A Materialistic Post (But One in Which I Get Some Pretty Awesome Thrift Store Deals)

I generally don’t think of myself as a materialistic sort of person. Malls give me a headache. I don’t feel drawn to the latest fancy shmancy new technological gadgets (okay, except maybe cameras….).  I love handmade and recycled things. I want to live simply. And realistically, I know I’m called to a lifestyle that means being fairly poor – materially speaking – for the rest of my life. And I’m happy with that. Really.

But…..recently I’ve been kind of discouraged. About my clothes of all things. In fact, some days I’ve been downright grumpy about them. The thing is, I haven’t bought winter clothes for myself since….well, since I moved out of my parents house over four years ago. Everything I wear are clothes I’ve had since then (and were probably a hand-me-downs to begin with) or came from someone’s discard pile (don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the people who have given me clothes and I’ve received some nice things, but they aren’t necessarily what I would have picked out). And it’s been over a year since I bought jeans. And I’ve lost weight this past year so most of most of my clothes are too big. Or worn out. Or both. So I’ve been wearing old, worn out hand-me-downs that aren’t really my style and don’t even fit (whine, whine, whine….)

See? I told you I was grumpy about it. And then I’d feel guilty for feeling grumpy about it, because they’re just clothes….and appearances aren’t everything….and there are so many more important things to worry about….and I should be grateful for what I have, right? But dang it, sometimes I just want to feel pretty. Most days, though, I feel worn out, ill-fitting, and frumpy. Yes, frumpy. But with just my income right now and higher bills then ever, I couldn’t even justify going to the thrift store to buy new things because we just didn’t have money for extras (insert more whining). I tried to alter some of my old clothes to make them more wearable but my sewing skills are still pretty elementary and the finished products weren’t much better than the originals.

So when Derek’s mom sent us some money for Christmas, with the instructions “Buy something you wouldn’t normally get”, I began thinking wistfully of all the clothes I could buy with that. Which made me wince a bit, because clothes would be selfish. Buying myself clothes wouldn’t benefit the house, or even Derek (though hopefully he’d appreciate me looking nice), or anyone else. It would just be for myself. When Derek asked if I had any idea what we should spend our Christmas money on, I hesitated for a minute, then finally admitted, “Well, I know this probably doesn’t sound very fun and exciting, but…what I’ve really been wishing for is some new jeans and sweaters….because none of mine really fit anymore….and I’ve actually been feeling kind of grumpy about it for a while….so maybe we could use some of it for that?” There, it was out (materialistic clang and all). Derek smiled and said yeah, we could do that.

So today we went out for coffee together and then headed over to a thrift store in Johnson Country, recommended to us because it’s in a nicer area where more people donate to thrift stores and less people shop at them. We spent several hours browsing through the store, carefully perusing aisles and weighing options, and in the end came home with:

– 5 sweaters (two thick, warm ones that can be worn over lots of things, one light cardigan, and two thinner sweaters that are still warm enough that they can be worn alone – and happen to be brown and teal, two of my favorite colors)
– 2 pairs of jeans that fit
– 1 pair of nicer brown pants, which also fit (and can be worn to work)
– 1 pair of classy black leather boots (I’ve been looking for a pair of nice, low-heeled boots for a year and a half with no luck, so I was pretty excited about those. Now I can wear skirts again).
– 1 pair of nice tennis shoes for Derek (Nike ones at that)
– 1 pair of corduroy pants for Derek
– 3 t-shirts for Derek

All for under $40 (thanks to their holiday special, everything but the shoes were half-off). Which is still the most I’ve ever spent at a thrift store, but a good deal nonetheless considering everything we got.

So there you go. I went on a shopping spree today (albeit a thrift store one). But tomorrow when I wake up I get to put on clothes that fit and look nice. And materialistic though that may be, it makes me pretty happy at the moment.

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15 Comments

  1. You are so funny Rebecca. You know, I know our clothes don’t matter but I think there is something to be said for feeling good about yourself and taking joy in what is nice and good. (Not that there doesn’t need to be a balance)

    I hope you enjoy your new sweaters, boots, and pants. So happy you get a little boost in your closet :)

    Reply
    • Yeah, I think so, too :-). I sometimes struggle with the line between taking joy in what’s nice and good and envying what I don’t have (because while I don’t spend a lot of money on clothes, is that really admirable if I whine about it a lot? :-P) so it’s good to work towards that balance.

      And I am currently enjoying one of my new sweaters and new pairs of pants :-)

      Reply
  2. Denita

     /  December 28, 2010

    I’m sure that is EXACTLY what Derek’s mom would have wanted you to do with the money…buy something that you will enjoy. I love when I finally find something that I have been looking for and had been unable to find for a long time…its very satisfying.
    Miss you guys and glad it sounds like life is going pretty fantastic.

    Reply
    • Yup, it was exciting to find the boots for sure (I guess it helps to go to a nicer thrift store).

      And we miss you, too! It feels like forever since I’ve seen you. How’s life these days?

      Reply
  3. I’m so glad you were able to find some good clothes you deserve it! I wish I could find stuff at thrift stores but being a bigger guys it seems pretty hard theses days. Wow under 49 bucks thats awesome. Kristina and I love finding good deals on stuff.

    Reply
  4. Thankyou so much for your lovely comment on my jacket.
    Well now, but reading through this post here I just have to say something… whenever I read/hear people writing/saying things like “clothes don’t matter” and “appearances aren’t important” I just can’t agree. Are not clothes just as important as food for keeping body and soul together? In my opinion, clothing yourself is not a “luxury” as sometimes opined, but a necessity. Of course, appearances aren’t everything as you said, but nonetheless, taking care of your appearance and taking pride in yourself are still vitally important to your own self-esteem, as your happiness in your new wardrobe has demonstrated to you. If your self-esteem is in a good place, ipso facto you are a happier person, and your family and friends will be happier in your company as a result.
    So please don’t feel bad about getting some new things. I’m so glad you are happy, and I don’t think there is not an ounce of materialism in this post.

    Reply
    • I agree that clothes and appearance DO matter to a point. I think it’s more the obsessing over what I don’t have and the “I have to buy new clothes to feel good about myself” mindset that I’m less keen to find in myself. I think I do have a ways to go still in learning how to embrace outward beauty as a way to celebrate the inward beauty, joy, and goodness that I have in God, though. I’m making steps in that direction, but I still tend to view nice clothes as more of a luxury, so thank you for a reminder of their value.

      Reply
  5. I always need fresh inspiration for my clothes sometime in mid-winter! And I don’t usually solve my problem by buying stuff either – which doesn’t mean I think you should not have bought your lovely clothes. I think you did pretty good for $40. I just mean that I try to get creative and repurpose a few or try new combinations, or something. Sometimes I ask one of my friends to help me go through my closet. I rarely buy new clothes – almost all my clothes are castoffs, thrift store finds, or things I made. I’m planning to do a series on my blog soon about dressing well (and feeling pretty!) without being a rampant consumer.

    Reply
    • I’ll have to check out your blog series once you start it. That sounds interesting :-). I love a lot of the refashioned clothes I’ve seen and want to do more of that as well, but I still need something to start with

      Reply
  6. Have you ever looked at the blog newdressaday.com? It’s all about re purposing really cheep clothing (she did 365 outfits/pieces of clothing for 365 dollars over the course of a year). I think that has a good perspective- you can look nice without spending a fortune. Just like you- a lot of people (including myself) would have headed to Pennys, or Khols and bought maybe 2 things. You bought what sounds like needed clothes in a practical frugal manner.

    :) And thanks for being my first commenter, lol!

    Ginger

    Reply
    • Yes, I have! I followed it almost every day for a while. She’s so creative with what she does with some sometimes pretty horrendous looking dresses :-). I’ve tried refashioning some stuff, too, but mostly what I have is worn out and still didn’t work well. I think I may try to play around with some of my old stuff still and see what I can come up with.

      Reply
  7. i totally hear you. on all fronts.
    i’m happy for you. way to be thrifty and still invest a bit in your beauty.

    Reply
  8. Jamie Cline

     /  January 20, 2011

    Can you pose some pics of the new outfits! Love ya!

    Reply

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