Monday, December 3, 2012

Second Hand Rose

"Stuff in our apartment came from father's store
Even things I'm wearing someone wore before
It's no wonder that I feel abused
I never get a thing that ain't been used"
lyrics from "Second Hand Rose" by Grant Clarke and James Hanley*

When I got a friend to take the photo of me in the outfit above, it was to show off my birthday jacket, but upon closer inspection, I realized that everything I'm wearing (except for the t-shirt under the jacket and my underwear) was purchased second hand, even my glasses frames.

For Fanny Brice, and for most people growing up in decades previous to the 1970's, wearing hand-me-downs was a sign of poverty and lower social class.   Given that people used to wear their clothes until they fell apart, or outgrew them, there probably wasn't much that was handed down in pristine condition.  I supposed that in some people's minds, anything that is "used" will always have a negative connotation, but for me, and for most of my friends, a trip to the nearest Value Village, Goodwill, or vintage store, is part of our regular routine.   I continue to buy basics like t-shirts and turtlenecks, and most of my shoes, from retail stores, but the majority of my jackets, coats, and dresses were owned by someone else before I got them.  Far from being ashamed of wearing my purchases, I am very appreciative of the well-made, and well-priced items I have collected over the years and I am always curious about the stories of the previous owners.

The raglan sleeved jacket from The Refinery vintage store in Toronto was a birthday present.
Fcuk jeans - Value Village, worn at work because I made a
donation to United Way (the sticker on my right leg)
Belt - Value Village
Horseshoe nail necklace - Goodwill
blue lace-up boots - Housing Works Thrift Store, NYC
vintage eyeglass frames - The Sentimentalist

* Funny Girl was one of my favourite films when I was a kid, and I own the movie, and the soundtrack, on vinyl, no less.


  1. Funny you mention Funny Girl. The movie art design of the girl upside down with roller skates is actually the first inspiration I had of a calligram design. It must have been permanently buried in my subconscious because I forgot about it until I saw the old movie poster one day recently again.
    I love everything Barbara Streisand does.
    My favorite old movie though is To Sir With Love. I own the VHS but I need to update that.

    What a cute jacket, and I love the way your jeans fit. Very cute!

  2. I love love this outfit- it is wearable and funky and you all at once. Secondhand Rose- my grandma taught me the song as a kid, before I saw the Babs Streisand move and it makes me think of her- she also was a thrift/yard sale fanatic.

    Great b-day gift- glorious jacket!

  3. Love, love that jacket! And those boots!!

  4. Being dressed in hand-me-downs and jumble sale clothes as a kid, while a way of life for our family, was something I instinctively wanted to keep hidden from my more expensively dressed friends, and I really relished the chances, when they came, to have something NEW! However, once I got older, despite the fact it was still about being thrifty, I learned to love secondhand shopping all over again, and of course it is just a way of life now.
    So many different associations about the issue, given our different histories.
    I love your birthday jacket, you look so cool in your jeans and boots, Shelley! And the sticker adds a certain je ne sais quois! xxxxx

  5. We used to shop at a Value Village when I was a child. My Mom didn't want people to know, I, on the other hand , loved it. All that cool old junk, the best treasure hunt on the planet! Love the jacket, it has an interesting drape.

  6. I loved Funny Girl,Barbara Striesand is wonderful!
    I grew up with parent's who were young during the depression and lived during WWII (my Father fought in it) and was brought up with second hand shopping, and also my Father would make regular excursions to the dump (under cover of night,as it must have been illegal) and come home with treasures, so I've never thought much of it.Apart from a brief period in my early teens! I guess many do look down on it, but not anyone I know, that I can think of. I'm a tight bitch,so I love getting more bang for my buck!
    Your new jacket is damned funky,as are you today! tres punk chic!

  7. We were super poor when I was a kid and I lived in hand me down clothes (provided, often anonymously, by church people) and two beautiful handmade dresses made by my Mama every year. I never knew how poor we were until I got to high school. I still buy 95% from op shops - very happily! Only suckers pay full retail!

    You look fantastic in your gorgeous birthday jacket. Love your jeans and boots too. You are such a rockstar. Sarah xxx

  8. I'm loving your Birthday Jacket. Great colors on you and it's perfect with the blue lace-up boots that I remember admiring in NY.

    I started wearing vintage/recycled clothing in the 70's and have never looked back. I find it more interesting than retail and I'm fond of the prices. I too am curious about the previous owners and I've even found receipts in hat boxes that provide clues regarding dates, etc. Always the thrill of the hunt!

  9. I'm in NYC @ Christmas (1st time - excited) & really want to do some '2nd hand shops' aka vintage I guess. I'm a bigger size - not sure how to call it in US sizing... I'm (another) groovy old(er) chick - or is that chook? > least that's what I'm trying to emulate. Any suggestions of where to shop? PLEASE...
    We're staying Greenwich Village. Also going to Boston, Phili, Santa Barbara & Iowa... getting just a little excited > Kiwi Kate

  10. I come from a comfortably, well-off background but had no idea, all my clothes were second-hand, we didn't have central heating, a video recorder, heaps of toys or foreign holidays.
    New clothes don't interest me in the slightest, I had a two-month flirtation with them when I was a high earner but when I looked back of pictures of me on holiday realised I looked bland and dull so went back to my cheapo ways.
    Loving that cardi and adore Babs! xxx

  11. Ah--Funny Girl!! love it!!
    Wow, I must've been really poor growing up and didn't know it. I always wore hand-me-downs. I had BEAUTIFUL clothing!! My mom had a friend who was very very wealthy with daughters older than I. They got new wardrobes every season and gave us their hand-me-downs. How I wish I still had some of the exquisite embroidered and smocked dresses and the gorgeous wool coats. But alas, once I had worn the stuff, and my sister outgrew it, it was passed on to another family to enjoy. I brought loads of used for my daughter as a child. I still buy used for me!
    Your jacket is STUNNING!! I love the color combo!

  12. I have benn going to Goodwill for i do not know how long
    You find some many original items
    I don't like to blend at all
    Love to shop the cheap way - lots of fun too!
    Adore your outfit, so you Shelley


  13. Sweetie, Curtise is the one to get in touch with re the yellow skirt. That little list was as much as I know; I understand Melanie is pretty happy for it to be organic and casual! AND fun! I'm hoping to do my outfit over the weekend, in amongst loads of crazy business! Hurrah! XXX

  14. What a wonderful birthday jacket - love that blue! - and horseshoe nail necklace, awesome! I agree wholeheartedly about the merits of second-hand - particularly price, quality, and especially interest and mystery value!