Second Hand Stores: 10 Ways to Make Hand Me Downs More Acceptable

saturdays childLots of families are looking for more ways to save and earn money these days and one of the mainstays of saving money is the tradition of hand me down clothes (passing clothes from an older child to a younger childor clothes from other relatives, friends, and neighbors). The concept is so popular it has become a complete industry with second hand clothing and consignment shops popping up in strip malls and retail centers across the U.S.  The concept just flat out makes a ton of sense.  Why not take a look to see if you can pick up some great clothes that were only worn a few times for a fraction of the price of new clothes?  Whether you have some old clothes you or your family no longer need, or you are looking for some here are ten ways to make hand me downs more acceptable:

1. Make sure they are cleaned and pressed – Presentation is everything. Used clothing doesn’t necessarily need to look used, especially when it is kept in good shape. A good washing and ironing may be all a piece of clothing needs to look almost new.

2. Clean smelling clothes make a difference – Sometimes hand me downs are in tip-top shape, but they’ve been stored for a while and can smell musty or old. Sprucing up the clothing so everything smells nice and fresh can make a huge difference for the recipient  (fortunately there are tons of products that make this super easy nowadays).

3. Make necessary repairs before giving – Have you ever received something from someone who said, “All this needs is a new zipper,” or some other small repair? Some people may feel like they are being considered a charity case when they are given hand me downs that “just need a little fixing!” If you are handing something down, see that it is in good repair before offering it to the recipient.

4. It’s vintage! – Fortunately, vintage is in. This by itself makes some hand me downs more than acceptable, especially for the younger crowd. Young people are raiding attics and basements everywhere trying to find old clothes that are “vintage”. Now is the time to take advantage of this trend.

5. Stress sentimental value – Sometimes a hand me down will be acceptable and take on special meaning if it has some kind of sentimental value. If you know there is a possibility of this, then capitalize on it.

6. Make alterations – Occasionally an alteration or two is all that is needed to make the item a perfect fit. When a garment looks good and fits well, the fact that it is a hand me down won’t even figure into the equation.

7. Add embellishments – Every now and then, a garment could use a little sprucing up by adding a little lace or changing out the buttons. The right kind of embellishments can make something old seem new again.

8. High end items – When you have designer fashions to hand down, you will probably meet with little resistance, as long as the items are still in fashion and appropriate for their next owner.

9. One-of-a-kind items – Some unique items are especially treasured. Hand crafted items that are in good condition can make wonderful hand me downs when given to someone who appreciates the work that went into making the garment.

10. Altered clothing – Some very creative souls will take hand me downs and completely change them so that they become a brand new piece of clothing. There are several books and magazines out now that show how to make altered garments. Many of these projects turn out to be wearable works of art.

Hand me downs don’t have to be the pile of cast offs that many people think of when they hear that term. It doesn’t take much effort to make a good used item look appealing, or at the very least, acceptable. In fact, with a little creativity and imagination, some hand me down clothing can really add to your wardrobe.  So don’t just throw out those old clothes, prep them and then make a trip to your local second hand store.

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7 thoughts on “Second Hand Stores: 10 Ways to Make Hand Me Downs More Acceptable

  1. I feel like people have a stigma against hand me downs, but I have a lot of designer clothing I’ve collected over the years from working in a high end retail store that I just don’t wear anymore and I take all of them to consignment shops. These stores are definitely worth checking for high end pieces at lower prices!

    • I’ll be the first to admit that I definitely have kind of turned my nose up at secondhand stores, but reading your comment definitely makes me think twice about it. Maybe I will stop in one and browse around sometime.

  2. i actually primarily shop at consignment stores for my family. we’re on a budget, and you can find some great stuff there. as long as you make sure that the clothes don’t have holes/stains, i see no reason not to purchase second hand clothes.

  3. is the youngest of six i basically got the most used up clothing ever, wasn’t too bad since I always "personalized" them like you touch on here. one thing that is a huge turn off is the smell and "outdated feel" some clothes have.

  4. i looooove to make clothes unique and my own, and one of the best ways to do that is pick up pieces from a resale shop and then do exactly what this article suggests – add fun buttons, add some lace, add anything that makes the piece one of a kind and YOU. plus you never have to worry about people wearing the same thing as you because you customized it!

    • My daughter does this too. She’s so crafty and creative when it comes to stuff like that (definitely didn’t get that gene from me!) and her pieces always turn out so fun and quirky. She is always getting compliments on her clothes!

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