Our Second Skin

Our clothes. We wear them for modesty because it is our cultural norm.  We wear them to keep us warm and dry or to protect us from the sun. We wear them because we like the color or how they make us feel.  We wear them for self expression.  We wear them to identify ourselves with others who are like us or to separate us from those different from us.  We wear them.  And over time they become an extension of who we are.

For some reason I can not explain, we have been lucky in the kid hand-me-down clothing department.  I call it clothing karma.  We have been given and continue to receive clothes for our boys.  The only things we have really had to purchase are underwear, socks, pajamas, rain boots, and the occasional swimsuit.  This does not mean I don’t buy them any clothes because sometimes one must buy a small yellow Run DMC shirt but I can not tell you how many hundreds of dollars we have saved due to clothing karma.

Run DMC shirt Collage

Over the weekend we received four large bags of boy clothes from a neighbor of ours who has an older boy.  I always get excited when I peek into a bag of hand-me-down clothing.  To me they are not just clothes for my kids to wear, but memories worn by another child to which my children will add their own memories.  I hold up a light blue button up shirt, slightly wrinkled but at one point pressed, and I wonder if a class picture or and Easter photo was taken in this shirt.  I hang it in the closet thinking how nice Carter will look in it at our annual Christmas party.

With the influx of these new clothes I set to the task of purging the closets, starting first with Carter’s.  I fold and refold shirts and pants he has long outgrown trying to find an excuse to put them back in the drawers.  I save what he calls his party shirt, a brightly striped polo style shirt, even though his bellybutton shows when he raises his arms when wearing it.  Party on, Carter!  I make piles of clothes and am flooded with images of the boys wearing each item.  They make me smile.  Next I move on to Cody’s dresser and am able to put several item directly in Carter’s dresser.  The others I put in large plastic containers under his bed carefully marked with size and season.

Then comes the hard part.  I handle the outgrown clothes one last time as I place them into brown paper bags.  The memories woven into the very fabric of these clothes, they can not go just anywhere.  I would like them to go to a nice family who will appreciate and understand the gift they are being given; these are not just bags of used clothes.  I call Cody’s occupational therapist and ask her if she knows of such a family and she does.  When she comes over I have three bags lined up and waiting for her.

I choke up when tell her that in one of these bags is the winter coat Cody first learned to pull a zipper on.  Zippers are not all created equal especially for a little boy with fine motor issues due to Cerebral Palsy.  It was a huge achievement when he mastered them.  When the zipper broke on this particular jacket I took it into a shop and paid way more than I paid for the coat (which I bought at a garage sale) for them to replace the zipper with a near identical one just so he could wear it longer.  I told her that Carter was near tears when he tried on his Cars jacket from last year and it was too small.  Carter and I had to talk about how it no longer fit him but that it could keep some other little boy warm and make him very happy.  With a sad little voice Carter told me it was ok to put it in the bag.

As I was helping Cody’s therapist load the bags into her car she told me the name of the boy who would be given these clothes.  She told me he had red hair.  She told me a little about his family.  For some reason knowing these things made it easier to pass along the garments of my children’s childhood.

Boys Coats Collage

About Shoes

I am an elementary school teacher, a former microbiologist, a mom to a herd of two boys, and a grilled cheese sandwich and beer connoisseur.
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24 Responses to Our Second Skin

  1. Jodi says:

    To this day I still prefer hand-me-downs over new. Let me see that someone is emptying their closets and I ask, “can I look thru the bag?”

    This was a beautiful post!

    • shoes says:

      I feel the same way about hand-me-downs, Jodi. I like the idea of passing along and receiving clothes. Plus, since they are used, you can see how well they wear and you don’t have to worry about them bleeding or shrinking in the wash. I have bags and bags of Cody and Carter’s baby clothes and blankets tucked away for the day that a very good friend of mine has kids. I hope that day is soon and that she has boys! 🙂

  2. Alex says:

    Second hand clothing are the best. We try to give away most of Charlie’s clothing but we do keep some sentimental pieces

    • shoes says:

      They really are. We received our first bags of hand-me-downs before Cody was even born. They were given to me from a coworker at the time who I barely knew but who had clothes and wanted to pass them on to someone. It was so exciting getting those first little baby clothes. I dumped them out in the living room and sat there sorting them and touching them forever. I am a sentimental smuck when it comes to my boys! I have saved a couple very special pieces of clothes for their baby boxes for them to have when they are grown men.

  3. Love this post! I recently cleaned out my youngest daughter’s closet to make room for new fall clothes. Some outfits had been worn by BOTH of my older daughters as well and I can remember each of them (when/where they wore those particular clothes.) In fact, my three girls look so much alike in their infant pictures, sometimes the only way I can tell them apart is by the clothes – I remember who wore what. Some would say they are just clothes, but like you said – they hold memories!

    • shoes says:

      Ha, that is great having to identify your kids in baby photos by their clothing. 🙂 Quite a few of the clothes I just passed on had been worn by both boys so it was double tough to let them go.

  4. Ashley says:

    Lucky you on the karma! I’m saving my son’s clothes for now just in cadres have a 2nd boy.

    • shoes says:

      Having all the boy clothes from Cody (and originally from friends and coworkers) was super handy when Carter came along. We did not plan it but both boys were even born in the same season so it worked out great for sibling hand-me-downs.

  5. Mary Ann says:

    Wonderful post that brought back a lot of memories! I saved some special outfits like the dresses and costumes that I made for the kids. It is difficult to hand things down, but nice to know you are paying it forward!

    • shoes says:

      It is a nice feeling to pass the clothes along. I saved some of the preemie outfits and a few super cute sweaters and shirts to keep forever. I am glad you liked the post and that it brought back good memories.

  6. Nancy says:

    Beautiful post. I have been lucky in the hand-me-down department as well. Now that my daughter is in school, she wears a uniform (my son will too in a couple more years). The money we have saved in the first four years of my daughter’s life has been amazing. And we’re now putting it toward school uniforms (haven’t been lucky enough to have much handed down to us in that department, just a couple skirts). But truly, I love going through bags of clothes and sorting through what my kids have outgrown and what will be passed on. I feel the same way as you. I want their outgrown clothes to go to a child who really needs it and whose family will appreciate it. This is a really great post. I really enjoyed it.

    • shoes says:

      I can’t even guess how much money we have saved due to our hand-me-down luck. Every now and then I look at new clothes and am shocked at the prices of somethings. I do shop the clearance at Target to pick up odds and ends for the following year. I bet school uniforms will save you loads of money over time as well. But it is more than just the money saved – there is something about giving and receiving kid clothes that make them that much more special. Glad you enjoyed the post!

  7. Stephanie says:

    Loved this post! My sister and I both have twin girls (hers are older) so we get a lot of hand me downs from her and it’s great. I save a couple of the girls’ outfits each year just for memory sake… they really do bring back so many sweet memories!

    • shoes says:

      That is wonderful! I bet you have sweet memories of your sister’s girls in the clothes you get from her even before your girls wear them.

      My mom saved many articles of my childhood clothes and make a quilt for me out of them. I love that quilt and remember most of the fabrics from the clothes. If I was a quilter I would do the same for my boys, but alas I have a hard time reattaching a button so I think quilting is a bit over my head!

  8. Pingback: They’re back! « Minkyweasel World

  9. katzideas says:

    I really enjoyed this and your other posts…sharing is so good

    • shoes says:

      I am glad you liked it! I am all about the sharing of the kid clothes, especially since when the kids outgrow them so fast and the clothes for the most part still look brand new.

  10. katzideas says:

    Reblogged this on katzideas and commented:
    I really like this person’s blog

  11. Pingback: Entering Into Clothing Hell Season « The Jenny Evolution

  12. I still participate in hand me downs with my sister and cousin! I’ve had some of my nicest clothes given to me from them all throughout my childhood, and I like that we keep on doing it now 🙂

    • shoes says:

      I love getting hand me downs for myself as well as for my kids although it is a shame I don’t get more for me. That is great that you have a wonderful chain of hand me down clothes going on with your sister and cousin. Nothing like gently used free clothes! 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  13. Pingback: Entering Into Clothing Hell Season | The Jenny Evolution

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