young woman surrounded by clothing

The good old-fashioned tradition of hand-me-downs! It is the most frugal way to dress up your babies and children.

For generations, clothes have been passed on to younger siblings, cousins, friends, and neighbors as a way to save money and to outfit quickly growing children. My aunt had three boys, and when my younger brothers were born, a lot of her boys’ shirts and pants were passed along to them. Aunt Catherine always bought good quality clothing and the pieces wore well.

I think that is the key to this type of clothes sharing: durable clothes that will stand the test of time. But hand-me-down clothing isn’t just for kids. I inherited a lot of beautiful pieces from Mom’s friend Louise. She loved clothes and was very meticulous about caring for them. She would never think of coming home and throwing a jacket on the back of a chair — she would hang it up immediately when she took it off. After laundering, she folded items neatly and she spray-starched her good blouses to keep their crisp shape. Because even high quality clothing won’t last if you don’t care for it.

When Louise lost a lot of weight in her later years, she gave some of her clothes to me and they were all in beautiful condition. Louise was petite and favored a classic style, so her clothes were perfect for me. And talk about getting your money’s worth! Many years later, I still wear Louise’s hand-me-down blouses, jackets, and even shoes!

I try to take care of them in the way that she would, in memory of a classy lady who taught me the value of caring for clothing to make it last.  The initial investment in quality, and the care given to these items, insured that they lasted a long time. Who knows, maybe I’ll be able to pass them on to someone else someday. So, take that, fast fashion!

By Joanna Lacey

Joanna Lacey lives in New York and has collected thousands of ideas from the frugal habits of her mother and grandmother. You can find her on Facebook at Joanna the Green Maven.