My partner and I joke a lot about how old most of my clothes are.
Being the youngest of the generation on my mother’s side, I frequently received secondhand clothing from my older cousins. Since I was one of the older ones on my father’s side, I continued the tradition by passing on clothes for my younger cousins.
Fashion comes back around every decade. What my mother wore when she was a young 20-year-old is relevant today- not to mention the rise of thrifting, vintage, and other circular economy innovations that has since blasted to the forefront of the climate crisis agenda.
Receiving secondhand clothing has largely shaped my understanding of need and quality as an adult. As a child, I would go through bags of clothes with my mother to assess it from fit to feel to material. From these criteria, we made the decision to keep it or pass it on, sometimes forfeiting one criteria for another.
On one hand, when I purchase new clothing, I am absolutely ecstatic for clothing that is crisp and fresh. On the other hand, when I receive or find worn clothes that I appreciate, I hold onto it dearly because it is a unique piece- there is absolutely no other reason as to why I picked it up in the first place. Many, even though I have had them for more than ten years, are still relevant to my style.
When the heels of my boots are worn down, I get the rubber replaced. When I find seams that have ripped, I get it sewn back up. When the elastic has loosened, I pull them out and loop them back in. When I can’t squeeze into a dress anymore, I resell or donate it.
These conscious choices, curated piece by piece, developed into my personal aesthetic. I remember where each piece came from- a narrative woven into its fabric- one that I often overshare with my partner out of nostalgic glee.