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A view of the "costume" closet

A view of the “costume” closet

I am a bit of a cheapskate. Frugal to be it more politely. A remnant of my upbringing I’m sure. Two parents, both raised in the depression (my mother recalls getting coal one Christmas. Coal!). We had a big family and one income to make do for 8 people. My mother was masterful at stretching the budget including her clothing budget. With 5 older cousins, we were often dressed in “hand-me downs.” Which of course I hated.

I learned to sew very early under my grandmother’s tutelage so I could make things myself, things I wanted to wear. I did a lot of clothing re-invention in high school, making skirts out drapes and upcycling dresses into new articles of clothing long before there was a term for it. As I grew older I even more fully embraced this re-use mentality.

an early example upcycling: dress into skirt

an early example of upcycling: dress into skirt

The lesson of being thrifty has stayed with me even though I can well afford most things now. But I’m proud to say most of my wardrobe is either a) “hand-me overs” from my sisters (or my daughter!) b) acquired from swaps or c) bought at thrift shops and the local Goodwill. Shoes, socks and underwear are really the only items I tend to buy new. And shoes are negotiable. And why not, the average American shopper throws clothes away at a crazy clip – according to the EPA and the NIH Americans throw away more than 68 pounds of clothing and textiles per person per year and recycle another 10 pounds of clothing. That’s enough to make my head hurt. *

Spending, or not spending, can become a personal exercise in mindfulness. Do I really need that? When/where will I wear it? Can I find it somewhere else? Like my closet? Does it further my personal vision? Is it well-made? Made in America? Or decide you want to explore the intersection of thrift and style. Not because you have to but because you want to.

Your list may well vary. You may have taken the thrifters pledge (http://www.thecitizenrosebud.com/p/blog-page.html). Or have a thing for (new) shoes so you leave them out of the equation.

Now, that said, I have a closet like a costume wardrobe. I love clothes. I love looking stylish. I find it hard to give things away — I have a dress from when I was 18. It definitely does NOT fit, is not fashionable and yet I can’t throw it away. I had hoped my daughter would like it but no. So it may be time for a new home.

I called this my "cowgirl in the sand dress." I'm sure that dates me!

I called this my “cowgirl in the sand dress.” I’m sure that dates me!

I’ve built my costume box over the years and as I said earlier through deft methods. And yes, hanging on to things past their prime as the prime always seems to return. The outfit I have on today includes a gifted hat, vintage 40’s jacket I bought years ago, thrifted pink suede skirt, hand me over shirt, and DIY earrings. A scarf, tights and boots bought new round out the outfit.

I’m going away this weekend and except for my dance gear, suitcase and shoes, everything has a similar pedigree.

Perhaps I am deluding myself but it’s a happy delusion. Style and thrift can co-exist.

 

 

*Interesting read on the subject Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion

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