100 things, most of them clothes

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At the risk of sounding like someone who’d use the word "whippersnapper," I relate the following fact: When my mother was a child, she and her sisters each received two dresses to wear to school for the year. They kept their style fresh by wearing the dresses on alternate days.

Fast-forward to 2011, when my mother’s granddaughter, at age seven months, is the owner of dozens of clothing items. Without counting, I’d estimate that Elsie’s wardrobe includes about 15 shirts and eight pairs of pants, plus numerous socks, hats, sweaters, bibs, booties, snowsuits…and that’s only the current size. Entire other wardrobes await in the attic for when she gets bigger.

Still, I felt we needed a few more warm things to get us through the winter (she’d outgrown a batch of stuff and most of the bigger things we have are summery), so off we went yesterday to Sugar Snap. I love secondhand clothes shopping; at $3 and $2 per item, you can really kind of go nuts. (By the way, parents, I hear the Goodwill on Pantops is a goldmine for baby stuff.)

I’m glad there’s a way to outfit our daughter without buying new clothes–it’s great to reuse stuff and it’s certainly much cheaper–but it makes me ponder our society’s norms regarding variety in fashion. Must we really present ourselves as brand-new people each day of the week, complete with accessories? I think of the 100-Thing Challenge and realize that, even before her first year of life is complete, Elsie’s over the limit. Let’s not even think about how her dad and I would stack up.

Something tells me that in a greener world, we’ll have to get more modest about our public personas, maybe even letting others in on the fact that we have finite resources for clothing ourselves and our kids. Maybe we can all agree not to pressure each other to look new all the time, spending our clothes budgets on just a few really well-made things that will last, rather than dozens of sweatshop-made, none-too-durable items. What do you think, whippersnappers?

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