys. To her it was a joy and a triumph that must be shared with all. If someone complimented her on an outfit or a piece of jewelry, her response was never, "Thank you", it was, "I got this at 65% off at Carson's..." and ramble on about the sales person she talked to, what other purchases she made and how much she spent and saved all together. With Helen, it was always about the bottom line, her savings.
Her eagerness to share prices didn't stop at compliments, either. It spilled over into her gift giving as well. It didn't matter if she was giving you a birthday present, Christmas present, or a "just because" present, she would always leave the price tag on the gift. Then, upon opening the gift, there would be some recollection of where she bought it and how much she saved when she purchased it, oftentimes referencing the price tag that remained. Grandma relished a good find when sale shopping and bargain hunting and was never ashamed to admit it.
My grandmother was a frugal indulger. She wouldn't think twice about going to a rummage sale and buying an outfit for $1.00. It didn't matter if she had 10 pairs of jeans at home, if she was at a rummage sale or thrift store and found a pair that fit, she would take them home with her. Every time I saw her she wore something different. Her wardrobe seemed like a bottomless pit of clothes, none of which were ever purchased at full price.
I remember going to her house once upon a time and she had clothes hanging up on her shower curtain rod in her bathroom, just like they would be hanging up in a closet. At first I thought that maybe she had hung them there to dry. I came to find out she had run out of space in her closet and had nowhere to put them. Her shower rod was simply bonus storage space. And make no mistake, all of those clothes were second-hand or purchased at rock-bottom prices. They were all things she couldn't pass up because they were inexpensive.
I learned to take pride in my frugal spending. Maybe not sharing how much I spent with everyone who comments on my finds, but I never hesitate to share where I bought something. I believe in giving credit where credit is due. If someone likes something, sharing a bit of the history is part of the fun of the hunt. And, once in a while, when it's appropriate, I will share the wonderful bargain price or the amazing deal on whatever is complimented.
One of the reasons I enjoy shopping at Goodwill is to prove that looking fabulous doesn't have to cost a fortune. I also have no problem wearing inherited clothes from friends. My days of apprehension about wearing second-hand items are long gone.
My grandmother would have been so proud; looking this good for only $10.00.
In Loving Memory of Helen Elizabeth Robinson.