I love hand-me-downs. With four children under 9, two boys and two girls, any assistance in dressing them is welcome. Growing up I never had a sister or any female cousins who lived nearby, so I don’t remember receiving hand-me-downs as a kid. Many people are averse to used clothing of any kind, perhaps being too proud, too germ-averse or too fashion-conscious to accept them. I have no such hesitations.
My children have four cousins, two older boys on my husband’s side and two older girls on my side. I am lucky enough to receive hand-me-downs from both sets of cousins. The clothes from my brother’s girls are fantastic, beautifully preserved and in fabulous shape, always stylish and like new. As a result, I can count on one hand the number of new clothes I have purchased for my two girls since their births. They almost always wear hand-me-downs and they look great in them. They are by far and away the best dressed people in the family.
The clothes from my husband’s sister, on the other hand, are different. Inevitably they are stretched out with holes in the knees and stains on them that cannot be removed. And it is not my sister-in-law’s fault. In fact, it has nothing to do with her. She has two boys. As a mother of boys, it is remarkable to me how hard boys are on their clothes. About a year after the boys were born, my mom purchased a sewing machine for the sole purpose of mending the boys’ clothes. Patches on pants are now a given. Seams re-sewn in shirts that were ripped are normal. Throwing out socks because they are riddled with holes is a weekly if not daily event. Stretched out shirts that need to be re-shrunk is nothing unusual. Nonetheless, I greatly appreciate those clothes as well. Patching and sewing is part of living with boys. Once patched and sewn, my boys will wear those hand-me-downs until they are ripped and stretched again to the point where they cannot be re-repaired.
In addition to hand-me-downs from family, I have been shopping at Once Upon a Child since my children were little and cannot say enough good things about that store. In addition, I have recently discovered Value Village, where I purchased a pair of black boots and a pair of white running shoes for my 18 month old for $5 and $3 respectively, and where my five year old found gorgeous North Face winter boots, moccasin style and hardly worn, that fit her perfectly for a price of $10. Talize in Mississauga is also worth the trip, being in the same plaza as a Value Village.
If you are prepared to drive to various houses around the GTA, Kijiji is perfect for finding beautiful Columbia boys winter jackets for a fraction the cost of new. I paid $20 for my son’s red, black and white Columbia coat that he loves, and $25 for my other son’s green and grey Columbia coat. Even though I had to fix the zipper on the green and grey one for another $15, I am still content with the value. And both boys are cozy and warm in their coats while looking great in them.
Toronto’s population guarantees that you always have a good variety and volume of clothing and shoes to choose from in one of the many used clothing stores in the city or online. With such great hand-me-downs and quality thrift clothing stores, it raises the question: why would you ever buy new?