Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Too Cool for School

The March sun reaches down to warm the earth as seedlings peek out and buds stretch from silent trees. The clothesline is full - ghostly shapes swaying in a gust of wind. The backyard bushes, heavy with berries, undulate as finches, sparrows and robins flutter in for lunch. I finally give up on my reminders to wear shoes outside as a battalion of mismatched sandals and sneakers gather in the hallway. The screen door is in a perpetual state of open and flies saunter in to peruse the produce.

It is spring!

Time to pack away the bulky sweaters that overcrowd our dresser drawers. Haul the unused ski clothes - we never made it to the snow this year and it's too late now - back into the attic. I find room for winter coats and rain boots in the back of the closet. Once the cold weather apparel has made its exit, however, it becomes quite apparent that the boys grew a whole bunch since last fall. Their ankles jut out of the pant legs and their shirts stretch tightly across their shoulders. The little guy can inherit his brother's clothes for the most part but, truth be told, my kids need some spring clothes.

So off to Target I go to drop a hundred bucks and then I'll swing by Nordie's and maybe the Gap to complete my kids' spring wardrobe. Gotcha! I don't need to hit the pricey stores for some hip new threads. I'll simply visit my two favorite thrift stores which overflow with like new stylish clothes for the boys and, yes, yours truly.

We avoid clothes with characters on them as well as those with the brand name emblazoned across the chest. We pass on stuff that is stained beyond recognition or covered with school names the kids don't go to. From what's left, we seek out designs either boy likes (Come on! I still get the little guy a couple train or fire truck shirts even though he gets big brother's striped era hand me downs.) and fill a shopping cart full of pants, shirts, shorts, swim trucks, shoes and, heck yeah!, three pairs of brand new socks.

At home, we wash the new duds and tuck them away in the appropriate drawers. As I fold the clothes, I have to laugh at the trendy boutique brands splashed across the tags - Muliberribush, Boden, Tumbelweed, Flapadoodles, Merrel, the Gap.

So what are when you purchase a new wardrobe for under $40 and zero carbon emissions? Too cool for school, my friends. Too cool . . .

7 comments:

Kate said...

My kid's current wardrobe is entirely handed down from my brother's kid. Unfortunately I don't think this will work indefinitely what with them not being that far apart in age and being different shapes. My sister in law buys way too many clothes and shoes, so everything I get is in really good condition, I just don't get to choose what I like. I ditch anything with camouflage motifs though. Babies in army gear turn my stomach.

Raw Food Diva said...

When my kid was a baby I shopped the thrift stores for all the handmade sweaters. She was the best dressed baby in town! When she grew out of the clothes I gifted them back to the thrift store so someone else could enjoy them.

Jennifer said...

Too cool!

:)

I love thrift stores... I made a pledge in January to buy only used clothes. Before that I had a rule of only clothing under $5 ($10 if it was REALLY neat), but that included clearance racks.... I decided to try only used, since I usually find better stuff there anyway!

That's awesome you found the whole wardrobe for $40!

Lydia said...

Sounds great! I also need to start some spring shopping for my boys, they are growing too fast. I need to hit our goodwill stores and see what I can dig up. It's like an adventure!

Anonymous said...

I've got three children, 2 are now young adults, 1 is a teen. I used the same thrift store strategy successfully until they hit their teenage years. Though independent thinkers, peer pressure is tough at that age (think back to your teens.) I handled it with a combination of strict budgeting and having them pay at least a good hunk of what they thought they "had to have." Fortunately, the gently used shopping stuck for 2 of the 3, my son finds it pretty tough going though, he's 6'8"!(He finds on-line discount shopping works best.) Love your blog by the way, been following for the past couple of months.
CLM

Green Bean said...

Kate: good for you! I've got the oldest kids in my extended family but my thrift store finds for my eldest get a lot of wear from brothers, nephews and such!

RFW: You rock! That's the greatest thing about thrift stores - the returns.

Jennifer: Isn't it amazing what you can find at a thrift store in our throw away society? Here I sit in expensive boutique jeans that I bought for $2. Great pledge. Why waste money on clothes!

Lydia: Thrift store shopping is so much fun! It is such an adventure - you never know what you'll find. Beats Old Navy any day!

CLM: Thank you! both for the compliment and for the advice. I love to hear from parents of older kids as to what worked and what didn't. Otherwise, I'm just winging it. :)

Kate said...

I meant to add the other day, that cheap clothes aren't always a good idea. In a thrift store (or op shop as we call them) it's fine, but really cheap new clothes have probably been made by a woman who's being really badly paid and working in dangerous conditions.

So just like with food, try to find stuff that's local, and ask questions about how it's produced. There are lots of craft markets around here, there are also lots of independent craftspeople on etsy.com.

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