Mood of the day: hand-me-down

I have been obsessed with secondhand clothing since I was a little girl. It started as a necessity because my folks could not afford brand new clothes for 5 kids. It then became an addiction to the endless possibilities that already worn garment offers: shapes, periods, styles etc. I remember that as a child, every now and then, Lao women would come to our place with huge black trash liners full of clothes collected at clothing banks or from some other Lao households. They would empty the contents in our living room and mothers and their children would dive into the pile of clothing.  It was like the Gold Rush, so exciting. I remember that I would eye scan the stash for the best cotton, the most inventive color combination, the softest knit, or the most subtle silky shine etc., and make a bet in my head that it was going to be the most valuable item of the whole supply. Only then I would pull out the fabric all the way out to finally discover my prize. It was usually a well cut blouse, a sharp skirt or something from a ‘real’ brand. My BS (Big Sister) would sometimes ask me: ‘how did you know?’

Later, I pursued my hunting obsession in Paris flea markets such as Porte de Montreuil or les Puces de Clignancourt. Back then, it was so dirty that after a day of sorting out through the crap I needed to take a shower. I am serious. In London, my fave stores were charity shops and they were everywhere, very organized and with their own target clientele. Oxfam had the trendier selection, but Help the Aged the best prices.

In New York, it got a little more complicated: cash shortage forced a more dilettante approach to shopping and secondhand clothing market is so broad. I still consider myself a shopping debutante here lurking in charity shops  in Chelsea, ‘vintage’ boutiques in Soho, Hell’s Kitchen flea markets and Williamsburg’s thrift shops. What confuses me the most is how expensive and well maintained previously worn clothes can be over here! Even weirder, some still have the original tags.

Anyway I found a faux leather jacket with cool trimmings in Williamsburg’s Monk thrift store. This jacket is fast becoming my fave item for Fall. P tagged along for the day with her very own hand-me-down corduroy dress found on Thredup , an online consignment store for like-new clothing. Online, people!!!! Boy, things have changed since the days of shuffling around old stuff on my parents’ living room floor…

Me: Therapy by Lane Crawford faux leather, knit dress from Nümph (always loved the geometrical shapes), Skip Hop diaper bag

P: Denim jacket from Du Pareil au Meme, OshKosh dress, bag from Claire’s and shoes from my friend Cameron’s daughter

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4 comments

  1. B

    Looking good!

    My mother would never get us second hand stuff. She insisted on getting us new end-of or last-season clothes on discount. My whole life I tried to explain to her that I would be trendier in something from Vinnies or passed over by the neighbour. I mean, really, anything, anything at all except clothes that are just going out of fashion. My grandma understood and I used to live for my shopping expeditions with her to thrift shops all over town, but they happened very infrequently. On this I blame my poor fashion sense 😉

    • redlipstickmama

      That’s so cool that you had those special moments with your grandma! There were also some downsides to the whole secondhand business …I am still mortified by this school portrait of my big sis and I looking like Mary and Laura Ingalls at age 10. Still have nightmares of that day!

    • redlipstickmama

      Yep! I was lucky to get lots of clothes from relatives and friends – plus side of having kids a little later than everyone else and tiny, tiny half Asian kids 🙂 But we’ll soon use charity stores for sure!!!

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