It was Second Hand First

Image by David & Sarah, Shirt via ThredUP

Image by David & Sarah, Shirt via ThredUP

 It's late summer and our non-air conditioned home is sweltering. Herm had an evening work appointment and wouldn't be home for some time. For both his sake and mine, Carson and I headed to Victor for an evening shopping at the mall.

I already know what shopping with a toddler can be like, but I convince myself that this time it'll be completely different. Carson will be on his absolutely best behavior; he'll hold my hand as we stroll through stores; he'll listen when I ask him to wait for me as I try a few things on; the water fountains and Lego store will intrigue him, but when I gently remind him it's time to keep on going, he will oblige and follow close behind.

Oh the perfect picture I painted in my mind.

As we step into the entrance at Macy's, already things begin to sour -- a foreshadowing of what is to come.

Carson rushes ahead of me, darting around a clothing rack, suddenly out of sight. When I catch up to him he is standing near an eyeless mannequin, holding its now unattached hand. He was a bit too enthusiastic with his hand shake, or so it appeared.

We stroll by the Lego store, which happens to be near the fountain. I gently prod Carson on, and his eyes, like the fountains, begin a show of water-works.

I'm on a mission, doesn't he understand? I cannot be deterred.

You see, I was given a $100 gift card to my all-time favorite store, Madewell. This never happened before, and I want time to carefully make a decision. I want time to fit things on and slowly select colors. Legos, to my nearly two year old, are much more important than having a mom who cares about looking good and wearing nice clothes.

When we finally step foot into our destination store, I feel a bit of angst rise up within me. I push it down, convincing myself we will be okay. I select five things I want to take into the fitting room with me, all the while my Carson is unfolding the perfectly folded stack of vintage-fit tees, which had been arranged in color ordered on a low table, but no longer are.

A beautiful sales associate, wearing the latest releases from this wonderful store, her makeup and hair perfect, asked if I needed help with anything. Was my state of frustration this obvious or was she simply doing her job?

We some how managed to make it to the dressing rooms. Good thing too, because the store would have looked like a small tornado wandered through had it taken us any longer to get there. But curtains for doors. HELLO! What is this world coming to? I thought architects and interior designers were maybe smarter than that. As these thoughts pass through my mind, my small child darts through the curtain and back out into the store. The jeans I was trying to try on aren't completely on. But my child and his well being are more important to me that any ounce of dignity I wish I could save. That is, if there is anything left to save. He hadn't made it far, and I think I went mostly unnoticed as I swiftly made my way back into the fitting room.

I slip back into my jeans, and we leave, completely empty handed and with a $100 gift card still tucked away, unspent. I try not to make eye contact with Miss Perfectly-Dressed, the friendly sales clerk.

The story did end well eventually. Herm went with Carson and I to the mall a few weeks later, and while I tried things on, he chaperoned the small escapee. The gift card purchased my very first pair of Madewell jeans -- worth every pretty penny they cost.

It was just a few short weeks later when I discovered ThredUP, an online second hand clothing store, via a friends referral. It was also around this time that our prayers for another baby were answered. In the months that followed I didn't have to go to the mall, toddler in tow, to buy maternity clothes. I went online. I was able to get brands I like at a fraction of the cost. They arrived packaged beautifully, often in like-new condition.

I was hooked. Still am, in fact.

Wool Cocoon Sweater c/o ThredUP, Madewell Jeans via ThredUP

Anthropologie Buffalo Check Tunic via ThredUP

Wrap, linen tee and sweater, all ThredUP

I've scored many deals for my kids, my favorite brands being Zara and BabyGap, and my entire wardrobe got an overhaul too, with labels I wouldn't normally allow myself to invest in at full retail price -- such as Madewell (jeans for $30 versus $125. Yes! It's true!) Anthropologie, J. Crew, and Free People -- because after pregnancy many of my things weren't fitting quite right.

I've had friends ask how I'm able to find things on there; it is overwhelming, the amount of items you need to search through. My simple tips are: Download and use the app for shopping, and apply size and brand filters, so that you aren't seeing items that won't fit or you wouldn't typically wear anyhow. And finally, be persistent and specific in your searching. You have about 24 hours for an item to be held in your shopping cart before it goes back into the store again, so don't delay if you do find something you absolutely love.

And that's how it all began, folks, my love affair with second hand shopping... online, and without kids trailing me. From now on, its always #SecondHandFirst.

ThredUP sponsored this post (thank you!), and they are generously offering 50% off Free People items to all first-time customers with the code FREEPEOPLE50. Discount up to $50.

Happy shopping!

Blouse via ThredUP