I woke up at my mom’s place in Prague, having flown in for a weekend visit from London. She’d just moved to a glorious new apartment with panoramic city views and walk-in closets that made the little girl in me squirm with joy. The place was scattered with boxes and our mission for the weekend was to unpack enough of them to make the flat feel like home. Still in my PJs, I set out to locate my mom and my baby sister in the maze of cardboard skyscrapers. I found mom in her walk-in, pulling clothes out of suitcases, assessing them and either hanging them up in her brand new closet or chucking them over her shoulder into the box that was blocking my way through the door. “What’s this?” I asked, kicking the cardboard. “Just stuff I haven’t worn in eons and plan on giving away to charity,” said mom. I eyed the designer tailoring and dainty flowers printed on corduroy peeking out at me from the top of the discarded pile. “You’re kidding, right?” Mom glanced at me and shrugged. “Take whatever you want,” she said. That was all the encouragement I needed – I dove into the box head-first.
Thrifting clothing is one thing. But thrifting clothing with memories is something else altogether. Here’s the dress suit mom wore to her PhD graduation. I was only little, but I still remember how the huge bouquets of celebratory roses we gave her brushed against it. There’s the floaty dress she would wear on hot weekend outings when we lived in Singapore. That’s the belted blazer she’d be zipping up whilst pacing the kitchen in her stilettos, shouting at someone down the phone before heading to work whilst I admired her prowess over my bowl of cereal. Some pieces I only recognised from photographs. Every piece was a treasure.
I try them on, one by one. Mom pops up every few minutes, telling me where she wore this piece, or how she’d had that piece made. “I can’t believe you fit into that,” she says. We’re both petite, but even 20-something year old mom was a different shape to me. Most of her clothes don’t fit me perfectly – the shoulders are too wide, the legs are too slim. But I find a handful of gems that I know I will wear to death. Including this stunning corduroy jacket with teeny flowers that buttons up to give you the most perfect hourglass shape. It comes with a matching skirt. Too sentimental to let the rest of the clothes go, I call my friend to come and sort through the bits that don’t fit me. We both go home happy.
Getting new clothes can be hard when you’ve committed yourself to an eco-friendly wardrobe. It requires a bit of thought and a bit of time – which is the point of it, really, but a pain sometimes. Especially when the change of the seasons passes you by and you find yourself wearing a turtleneck in 30 degree weather wondering what you missed. Second-hand clothing is the most eco-friendly of all, but arguably the hardest to shop. Some people revel in it, but I don’t love not knowing where it’s been. So mom’s closet came to my rescue (and I to its rescue!) – and it brought with it my entire childhood of fond memories.