And I'm pretty vocal about my love of combing through second-hand stores on a quest for bargains.
Early on, I taught my children that these stores, the Salvation Army's and the Good Will's of the world, were actually "treasure stores", for I knew that we'd always find some little trinket for them to take home along with Mommy's "new" gray, perfectly pin-striped Ann Taylor pantsuit (that still fits like a dream).
If it ain't broke . . .
It's no secret that my first stop for clothing - for myself, and my children, is not Macy's, or even Target.
Nope, when in need you'll usually find me trekking out into the wilds of a second-hand shop to experience the thrill of the hunt. Friends know me to be quite successful on these excursions, for rarely do I fail to find my specific prey of the day. I have been created with an eye for tracking good loot. And it doesn't hurt that I actually enjoy sifting through the jungle of jeans, shoes, shirts, purses, children's clothing, toys - oh, forgive me, just imagining it all makes me drool.
And yet, I don't merely shop at these treasure troves for fun and sport.
I do so because:
1. My children simply do not need expensive clothing
Recently, our family had two weddings to attend. I realized a week before the first event that my son and daughter had no "wedding attire". You would think as the children of a Pastor they would at least have "Sunday clothes". Wrong. I've never emphasized that they be decked out in their Sunday finest. My daughter can't stand skirts and dresses, and my son simply doesn't need to wear any piece of clothing on which he'd wind up getting paint, glue, or glitter from some Sunday School project. Plus, to me, it has never really mattered what they wear to church as long as they aren't resembling one of The Others. They already have the "PK" (Preacher's Kid) label stamped on their foreheads, and now, you're expecting them to dress the "part" as well? No thanks. You've got the wrong church family.
So with the wedding fast approaching I made a trip out to SalVal on 50% off day where I found a pair of khakis and a polo for my son. Total? $3.00. No, wait, $2.00. Zane found $1.00 in the pocket.
My daughter chose hand-me-downs consisting of fancy black capri pants and shirt. Total? $0.
Now THAT'S what I call priceless.
Did either of them wear those items again?
Yep. At the second wedding. Last week.
Hey, if I can still pull off that suit purchased 5 years ago, they can wear an outfit twice.
2. My children destroy clothing
In our home, paint, markers, glitter (much to the annoyance of my husband), and experiments with food coloring happen often. As long as the kids aren't dying the dog's hair, lighting something on fire, or playing with knives, I'm all for experiments. They play outside quite a bit also - and my son has a affinity for sidewalk chalk, which somehow winds up covering every item of clothing he happens to be wearing.
Their clothes get trashed.
Ripped pants and stained shirts would be a horrible inconvenience, not to mention a strain on our checkbook, if it weren't for the fact that those items probably cost me $1.50 each or were handed down by gracious friends.
It's not that I don't want to buy them nice things, but let's be frank. Kids go through clothing so quickly. My children certainly don't walk the streets looking like members of Fagin's Gang, (I dare say you wouldn't even know their clothes are second-hand if I weren't such a big mouth), but they aren't decked out in the latest fashions either - unless you count the used Uggs on my daughter's feet. She doesn't seem to even care that her clothes are "gently used" - although I am well aware that this could change in the not so distant future. Until then, she can bask in the glory of several used Aeropostale shirts that I would never buy for her at retail.
3. My children lose clothing
Just today, my son's favorite "uni-bomber hoodie" went missing. Who knows where it is. I'm done looking for it. It was a freebie. I'll find another.
No, you can keep your fancy-shmancy clothes. We will continue to wade through the bags of clothes given to us by others, conquer the packed racks at my favorite second-hand haunts, and then, go and do likewise - paying forward our good fortune by passing our unneeded items to the next person.
Recycling sure is thrifty.
And my kids wear it well.
Joline Pinto Atkins is a former actress who now uses the web as her world-wide stage and can be founding writing at www.thecuppajo.blogspot.com, www.fithwithjo.com, and www.pittsburghmom.com as the Soccer Mommy Blogger. Joline is wife to one (phew - that's good to know) and mother of two amazing children, aged 9 and 5, who are both named after authors. Addicted to fitness, she sweats out any daily angst by running (not with sharp objects) and weightlifting, and longs for good books, vats of coffee, and an endless supply of buffalo wings - which she will not share with you. So, please, do not ask.