Second chances

September 28, 2018

I’d certainly never claim to be any sort of fashion expert, but one thing I have noticed is that if you wait long enough eventually everything comes back into fashion. Clothes that have been stowed away in wardrobes for decades suddenly become cool again, in a never-ending cycle. 

It’s one of the reasons why thrift shops are more than just a last resort for clothes shopping, and why a community has grown up around putting together the perfect recycled outfit, sharing tips and advice. There are even fashion bloggers who have attracted massive followings as they spread the message that secondhand doesn’t mean second best. Where once there might have been a stigma around wearing pre-loved clothing, it is now actually cool.

It’s a welcome trend in our increasingly disposable culture. Our economy is built on convincing consumers that new equals better, getting us to rush out and buy the latest and greatest versions of goods whether we need them or not. And things are no longer designed to last a lifetime, or be easily repaired. Instead, regular replacement drives the cycle and keeps the money flowing.

It’s true of technology, and it’s just as true with clothing. When you can buy brand-new items for less than it takes to repair things, why would you think twice? But while I love new things as much as anyone, there is something to be said for making things last. Sometimes the old version still does everything we need it to, and there’s no real need to upgrade. Sometimes there is actually something about the not-so-new that has qualities or something to offer that the latest and greatest doesn’t.

This trend of finding new use for old clothes shows what good can come from not discarding things the moment they show signs of wear and tear, and how when we are willing to offer second chances we might just be surprised about how well it can work out. Clothes that were packed away years ago become the perfect ensemble for today, and outfits that we donated instead of binning are able to bring some happiness to the lives of others.

It’s a truth that can be applied to people, as well. Too often in our society, as we grow older we are seen differently, somehow decreasing in value or in what we are seen to be able to offer. It’s true with celebrities or athletes who almost have a use-by date and are pushed aside for the hot new stars, and we see it in the workplace or even the church, too. 

But when we don’t judge worth by age, and we open our eyes to the fact that people aren’t disposable but have a value that transcends the passage of time, we can discover just what it is we could have been missing out on. And, just like clothing, when we give second chances we may very well find that we are the ones whose lives are made the better for it. 


Tags: Salvation Army Australia

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Vol. 139, No. 14 // 11 April 2020

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