And that reason is because holy shit! Have you seen the prices of children’s clothes these days? I thought that consumables like clothing were getting cheaper and cheaper (both in cost and quality), but a quick sprint through The Bay on the way to the dentist last week burst that theory all to fuck.
I had to pass through the little girl’s clothing on my way through the department store to reach the mall entrance. My little Ms. M was not with me, but since she is SO completely and totally crazy about pretty dresses I notice these things more often now. One tiny adorable little sun dress caught my eye. There was not more fabric involved than would enclose one of my thighs (ok, so it was for a chubby four-year-old, but still). So I paused for a minute to check the price. $50. FIFTY-Freaking-Dollars. For ONE dress for a four-year-old. And people are actually doing this? Really?
I can’t remember the last time I spent fifty dollars on a piece of clothing for myself, but I know that it’s likely been a decade or longer. Looking at that little dress, likely poorly constructed in another country by an underpaid workforce, and taking into account the costs of shipping it to Canada, I figured that it was, RETAIL, at a store NOT Wal-Mart, a $10 dress, all day long, it was good for $10. So, that being the case, how, in the name of Sheba, can anyone reasonable justify either charging or spending $50 on a dress for a child who will more than likely cover it with spaghetti sauce, peanut butter, washable (but really unwashable) markers, and if she’s clumsy like me, blood, within a matter of 15 minutes of pulling it over her head? $50 is over 40% of our weekly grocery budget. One stinking little fabric-lacking, stain-attracting dress for $50? Really?
So, while I have a daughter who loves beautiful dresses and clothes and shoes and purses and all of those traditionally feminine trappings, I am fortunate to have a few tools to facilitate her utmost desires while still being able to feed and clothe the rest of us.
1) Shop off-season – all of those beautiful dresses? Discounted 50% or greater in another month or so.
2) Shop the thrift shops – some of us have been doing it a lot longer than Macklemore and can always find new or nearly new currently styled clothing at 75 – 95% of their original retail price. The privilege of wearing something ‘first’ is never a wise financial investment nor worth the price. Think new car and instant depreciation. Let someone else pay the ‘immediate-gratification tax’ on the item and you will reap the benefits when they get bored with it and donate or sell it shortly there after
3) Fix your shit. Now, this is easier for me to say because I happen to be married to a guy who is killer talented with a sewing machine and isn’t afraid to try to use it to make, repair or create just about anything. But I like to think that even if he was not the fearless talent that he is, that I would step up and just get it done the best way that I could.
Just because I refuse to completely buy into this ‘throw away’ or ‘over-inflated-sense-of-entitlement’ obsessed culture, does not mean that any one of my kids walk around looking like homeless waifs. They are clean, well-dressed and shod until ten minutes after they leave my house. Then all bets are off and yes, they may appear to be slightly feral and homeless. To me, that has all the markings of doing childhood right. I don’t need to spend hundreds, no, it would be thousands of dollars (four small kids, so multiple everything by four) every year on clothing for them to look presentable and feel loved, happy or successful. No, having clean, well-fitting clothing and not living in fear of tearing or wrecking a $50, $60, or $70 dollar dress or shirt is about where I want my kids to land.
In my younger years I would have never thought that one day I would feel this way or admit it out loud, because as much as I love sparkly and shiny things, and ridiculously expensive taste, I love my life not being trapped by consumerism and trekking through the mall spending money I don’t have, on shit we don’t need and have no room to house. I am finally at a place in my personal growth (!?!?) where I can see something, admire it, maybe even love it, without needing to own it.
Please don’t tell me that any of this means that I may be a grown up. Anything but that.