I’m going to be honest here; when I was growing up, I’m not sure I loved hand-me-downs as much as I do now. Sure, I got to wear my big brother’s old flares, and a cool t-shirt which the girl around the corner had outgrown. But such as things were, growing up in a single parent family in the 1980s, money was tight and sometimes I just yearned for something new, just for me.
Now I’m a parent myself and I am more than a bit partial to hand-me-downs for my kids. I absolutely love them.
Here’s why you should too:
1. Receiving hand-me-downs saves £££s
We have been so lucky to receive so many beautiful clothes, toys and books as hand-me-downs, from family members, friends and even friends of my mum. These generous gifts have saved us so much money, especially in the days when the children were small and growing out of clothes every few months. When the children wear something which has been handed down, it always sparks a memory of the person who gave it to us. I hope we’ve always been appreciative. If not, thank you, hand-me-down bequeathers.
2. Handing clothes down saves the planet
That babygro handed down by a friend, or the cords or coat you give to a neighbour for their child to use not only saves money, it saves the planet. Making fabrics, making clothes, exporting them, bringing them to your house in a plastic envelope all has an environmental cost, and leaves a carbon footprint. The handing of a garment from one person to another might cost a few quid postage but that piece of clothing gets to continue being worn, rather than being stuffed in a cupboard while you buy something new.
3. Hand-me-downs remove the ridiculous gender bullshit
I have a boy and a girl. I’ve loved buying unisex clothes that both of them can wear, keeping the hand-me-downs in the family. My boy has worn all the colours of the rainbow (thank you, Little Bird) and then my girl has gone on to wear them too. I stopped looking at clothes as being for boys and girls and broadened my horizons. Yes, boys can wear rainbow shorts and pink panda sweatshirts, and my daughter adores her London bus pyjamas. Hand-me-downs quite literally stamp out gender stereotypes.
4. Seeing another child wear your child’s clothes is absolutely heart-melting
I’ve tried to give as much as we get, to pay it forward. The generosity of others has helped us so much and I hope that we’ve helped others too. An unexpected pleasure is seeing clothes which were once worn by your little one, on another younger child. The memories! The emotions! It is such a joy.
5. One day, those hand-me-downs will teach your kids a lesson
As a kid, I might have yearned for something new, just for me. But the lesson I eventually learned was that those hand-me-downs I wore – sometimes happily, sometimes grudgingly – were individual acts of kindness and charity, and tiny beacons of equality and environmentalism. And that’s not a bad lesson to hand down to the children.