Hand Me Downs

When I was little, periodically magic would happen: a big box would arrive on our doorstep filled with clothes. Although they lived half a continent away, my aunt would send my cousin’s hand-me-downs to us. I loved it!

clothing lot

I would spend hours trying everything on while Ma would dutifully (and tactfully) remove all the clothes that I’d need to grow into: She presented those items as future rewards for getting bigger.

[Author’s note: I think part of why I loved these boxes of clothes so much was because I was the oldest, and therefore wearing clothes that were not bought or made for me was a rare (and fun!) occurrence.]

The excitement and surprise of these clothing bags never left me. Twice in my working career I had coworkers ask if I would like some items from their closet that they had finally accepted would never fit again. I happily said yes to each offer, and that little kid thrill was still there as I opened the bag. The joy of the new tumbled out of the bags as I emptied them into a pile. All those beautiful colors and textures were now all mine!

I always made a point of parsing out the debuts of the new clothes. That way it took a month or two for the donor to see all the pieces turn up in my wardrobe. They always had a smile on their face when they saw that their beloved items were getting a new life in a loving home.

Recently I was finally able to pay it forward. I was finally at a mental point were I was ready to go through all my dance practice wear, and everything that would not add to a potential Halloween costume (or as an 80s accessory!) got sent to a current student of Kurt‘s who is a friend of mine. I know what it is like to do a lot of training and not have tons of money. As much as you want to wear cute thing to the studio, finances can get in the way. It felt great to be able to add to her variety and know that at least part of me continues to be on the dance floor.

Did you have a love or hate relationship with hand me downs growing up? or When was the last time you paid it forward?

4 thoughts on “Hand Me Downs”

  1. I love how you find things like this so much fun. It brings back memories for me. I too had quite a few hand me downs. It was always interesting what clothes I’d get. Since I had two older brothers I got whatever was left over. Some clothes would make it, but many items would end up in the trash. Even then, the ones I got I sometimes wouldn’t wear. They were just too out of date. It wasn’t just clothes too. I got a trumpet that was left over from my older brother and I continued to play it through middle school.


    1. When I’ve talked about hand me downs with my friends, it’s normally only the oldest children (like me) that have only positive memories about them. We all had older cousins or got the rare box from parents’ friends, so it was a rare occasion, not a common source of clothes.

      I didn’t know you played the trumpet. My dad traded in a snare drum he played as a boy to get me a flute which I played from 5th to 8th grade.


  2. We grew up on hand-me-downs! That bag was always exciting, whether it was from my oh-so-cool aunt who was just five years older, the friend of my mom’s who had every fashionable thing on the planet, or whomever. It was an exciting day! I think today there is a much different opinion of hand-me-downs for many people. I have been on the receiving end as an adult, but somehow it hasn’t been as great an experience – the things that came my way were very much the style of a much older woman and it just didn’t work. I always pass on my things, though, either to someone I think might need or want them or to a charity donation. We found some friends at church who have a daughter a bit younger than our daughter and we love passing to her…and they love getting them! The girls have very similar tastes and so it’s a perfect match.


    1. It sounds like we had a very similar experience with hand-me-downs growing up. I think it is wonderful that you are now able to pay it forward with your daughter’s clothes.

      I guess I have been really fortunate with my adult experiences. The women who shared with me had very classic tastes, which I share, so although the pieces were all about a decade old, they all played so well with my existing wardrobe.


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