Confession: with the exception of socks, shoes and undergarments, almost every item of clothing I own was bought at a thrift store or secondhand shop. Therefore, my wardrobe’s considerably nicer than what my income would lead you to expect. (And a lot more extensive, too. My boyfriend claims the size of my wardrobe to be exponentially in excess of what any five women actually require. He’s a good man in many ways, but here he’s flat-out wrong.)
It’s easy for me to dress well on little money because I live in Connecticut, a state filled with prodigal rich women who wouldn’t be caught dead
wearing last season’s fashions so every year they give their [not very] old clothes to Goodwill and buy new ones. And, bless their hearts, many of them wear my exact size.
If this were a suspense novel rather than a blog post, I’d segue here into a description of how buying secondhand clothes led to horrible consequences. Maybe the last owner of my favorite winter coat (black car-length fake fur with gorgeous antique buttons) was a psychopath who, before donating her coat to the Salvation Army store where I found it, drenched the fabric with a substance that turned into skin-soluble cyanide once I had it steam-cleaned. Therefore, as a direct result of my used-coat ownership, I died.
In which case this post would be ghostwritten, one way or the other. And once the government heard about my horrible death, they’d pass a law making it illegal to sell coats without first testing each one for a substance that turns into skin-soluble cyanide once it’s steam-cleaned. Since Goodwill and Salvation Army and hospital auxiliary stores can’t possibly afford to do this, it will effectively become illegal to buy or sell used coats. Future American women will never experience the thrill of paying only five bucks for their favorite winter coat (whose gorgeous antique buttons alone are worth many times that).And a similar law is set to take effect next month
, only regulating the sellers of children’s clothing rather than adult’s:
Barring a reprieve, regulations set to take effect next month could force thousands of clothing retailers and thrift stores to throw away trunkloads of children's clothing.
The law, aimed at keeping lead-filled merchandise away from children, mandates that all products sold for those age 12 and younger -- including clothing -- be tested for lead and phthalates, which are chemicals used to make plastics more pliable. Those that haven't been tested will be considered hazardous, regardless of whether they actually contain lead.
"They'll all have to go to the landfill," said Adele Meyer, executive director of the National Assn. of Resale and Thrift Shops.
The new regulations take effect Feb. 10 under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which was passed by Congress last year in response to widespread recalls of products that posed a threat to children, including toys made with lead or lead-based paint.
Gross overkill response to a problem: government in action. Though apologists for the law could say government’s killing two birds with one stone here: making it illegal for parents to buy used items for their kids means more business for retail establishments, and improved-by-force-of-law consumer-spending statistics.
As if raising children weren’t expensive enough already! A ban on used clothing would seriously hurt my finances and decrease my standard of living, but not as badly as it will hurt parents. Adults like me have a huge advantage over children, when it comes to keeping clothing costs in line: I’ve worn the same size for over a decade now, and won’t likely have outgrown my entire wardrobe by this time next year. But children, especially in their growing-like-a-weed phases, can outgrow outfits in a matter of months. Even when they don’t, kids give their clothes a lot more rough-and-tumble treatment than I do.
Like most regulations, the new law will hurt small businesses far more than large:
The regulations also apply to new clothing. That won't be a problem for large manufacturers and retailers, industry experts say, but it will be a headache for small operators such as Molly Orr, owner of Molly O Designs in Las Vegas.
And for good measure, the law as written grants huge amounts of discretionary power to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which “does not have the authority to change the law but can decide how to interpret it,” according to the article.
The CPSC is offering to exempt products made of natural materials, like cotton or wool, but tests would still be required for non-natural dyes and artificial yarns, i.e., pretty much all clothes made of cotton or wool.
Whether you’re buying for a child or yourself, look for clothing costs to get a lot higher next month. And remember: it’s for your own good.