When I was younger, meaning in my 20’s, I went through a phase when Eddie Bauer looks were my go-to fashion goal. It probably had something to do with the fact that I was in an on-and-off relationship with a guy who lived in Maine. After my first trip to visit, I suddenly wanted to look like I was born and bred eating Lobstah and Whoopie Pies. Of course, it was not until years later that I realized the real Mainer-look was more LL Bean, but hindsight is always 20/20, I suppose.
As it is for most 20-somethings, the problem was the price tag for Eddie Bauer, unless I happened to find a super-sale-final-clearance bargain. I took advantage of these deals when found but, admittedly, rarely ended up wearing them. I think it was more about being able to purchase it, in the mall, with everyone else.
Sad. And, looking back, kind of embarrassing; but that’s the truth.
What I wish I would have known back then, is that it was possible. It was possible to find clothes that I wanted and would wear on an everyday basis. It was also possible to acquire these items without breaking my budget. Seriously, it is not much fun to look cute in exchange for not paying a bill or being stressed because you now have $0.63 in your checking account, or, even worse, rapidly increasing credit card bills.
It was not until my late 30’s that I grew to appreciate thrifting and the beauty of “gently used items.” Oh, how I wish I would have known the joy of thrifting back then (that plus the fact that I was lactose intolerant—life would have been so much better!). I was living in Fairfax, Virginia during most of this Eddie Bauer phase and am sure I would have found some awesome thrift pieces. Life has no rewind button, though.
Fast forward to today, you will see me wearing a super thick, warm Eddie Bauer sweater in a classic charcoal grey color. It is one of my favorite thrift store finds of all times and one I wear as often as I can. Even better, I purchased it for only a few bucks. Ironically, I could now go to the mall and purchase an Eddie Bauer sweater (or its equivalent) new, straight off the rack and not feel terribly stressed about the price tag. The difference is that I no longer have the desire.
At this phase in my life, I wear this sweater proudly not so much because it is Eddie Bauer, but rather because I found a quality, name brand item for a price that leaves room in my budget for other household needs. I have kids. I have dreams and goals—other things in which I would rather invest.
While it took a few years, I am so pleased that my 18-year old daughter finally appreciates this concept as well. A morning shopping our favorite thrift store, or touring local garage sales, is one of the special things we do together, and we have a blast. Besides the time spent together, I am glad that she understands that having nice things is possible, even with a small budget. There is nothing wrong with wearing gently used items. Truthfully, if you think about it, once the tag is removed from a new item, everything becomes gently used.
The silver lining to all of this is also that purchasing gently used items are, for the most part, helping someone, or something. You are supporting local charities. If purchasing from a garage sale (another option), you are helping a local family. Recycling and reusing gently used clothing puts them back to use, as opposed to ending up in landfills. Finally, when you are ready to part with clothing, donate it to a local thrift store. What is one man’s trash, may be another man’s treasure.