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Thrift in the Eyes of a Child

Discussion in 'The Observation Bar' started by Canadian, May 15, 2018.

  1. Canadian

    Canadian One of the Regulars

    Alberta, Canada

    I remember being a teenager, and I am certain I had certain experiences with clothing and fashions. When I was a kid, (under say, 9 or 10) it was extremely common for my clothing, which was generally purchased new to be passed on to others. Relatives, friends, etc.

    When i turned about 15-16, I decided I was going to start wearing a necktie as often as possible. I owned exactly two dress shirts, two pair slacks and one pair of good shoes, which really didn't fit. I had two neckties, one being comically undersized.

    I had considered it absolutely impossible that I, on such a limited income was going to buy anything other than brand new clothing. I didn't get into the vintage look until university. But as a little kid, it was accepted that people gave away and received clothing from others.

    At what point does a young man's (and I suppose a young woman's) fancy turn from practicality to vanity. I probably could have purchased used suits during my high school years, but I felt so self-conscious that I'd rather wear the rags I owned clear, than buy a great looking suit that had seen service and use.

    My first suit cost 100 dollars at a local retailer. My Dad walked into Tip Top Tailors and said, "My son needs a suit, get me a really cheap one". I have never spent more than six hundred dollars on a suit. Most of my closet is (as it was when I was a little fellow) used, hand me downs from people who either gained or lost weight and had items they didn't want to throw away.

    What I often wonder is, when does the ego demand that we abandon thrift, then re-adopt it when reality strikes. Sadly, shirts do not cost three dollars, nor do woolen suits sell for a hundred anymore. So for somebody who, in my financial state, is paying their own way, will purchase older items. It therefore makes sense that a person reaches three stages: economic innocence, vanity and thrift. Innocence in that money isn't ever noticed, vanity in that you are focused over what you want to wear in leisure and academic wear and then, thrift.

    Does a child's innocence with used and hand me down clothing reappear at a later date in life? I love buying vintage look clothing, which is often second hand (or perhaps in many cases, owned by many hands) as many of us do.

    Perhaps our younger members could answer this better, but do you, find there is a point where you start caring about how much you spend on how you dress, both in an aggressive manner, and in a reaction to high prices?

    More importantly, how do you teach thrift to a fifteen year old boy who's just discovered dances, girls, whiskey, fast cars, and hanging out at the local bars that a used suit has as much merit as a new suit with a high price tag.

    I am very glad that I'm comfortable wearing old jackets and old ties. But I wonder, had I taught myself twenty years ago that it was alright to own clothing which, as we did when I was little, that wasn't brand new. That it was normal to wear stuff which (in the absolute naivety of a child who knows not money, class divides or pretense) wasn't in perfect shape.

    Where did you shift? Did you find during your teenage years to leave these principles, and to adopt the old ideas of thrift again?
  2. GHT

    GHT I'll Lock Up

    New Forest
    When they start earning enough to indulge themselves.

    If that means that some poor unfortunate soul, in a third world country, doesn't have to sit at a sewing machine for 16 hours a day, so that I can buy my clothes cheap, that has got to be a good thing.

    I'm not quite sure if by economic innocence you mean naivety. If so, after spending too much for something, most of us learn the lesson that it pays to shop around.

    You can't, it's a right of passage. Teenagers the world over love becoming adults, but the mistakes they make are as important as their decisions. That's as long as they learn from those mistakes.

    Growing up in the poor end of the street, I hated it and was determined to do something about it. Money didn't slip through my fingers too easily, but I still made all the teenage mistakes, with one exception, I have never got into gambling.
    Harris HTM and Zoukatron like this.
  3. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    I suspect the answer lies in "when do the Boys From Marketing take control of the child's thinking." The delusion that quality and value are tied to the price you pay and the newness of the item is not a natural inclination of the human mind, it's planted there by social pressure inspired by commerce, and the seeds are laid the first time the kid believes an advertisement.

    As for me, I rejected advertising and social pressure from childhood. I don't say that to brag, it's simply the truth. The first time I ever sent away for a box-top premium that was not what I was led to believe it was from the advertising I realized that it was all a racket, and I never let the Boys fool me again. When I was in junior high I read Vance Packard's various exposes of the marketing industry, realized there was an actual psychological basis to what the Boys were doing, and I was revulsed by that discovery.

    So it's not so much a matter of thrift for me as it is a matter of simple common sense. Buy and use only what you actually need and can afford, not what the Boys deceive you into thinking you want. Marketing is a lie. Advertising is a racket. Material aspirationalism is a snare. Fashion is a trap.
  4. scottyrocks

    scottyrocks I'll Lock Up

    Isle of Langerhan, NY
    I remember being almost instantly wary of the Sea Monkeys ads on the backs of comic books in the '60s. How could whatever it was they were gonna send me look like the drawings of cute little creatures?

    sea monkeys_56755_articleimage_original.jpeg

    Would be all smiley like that? Would the females wear lipstick? Would my family stand around the bowl like that with big smiles on our faces, and for how long? Could these critters really be trained? To do what? Would they make dinner? If I got enough of them, could they be dinner?

    Never the less, after that I was instantly suspicious of anything that looked the slightest bit off, and it has served me well all my life, as I was never the type to fall for advertising hype.

    Btw, here's what they actually were:

    sea monkeys_aHR0c.jpg

    I guess a few thousand could make a decent meal.
    vitanola likes this.
  5. TimeWarpWife

    TimeWarpWife One of the Regulars

    In My House
    Prior to age 13 I couldn't have cared less what I wore. But, in the 70s when I became interested in boys and magazines geared toward teenage girls (Young 'n Loving Teen was my favorite) was when thrift went out the window. From the ages of 13 to 18, it was common for my dad to comment how amazing it was I could go into any clothing store, even if my eyes were closed, and pick out the most expensive thing they had. :D I didn't move out of my parents' house until right before dh and I got married. Getting married and having to work and pay for things myself ended my days of buying the most expensive thing in the store. These days as I'm ever edging toward 60, if I don't stay in my night clothes all day is a major accomplishment. And most of the time I'd rather endure a root canal than go shopping for anything but food.
    Last edited: May 15, 2018
  6. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom Practically Family

    Vienna, Austria
    Haroomph! Spent my entire life being stingy. In my youth, I was the uncool guy who was more worried about substance than appearance. Thus being “boring”, I suffered accordingly.

    Now (also edging towards 60), I find myself unexpectedly well positioned. I have uncharacteristically become flamboyant in my wardrobe spending. And what do I spend it on? Trench coats and suits and pocket squares and fedoras. I’m as unwise in old age as I was in my youth. But, strangely enough, my position has flipped!
    Last edited: May 16, 2018
    TimeWarpWife likes this.
  7. 3fingers

    3fingers One Too Many

    Through a combination of circumstances both self inflicted and not we went through a period of years where money was tight. Over time we have recovered to the point of being not wealthy by any means, but comfortable and able to have or do, within reason, mostly whatever we want.
    However, having lived from one paycheck to the next and having no interest in repeating the experience, I find that many of the things I thought I wanted to do or have no longer appeal to me. The security of being able to replace an appliance or repair an automobile that has laid down without hardship is worth a great deal more to me than the latest gadget or a trip to Mongolia. Besides my wife finds many things that the grandchildren just must have. o_O
    vitanola and scottyrocks like this.
  8. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

    New York City
    Like you, I've lived paycheck to paycheck and with only a bit more for many years. Everyone responds differently, but that made me care less about buying stuff than about what my girlfriend and I call (and many others) put-your-head-down-on-the-pillow-at-night comfort - i.e., we'd rather have a cushion in the bank, so that we can sleep with less worry at night than have more things and be worried about this or that bill or potential emergency.

    We are fortunate and have some nice things, but by any measure, we live "well below our means" (which means, as best I can tell, we have less stuff than other people who have a similar income) so that we can sleep better at night by not worrying as much about money.

    To be clear, we also understand that many are in the paycheck-to-paycheck situation (that we have been in) or worse and are not judging - it's hard and everyone's situation is unique.
    vitanola and scottyrocks like this.
  9. 3fingers

    3fingers One Too Many

    I would say that sums it up for us as well.
    Absolutely. I always keep in mind that nothing is guaranteed and all can change in a heartbeat. BTDT. We have been extremely fortunate and I am thankful for it.
    I try to keep my expectations and gratitude in balance. When I am able to do that, my days go much better.
    Fading Fast likes this.

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