Thursday, March 4, 2021

Let's Go Thrifting! (José, Eleanor & Liz)

Picture, if you will, a thrift store. Rows upon rows of vintage clothes or slightly out of date fashion. Stacks of obscure or off beat books and computer games. Retro furniture tucked neatly in the back, flanked with framed pictures and Butterick clothing patterns. Muzak piping through as you root through overstocks and donations, knowing each item has its own story. And as you wait in line and check which colored tags correspond to which discounts, why not read a few stories about going thrifting:

José Dominguez
Refleccion Vestido: A Dress Dissonance and a "Poor Man's Body"

After Maria’s death all her clothes packed in boxes ended as a present to our dear friend Dora who was, and still is, in tremendous economical distress. Among those garments there was one related to a petit family affair that I kept imprinted in my neurons.  
The mentioned dress was the one Maria used in Ponchos’ wedding back in 2009. In a previous trip of the couple to Juarez, Sasha asked us about the way we were going to dress for the celebration; Maria showed her a green dress that she believed was appropriate for the occasion and told her that I was going to use a black suit and the issue was settled. After Sasha returned to Philadelphia; days later Maria’s affluent friend gave her several very fine clothes. One of them fitted her body exactly as if it was made specifically for her. I told her that dress was better to be used at the wedding than the option previously pointed to Sasha; she agreed and I decided also to change for a light color since the formality will be in summer. At the wedding day we faced a disaster; the in laws were not so happy about our appearance; Maria’s color dress was very similar to Sasha’s mother dress; my suit was almost the same color as Myron’s. We noticed several not verbalized signs of discontent; providentially the day ended full of happy memories that diminished our wedding protocol transgression. the damage was done and satisfyingly it didn’t become a family tragedy.
Later, looking in the internet I found a rule that we violated: (speaking about groom’s parents) ” You should opt for a different color than the bridesmaid dresses and mother of the bride dress”. Years had passed after the wedding etiquette incident. Now, living in Poncho’s house I find myself in a new world of experiences oriented mostly by the here and now. Related to the way I dress I can say that I have learned to prioritize weather protection instead of good looking. The result was expending less in garments instead of making an investment on image pampering. In that venue almost all my clothes were Ponchos’, and successfully they are suited for the climate demands and to my body size. Joking with Poncho I told him that I have a poor man's body because everything suits me.
Fortunately, here, in the USA I have entered in a new world; now I have less money than ever but, at the same time, I have, as ever, a far diminished interest on money. That simplicity of life did not begin in Philadelphia. Just arriving to America in December 2012 Maria put me in touch with big stores of secondhand clothes. The Mexico I left behind, or, more properly, the Jose I left behind, was more embedded into class ideology, and I, as a beneficiary of the system, shared and cherished consciously or unconsciously some ideas that gave me advantage and comfort; one of those was about the use of pre-owned clothes; in some upper class mentality to buy not new clothes will be perceived as a decline in status since only poor people will do that. Here in US we found a culture more open and rationally oriented to recycle and to use resources properly; such way of thinking helped people, as me, that do not have enough money or do not want to spend it unwisely. As my brother Ramon said, I was born again, we ended spending much less money in clothes and at the same time did not accept social pressure to live a good life.
After three years of being legal residents we were invited to share our lives with Beatriz and Alex who happen to live in Houston. We moved to their apartment that was located in a large and fine building in League City, Texas. Just want to mention that the garbage service was very efficient and clean. Tenants had several large containers available were to put the waist. One morning I took my trash bag and went to the public container. My surprise was when I found a neat white long sleeve shirt hanging to the metal structure. It was covered with plastic and ready to be used. I interpreted that someone wanted to make me a present. I took the shirt and it fitted perfectly to my poor man's body…

Eleanor Kazdan
Thrifting With My Daughter

Before my daughter learned to drive and we lived in the suburbs, she would ask me every weekend “Can we go thrift store shopping?” And we would go to the rounds of the thrift stores, and I had no interest at first, in every buying anything from a thrift store. But while I was waiting for her a couple of times I was like, “Well let me just look around.” And I found some fashion. And it could be stuff that had never been worn before, new stuff.
Liz Abrams
Name Brands

I found that my children, they always wanted the name brands when they were younger to keep up with their other classmates and girlfriends. Until they got a job and I said I’m not gonna pay; at that time, $50 for sneaks was a lot of money. I said I’m not paying it. I said I’ll tell you what you can do, you can get your little jobs during the summer, save your money and then when school starts you can buy these expensive sneaks. And they said okay.
As soon as they accumulated their funds at the end of the summer I said “Let’s go and get the shoes.” “Oh no we don’t! We’re going to the thrift store; I’m not paying that kind of money.” As long as it was coming out of my pocket, it was okay. They got very economical when it came to their money and they learned about thrift stores, oh yes they did!

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And don't forget to maintain contact with the older buds in your life. If you can't be there in person, please call them, email them, or message them on social media. And if they're using teleconferencing or remote events for the first time, give them a call and help them set things up. Check in on them to see how well they're getting used to these programs. Buy them a computer or an internet package if they don't have one of their own. It's a human right, after all.

Curated by Caitlin Cieri