Can wearing thrift store clothing be embarrassing?

United States
September 23, 2010 12:51pm CST
As part of frugal living, by choice or by force, many of us shop at thrift stores for our clothing. Some of us grew up wearing new-used clothing from thrift stores and hand-me-downs. Have you worn thrift store clothing, as a child and/or as an adult? Have you ever been embarrassed over the wearing of thrift store clothing or hand-me-down clothes? One embarrassing moment stands out from me in my childhood. It involved a dress I got at a church thrift shopping day. I found a lovely dress, took it home, hand-washed it, and felt I was as beautiful as all the better-off-than-me girls at school. I proudly walked into the classroom, only to hear a girl screech from across the room, "You're wearing my dress!" All the kids chimed in with her, tugging at my dress and making fun of me, for they all now knew I'd been to the church thrift store where this girls's parents had donated her old clothing. I was so embarrassed and in so much agony, no longer felt beautiful, back to feeling as ugly as ever. That day I learned not to shop for me at the store; I shopped for my younger sisters. And I tucked the dress away to give them a year later. I figured by then, nobody would remember from whence it came and nobody would be made to feel small in the pretty new-used dress. Has anything like this ever happened to you?
7 people like this
33 responses
@Catana (736)
• United States
23 Sep 10
My mother got a few handmedowns from relatives, but I don't think she'd even heard of such a thing as thrift stores. So, no embarrassments in my life. As an adult, I buy almost all my clothes in thrift stores. I used to make them myself, but lost the patience for it. I love finding great clothes bargains. Sometimes you can even find clothes with the tags still on, brand-new and unworn. Some of my favorite clothes have come from the local thrift store, and I'm always sad when something I'm comfortable in finally wears out to the point where it's ready to be thrown away.
1 person likes this
• United States
23 Sep 10
Glad you've had no such embarrassing moments, and yes, I, too, still go thrift shopping for most of my clothing.
@GardenGerty (90157)
• Marion, Kansas
23 Sep 10
When it came to wearing jeans, my daughter, for the longest time, preferred wearing thrift shop or yard sale jeans, as they were "broken in" and softer. Now she is such a skinny minnie she is really hard to fit and she buys a new pair every once in awhile. She just does not usually get new clothes at all.
1 person likes this
• United States
23 Sep 10
I understand your daughter and desiring the "broken in" softer feeling of jeans. If I do get a new pair of jeans I wash them a few times before wearing them. Seems I might as well just buy them used, ha!
@Canellita (12059)
• United States
28 Jan 11
I have a beautiful linen dress with embroidery that I bought for $2 at a thrift store. Of course such finds are rare, but if you know where to shop buying used clothes doesn't necessarily mean old or cheap. I have a story for you that's the opposite of yours. I was at school one day when a girl tried to pick a fight with me by hurling some insult long forgotten. It was a perfect opportunity for me to verbally smite her because at the moment she was wearing my dress. My grandmother had given it to hers with some other things and for a moment I hesitated about letting her know, but I said nothing. Later I told my grandmother and she was glad I hadn't said anything.
1 person likes this
• United States
28 Jan 11
BRAVO for you, Canellita, on withholding the smite! I'm sure you did your grandmother proud by showing your true colors and not returning insult with insult.
@Canellita (12059)
• United States
29 Jan 11
I suppose; she wasn't the type to let you know if she was proud of you. She could be quite negative, though I caught her on the phone bragging to a friend once.
1 person likes this
• United States
6 Feb 11
My grandfather was that way! I learned, too late in life I suppose, that he was proud of me and told others, rather than telling me. It was his way.
@writersedge (22579)
• United States
23 Sep 10
Yup, in college, they told me my hand-me-downs weren't professional. I told them they were all I had. I went home and told my Mother and she went out an bought me some professional clothing. She had to use a credit card and go into debt. I don't know which I felt worse about, not having professional clothes or having them by getting my parents into debt. Not very Christian or whatever religions she was supposed to be, now was she? I've seen clothes I've donated on other people. I smile. I'm happy to have helped them. Maybe times will be better for them and they will donate clothes that I will buy some time. I'm sure you were beautiful. People who give and not only the other hand knows but shoots their months off in class, they're the ones that should take heed. Maybe she was jealous. Maybe she looked awful in that dress and you truly did look beautiful. How could a flower person like you be anything but beautiful on the inside? Sounds like she wasn't beautiful on the inside. Ann Landers had a saying, "Havning class doesn't have to do with money, what level of society you're in, it has to do with how you treat others and how you carry yourself." You walked in that classroom with class. She shot her mouth off and showed how classless (low) she really was. Take care.
• United States
24 Sep 10
You know, every nice thing you said of me applies to you. Anyone who could feel bad for their parents going into debt for them (for good reason) has a compassionate spirit. I believe you are right, either she was jealous, or uncomfortable, and felt the need to make me feel same to cover up her own feelings. Hopefully she learned better as she got older. Ann Landers was one smart lady. Thank you!
@writersedge (22579)
• United States
24 Sep 10
Thank you for best response, I appreciate it. Maybe someone will read this post and think before they pick on others again.That would be nice.
1 person likes this
• United States
24 Sep 10
You're ever so welcome! And I wholeheartedly agree and do hope so. It truly was the purpose of my sharing. I posted a more detailed version of this on another site, Gather.com, which if you're a member of I'd like to hook up with you there, and if not, I think you would rather enJOY the experience and diversity of the membership offerings there.
@peavey (15865)
• United States
23 Sep 10
I don't remember Mom shopping at thrift stores when I was a kid, but I do remember being embarrassed because I had to wear jeans with patches on them. A friend passed clothes along to me and I wore them to school... she must not have said anything. I shop at thrift stores all the time now and did when my kids were young. It's different from garage sales or church sales because there's little chance the clothing was donated even in the same town.
1 person likes this
• United States
23 Sep 10
Oh yes, my brothers had the patched jeans embarrassing moments. Not I, wasn't allowed to wear anything but skirts and dresses in school until my sophomore year, and I dropped out that year; instead, got my GED and went on to community college.
@peavey (15865)
• United States
23 Sep 10
I went to a snall country school and everyone wore jeans!
1 person likes this
• United States
23 Sep 10
Lucky you! I would have loved it!
@SomeCowgirl (32273)
• United States
19 Jul 11
I had almost always worn hand me downs or cheaper clothes. It didn't really effect me until I was in High School and wearing a shirt that my grandmother had given me, It was one of those tank tops but with thicker sleeves so that it covered most of the shoulder. I think I wore it because I wanted to wear something more sleeveless, though it may have been another reason, I'm not sure. In any case, the thing was a bit big on me and so made me look, you guessed it, PREGNANT. I heard whispers about me being pregnant blah blah and that made me feel bad. I love shopping and thrift stores though and see no problem with it, there are some more "classier" thrift stores now, but goodwill is my best friend.
1 person likes this
• United States
31 Aug 11
Oh, my, yes, I can see why you felt bad in that situation. And I imagine you didn't wear that tank top much after that day. I love thrift stores now, too! I've learned that the Goodwills and other thrift shops in the "better" parts of town have better stuff for sale, too!
@erikmama (12934)
• United States
26 Jun 11
Sorry that this happened to you. I know that it had to be embarrassing. But maybe you could have replied that you got it somewhere else? I have never been embarrassed like this that I can recall. Right now I love to shop at thrift stores but would definitly not want it to be an announcement made to the world! lol! I think there are great deals at thrift stores, and since I live in such a big city I dont think this will ahppen!
1 person likes this
• United States
31 Aug 11
Thank you, erikmama. I guess I wore my feelings that day, too, and it was just awful. Yep, I shop thrift stores by choice, now, and it doesn't bother me at all, but when I was a kid, it did bother me some.
@cream97 (29175)
• United States
13 May 11
Hi. abitosunshine. This is very hurtful, I must say! I would have worn that dress with pride. How does she really know that this is her exact same dress? You could have bought this yourself out of the store. She has to remember that the manufacturer does make duplicates too. I wear clothes from the thrift store. When I was younger, my grandmother went to the yard sale and she bought us so many clothing. I also shop at the thrift store for a living now as an adult. I have found some very nice things for me, my kids and my husband. My husband has some shirts that he now wears that are from the thrift store. I can remember three of them now that he still wears. As a matter of fact, he had this one of the shirts on some time this week. I plan to go back this summer to see if I can find some more clothing for all of us. I have been given clothing that has came from the thrift stores. I enjoy buying and wearing them, it is no shame in my game. And it should not be in yours either.
1 person likes this
• United States
10 Jun 11
I do agree with you! And I wear my thrift store clothing proudly. This incident was a little girl in a little-minded neighborhood...
@dlpierce (476)
• United States
24 Mar 11
I'll never know why some people can be so mean. I thought it was the greatest thing when thrift shops and yard sales became popular. When I was in high school I made my own skirts and only bought new blouses, underwear, and shoes. In those days they wouldn't let the girls wear slacks. To this day I hate wearing a skirt or dress. I buy all kinds of used things now. Why buy new when used will do? It sure saves a lot of things going into them landfills.
1 person likes this
• United States
29 Apr 11
I agree, wholeheartedly! I had to chuckle over your hating to wear skirts and dresses and am now wondering if your reason is my reason, as I had the same issue!
• Philippines
27 Feb 11
I am not embarrassed wearing thrift store finds.in fact,my wardrobe is made up of thrift store finds.I have tops,skirts,dresses,and pants from thrift stores.it all depends on the mindset of the wearer.if that happens to me,I'll just smile at her and say,"I know!it looks better on me,doesn't it?"
1 person likes this
• United States
16 Mar 11
My attitude is pretty much the same and most of my clothes come from thrift or consignment shops. However, I do believe it is a different feeling to a young girl to be made fun of this way, understandable not mature in handling such things.
• Philippines
27 Feb 11
I am not embarrassed wearing thrift store finds.in fact,my wardrobe is made up of thrift store finds.I have tops,skirts,dresses,and pants from thrift stores.it all depends on the mindset of the wearer.if that happens to me,I'll just smile at her and say,"I know!it looks better on me,doesn't it?"
1 person likes this
• United States
10 Jun 11
Good answer! That attitude should stop the bullying for sure.
@mamacathie (3930)
• United States
30 Sep 10
Yes I used to get all my boys clothes from a friend. Then one day her son started making fun of the boys because they couldn't afford their own clothes and had to buy his. They were humiliated and I stopped buying them from her. She wanted to know why I didn't want them any more and I had to tell her. She was so upset that she made her son come and apologize to my boys. I don't think they will ever forget that experience. I do buy clothes there when I find something that I need but I hated it so bad for my boys.
1 person likes this
• United States
1 Oct 10
I am so sorry for your boys, and for you, mamacathie! As you have touched on another important part of this... as a mother, we feel like dirt when something like this happens to our children, we feel inadequate; I know my mother did. Bless you!
@bounce58 (17550)
• Canada
29 Sep 10
Although I would never consider my mom and dad well off, they never had to buy at thrift stores for our clothes. And being the eldest, I never had hand me downs either. Now that I am a little grown up, I don't see anything wrong with clothes from thrift store. Although I can't say I'm qualified to say this, for I haven't bought clothes in a while. Most of my clothes are more than 10 years old. That was a horrifying experience that you went through! I could understand pressures like that in schools. It's hard to keep up with the well-off students that you see everyday.
1 person likes this
• United States
1 Oct 10
Indeed there is a lot of peer pressure when with kids. But like you, it doesn't bother me now. And like you, my clothes are pretty much a decade old, too. Thank you.
@dorannmwin (36654)
• United States
25 Sep 10
I've personally never been embarrassed by wearing clothes that I've gotten for myself from yard sales or from consignment of some sort. I've also bought the vast majority of the clothes that my children wear from yard sales and consignment stores and there has never been an embarrassing moment for either of them either. In fact, I think that they are more proud of their consignment clothing than they would have been of their clothes otherwise because this way they are able to get more name brand items.
1 person likes this
• United States
1 Oct 10
I am happy to hear that you and your youngsters have had nothing but positive experiences.
@cutepenguin (6458)
• Canada
24 Sep 10
Wow, that girl was rude. I had lots of hand-me-downs as a child from my older cousins. It never bothered me. And some of my friends do most of their shopping in thrift stores to save money. It's a bit easier here because we live in a big city and a lot of people are really into the environment. Reusing things is a good thing. I did have a person I worked for give me a bunch of their child's outgrown clothes to give to my nephews. She was really worried about being rude to my sister. I thought it was funny because my family is so used to the idea. And they were good clothes, too. What's supposed to happen to them? You throw them out?
1 person likes this
• United States
24 Sep 10
Yes, in a large city the chance of my happening occurring is much slimmer, and yes, the recycling is a great issue now, thankfully so. I've done same when giving something to another, making sure they aren't offended. I guess this comes with experience.
24 Sep 10
I guess from your experience, that was a little embarrassing... But how can she be certain it was her dress anyway? :S I've never heard of the word "thrift store", but I assume it is a charity, second hand me down shop. I never liked the idea of wearing used clothes (partially because I've been influenced by my family). I once brought something from a 2nd hand store and my mother threw it away, never really gave me a valid reason why though. I've always been the one who save up and buy clothes from the high street brand stores, otherwise I'll just wear my old clothes. However I do wear clothes my friends don't want. But I don't see any problems with people wearing 2nd hand clothes, as long as it looks nice on you... I know a few people who buy them and it looks okay. You never know they've brought it from a charity store!
1 person likes this
• United States
24 Sep 10
Yes, it was a bit embarrassing, but I dealt with it. Obviously your mother had issues of some sort with used items, it's not unusual for people to feel this way. As for the dress in my case, it was a very unusual dress and it was from a church her mother had just donated her old clothing to, so it probably was her dress. The point though, is more our reactions to the experience.
• Canada
24 Sep 10
Yes wearing used clothes can be embarassing. for one your shirt you just bought cost you 1 dollar. 2 the logo is all wrinkly and the neck is all worn out, 3 its lost its colour and it looks like you pulled it out of the trash. of course its embarassing. how on earth did you write about 300 words in your description of this discussion? you need to pull a tarontino and just cut to the point instead of rambling on no offense. i know your trying to earn more cash but to drag on can buying used clothes be embarassing has no need for somethign this long!
1 person likes this
• United States
24 Sep 10
To each his own on reading and writing length, I think. I'm generally a wordy person and generally enJOY reading any length of interesting offering. Obviously you do not and that's quite OK. And just so you know, I never share anything about myself or in my writing, JUST to earn money. I am into relationship building first and foremost. If I get a few pennies along the way, so be it; if I don't, that's OK too; proof of this is that I write in four different blogs of my own, for zero payment. Thank you for your comments.
• United States
24 Sep 10
Nothing like that has ever happened to me and I am SO SORRY that something like that happened to you! Personally, I LOVE thrift store clothing. It's cheap and funky and ... did I mention cheap? Haha. And a lot of times you can find some really awesome items there. We have a Goodwill that I shop at there for clothes. I think flea markets are also cool ways to find clothes. Besides, who cares what you're wearing right? With confidence, you can turn anything into a stunner :)
• United States
24 Sep 10
Thank you for your compassionate spirit! And yes, personally, I now love shopping from thrift stores, as yes, you got it, it's CHEAP!
@sender621 (14956)
• United States
24 Sep 10
We should not be embarrassed by where our clothing comes from. We should only be embarrassed if what we wear is not flattering to us. Some great clothing can be found in thrift stores. Wearing clothing that was not expensive or new should not bring us discomfort.
• United States
24 Sep 10
Now that I've aged a bit I'm inclined to agree with you. However, I admit that sometimes even now there are moments where I'm embarrassed when I still cannot buy something brand new and get it used, especially if someone else were to make a negative comment about it.
@Sanitary (3969)
• Singapore
24 Sep 10
There's nothing to be embarassed about. Even though it's a fact we are wearing used dresses, we can always say it's ours. Can't we be buying the same dress when that's not the only piece available in the world. I've been wearing hand me down stuffs since a kid, mainly from my older cousins. As my aunt and all doesn't want those clothings to be wasted, they will pass it around while I'm the last to get it because my mom is the youngest of them all. However, there's a limit to the number of times being passed around. If it's too old, they will throw it away. If it happens to reach me, I will try my best not to wear it when they are around.
• United States
24 Sep 10
While I feel little embarrassment now over wearing used clothing, I certainly did as a child, as a teenager, especially when I was made fun of for being poor. And actually, I felt embarrassed for my younger siblings even moreso. It is the nature of children to embarrass easily when taunted; shoot, even as an adult if I'm made fun of I'll feel uncomfortable. But, that could just be me and my own insecurity. I'm glad you don't have this as an issue.
1 person likes this
• United Kingdom
24 Sep 10
I suppose it can be at times! When you buy secondhand clothing there's not guarantee that you will find the size you are looking for and the item of clothing may not be up to scratch in terms of wear and tear! I generally don't like purchasing secondhand clothes! I know that it can be expensive but I would rather save for something that I like. I have found an easy way to shop and that is, I buy my clothes from a catalogue company! By doing this the item is delivered to you immediately and you have the opportunity of paying for the item over so many weeks! This makes it that much easier to buy new clothes and not suffer for it financially. I have received clothing from friends and family in the past and I found this a little uncomfortable. I know that we are living through difficult times now but all the same, I don't think I could ever change my stance on this. Andrew
1 person likes this
• United States
24 Sep 10
Hi Andrew, and thank you for your openness about your feelings on wearing used clothing. I totally understand the sentiments you've shared and your solution. However, catalogue shopping doesn't work for me, as sizes are so different wherever you shop. And payments generally mean interest, so in the end it would cost even more.