Relearning the Lesson of Secondhand Clothing

By , November 9, 2012

Each of us has our own best learning style, through which we acquire skills and knowledge. Some learn well through reading, others through observation, or by teaching. Mine seems to be through repeated experience.

For instance, you’d think that by now I would know that when I need good, quality clothing, the first place I look should is a thrift store.

favorite jacket

“Now we’re the best of friends!” A boy and his favorite jacket.

Last summer, I lost my favorite polyester fleece jacket. I eventually got it back, but its time in salt water damaged the zippers and other metal fittings to the point where it had to be demoted from “best” jacket to “work” jacket.

Before it returned to me, when I assumed it was lost forever, I had an opportunity to go to Juneau. While there, I shopped for a replacement for it. I eventually settled on a nice-enough jacket for about $25 at a chain store. That became my “town” jacket, the one to be worn or carried along to change into when I went out in public.

A month or two later, I found myself in town with the wrong kind of jacket. I’d hiked out with a rain shell, but the rain had passed, and the day turned unseasonably cool. I shivered through my errands in town, wishing I’d brought my town jacket along to keep me warm.

Michelle and I met for lunch that day, and decided to spend her lunch hour in one of our favorite in-town activities, visiting our friend, Ralph’s secondhand store. While browsing, I found a used fleece jacket in my preferred color. It was a size smaller than I usually wear, but the manufacturer is one that I and many of our fellow Alaskans trust with their lives, so I slipped it on. Sized generously for layering over other clothing, it fit me perfectly. And, at $3.00, it was a bargain. I decided to invest that small amount in the jacket, if only to be comfortable through the rest of the day’s work.

Well. Not only did the jacket see me through the day, it quickly proved to be one of the best items of clothing I currently own. In our recent cold snap, I could barely bring myself to remove it before going to bed! It wraps around me like a loved one’s hug, not only warming me physically, but spiritually as well.

I’m getting a bit flowery, I know, but I really, really like this jacket! It’s used condition makes the other jacket, bought new, neater in appearance, but they’re close enough, and I like the used one so much more, that I don’t really care.

I will get years of use from the new jacket, and it will, I’m sure become one that I depend on and love. But for the moment, the “cheap” “cast-off” jacket is the one I grab most often.

Lesson learned? I hope so.

6 Responses to “Relearning the Lesson of Secondhand Clothing”

  1. Jane DeHoog says:

    I also love consignment shopping. Nothing is more satisfying than bringing home clothes for my great granddaughters such as, for the price of a kids pair of jeans from Target, I have two pair of jeans and three great tops! It’s a win situation!!

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Jane, you’re right–consignment shops are great. Ralph’s store, where I got this jacket, handles consignments as part of the inventory. I especially like the ones that have graduated pricing–where the price of the item goes down after a set period of time. Those are great for procrastinators like me!

  3. Jim says:

    quite a stoic picture.. Very nice.

  4. Mark Zeiger says:

    I think that’s my “rugged individualist” pose . . . .

  5. Mary Jo Gibbs says:

    Thrift and consignment stores have been a part of my life since I was a child.Seems strange they are”socially acceptable” these days! People always ask where I buy my “expensive” clothes. I proudly tell them about my frugal bargains!

  6. Mark Zeiger says:

    Mary Jo, hopefully our society is finally learning lessons it should have learned years ago. Secondhand shopping, home gardening, reduce/reuse/recycle, wise use of resources–it’s slowly sinking in.

    I only fear that the next period of prosperity will make all of this passe, and that people will move on to new “fads.” I hope not.

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