Hand Me Down Happiness

Clothes maketh the woman annoyed. I just can’t muster the enthusiasm.

I like to think of myself as a cool and creative – like Steve Jobs ; him in his ubiquitous black jumper and jeans ensemble because his head was always full of more exciting and urgent thoughts than what to wear.

But in reality I’m just lazy. My head is full of nothing significant and I still don’t want to have to think about what to wear.

Shopping is not a pleasure. I only go to replace the things I’ve worn out.

Racks of clothing make me feel dizzy and irritated.

I could say it’s my liberal tears at the sweat shops which see children in slave conditions churning out garments for high streets where they carry a price tag approximately a gajillion times greater than the poor mites were paid.

But no.

I just don’t like looking at clothes, putting them on and off, paying for them…it’s all bad.

I have had various “uniforms” in different stages of my life – I carried the childhood dungaree habit well into my teens. I would buy them in bulk, both khaki and white.

The white ones I would dye (sometimes even tie-dye!) with mixed results.

When Dexys Midnight Runners burst into my life in 1982 I felt validated as though I was finally and unexpectedly  in vogue. Dungarees were in.

Next came the university years where I engaged in a strict “no trousers” policy for reasons lost to me now. I lived in vintage petticoats with clumpy boots and army surplus jerseys.

I had one special dress known as my “party dress” in coral silk which I wore every weekend for years until it literally shriveled up and died in someones washing machine.

I spent my 20’s struggling to find a look as I moved haphazardly between traveling overseas and working in TV, both of which can appear glamorous but in reality are anything but.

During one period in my life where I was a reporter for a regional TV station I routinely got it totally wrong.

The nature of daily news meant I never really knew where I would spend my day. And so it was I found myself doing a story from the snow line in sandals. And scrambling though farmland in a pencil skirt. And interviewing Imran Khan in a grubby tee shirt.

All these years later I still have a stark little wardrobe – now of just jeans and some floaty shirts.

Jeans are awesome. I can wipe my hands on them, walk the dog in them and kneel on bathroom floors taking Claudias shoes on and off in them. You can garden and cook and bath other people in them.

It won’t come as a surprise then that I’m a bit random when it comes to dressing Claudia.

She is often sent out into the world looking like a little Spice Girl explosion – a little baby, a little posh, a little sporty, bouncing gingery curls and altogether quite scary.

When she was very small it didn’t really matter.

You’d think given all the above I’d be a big fan of uniforms but school uniforms do my head in.

WHY in the name of all things unholy would anybody dress their children in items of clothing no sane adult would wear unless it was required?

People shouldn’t wear things that don’t actually exist as real items of actual clothing!

I’m looking at you kilts and long-sleeved polo shirts!

Long sleeved polo shirts? How are they a thing?

And forcing Claudia to schlepp around in a kilt was just cruel.

Like a giant horse blanket it weighed her down and routinely fell off her (velcro being easy for her to fiddle with and rip open)

Can you imagine trying to take someone to the toilet and having to wrestle a kilt to do so? The dry-cleaning bills were horrendous.

Now she’s a senior at school she wears mufti.

I resent paying a lot of money for clothes that will potentially be chewed, ripped and blipped on.

So I’ve taken to going to Op Shops looking for things for Claudia.

I stumbled across a second hand shop recently which was a sell on-behalf – it was more expensive than most shops I’ve ever seen. I found a handbag I liked. It was $175. Second hand!

The assistants rewarded my amazement with a tour of some of the other items for sale.

Including a brand new, tags attached, ordinary-looking ensemble hot out of the suitcase from Bloomingdales, New York.  $280. American.  A “mistake” purchase.

How does that happen?” I wondered aloud.

too much money” was the answer, “shopping as sport”

The closest I’ll ever get to shopping as sport is getting in and out of a shop as fast as I can.

Which is why its extraordinarily lucky that Claudia has some wonderful, slightly older, slightly bigger friends who pass on their sporty, trendy, cool, useful clothes.

Clothes a teenager is happy to be seen in ; clothes that don’t make her look like the ragamuffin waif her mother would send her out as.

Clothes from labels I’ve never heard of and shops I’ve never entered.

She knows she looks good in these items I would never have chosen.

She smiles at herself in the mirror and for the camera.

They are not always practical for a girl like Claudia but they suit her. She’s a teenager in them.

They fit her age if not always her stage.

She’s lucky ;  ~ I’m lucky  to have the gift of hand-me-downs that make her more typical.

It’s something her Mother could never do for her.

You give her the gift of peer invisibility. You know who you are. 

Thank you.


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