Saturday, June 4, 2011


After the third Program meeting way back in September, I pushed open the school door and held it for a woman who was coming out after me.

“How does it feel to be wearing baggy pants?” she had asked.

I tugged my stretchy Dockers up. I’d worn them that night because I wanted to compare apples with apples when we took our measurements and weighed in, but I was beginning to realize that wouldn’t work any more. At that point, I’d lost ten pounds – much of it from my belly – and the pants were sliding off me. I looked like a bag lady and the situation was, I hoped, only going to get worse.

Luckily I still had some smaller pants and blouses in the closet and hey, maybe I’d be able to once again wear the sweaters that had looked frankly obscene for several years now.

I worked through those clothes. The size twelves, the size tens. I had no dress pants left that would look anything other than silly in a business meeting.

As you all know by now, Fodder had resisted a shopping expedition, preferring to hold up his trousers with suspenders for a while longer, a few more pounds, before investing in a new wardrobe. Like him, I wasn’t inclined to buy a bunch of new clothes only to have to spring for more in a few weeks.

So back in the fall I did what I always do when I need to refurbish my wardrobe: I visited my favourite thrift store. It’s run by a local non-profit group so I’m supporting my community, and other people support them by donating fantastic clothes. Thanks to their generosity, my closet typically houses InStyle sweaters, Liz Claiborne blouses, and DKNY pants, purchased for a fraction of their original cost.
I never know quite what I’m going to come away with.

A couple of years ago, the Saint found some old bamboo cross-country ski poles. He sawed the bottoms off and added a pair of new rubber feet from a sporting-goods store and voila! I had a funky and functional pair of Nordic walking sticks. I tested them on local walks and took them on a four-day backpacking trip and I will never hike without them again.

So it was a no-brainer for me to hit the thrift stores again when I needed some clothes that would take me from appalling to appealing.

What I found: Simon Chang jeans, an Ann Taylor sweater (sleeveless! Me!), a silk Eileen Fisher jacket, a merino wool Banana Republic V-neck…

Mind you, I didn’t find them all at once. But I stopped in for a few minutes every week or two, and I usually found something. And because the store is on one of my usual travel paths (and close to a wine shop as well as a good bike mechanic), it didn’t use up time that I needed for anything else.

And if I downsize out of the new jeans, I will happily donate them right back for someone else who’s trekking along the path with me. 

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