Thursday, October 30, 2014

Hand-Me-Downs From Mom

We're big on hand-me-downs in my family. I would say that more than half of what my husband and I own came from somebody else who used it first--parents, grandparents, friends, strangers (you know me and my thrift shops). I've never, as long as I can remember, resented hand-me-downs in the stereotypical way. I would even say I prefer them.

I'm sandwiched in between two brothers so as a kid I never had an older sister to bequeath me with all of her too-small clothes, but my mom always found a way to get me hand-me-downs despite this. I remember bags of clothes being dropped off by friends of the family who had slightly older girls, and this was always the most exciting thing. It helped that a lot of the clothes were totally stylish (my favorite were Gap hand-me-downs) and I loved sorting through everything and finding things I liked. It felt so special, like a big bag of presents had magically landed on my bedroom floor and it wasn't even Christmas or my birthday.

That feeling stuck with me and I remember a few years ago giving some tops and sweaters I no longer wore to a girl I babysat in New York. She didn't have any sisters either and her smile as she looked at the clothes and tried things on lit up the room. 

This tradition has carried me long into adulthood and some of my favorite things are hand-me-downs from my mom, things that she wore when she was my age. This Irish wool sweater is the warmest, most comforting sweater I own. My mom got it in the Aran Islands off the coast of Ireland when she was about 20 and wore it a ton throughout her 20s. It's still in the most beautiful shape and so classic--the warm beige wool, the knitted design, the leather cognac-colored buttons. I love getting it out each fall and winter (which I didn't do at all in Alabama, so I've missed it) and I love its comforting and meaningful history.

These adorable black leather mary janes were also my mom's and also from Ireland. They were handmade by a cobbler in Cork and my parents got them on a trip to Ireland when my brother and I were babies. My mom must have worn these a ton because I have the most vivid memories of her in them. When I wear them now, even the way they sound when I walk sometimes flashes me right back to my childhood. It's pretty amazing. The soles were quite worn so recently I took them to a cobbler and they put on new half-soles. The rest of the shoe is in pristine shape and I'm pretty sure they'll last long enough for me to pass them on to my daughter someday.

(Don't you just love that soft, crinkly aged leather?! I've always said it--old leather beats new leather every time.)

I just happened to be wearing both of these special heirlooms yesterday and I had my husband snap a photo so I could share these stories. Because what we wear really does tell a story and how wonderful is it to slip on a pair of shoes your mom wore when you were just a baby, or cozy up in a sweater that kept her warm on countless days? There's so much history wrapped up in these treasures and I'm a lucky gal to have them.

Thanks, Mom. :)


  1. I love love love both the sweater and shoes!! So beautiful! And it's amazing that both have lasted so long and are in such good shape. Such a deviation from the cheap clothing we now buy!! Thanks for sharing the story behind them, love it! xoxo

  2. Brilliant post!! I still get lovely hand me downs from my mom's friends, they just love passing things on to me. And I'm definitely thinking I must have an Irish wool sweater, it looks like a perfect investment (I mean look at it's condition, right?). Also, I've always wanted to host a clothing exchange party! Shopping friends' wardrobes :)

  3. The Isle of Arran is actually a Scottish island that is obviously well known for their Arran knit. I love the cardigan, some things just don't date!

  4. And it's just one singular island ;)

  5. I thought the same thing Katie! Makes me think of which of my things will survive long enough to pass down. I'd like to think I'll have a few special things for my one day daughter! xo

  6. Irish sweaters are wonderful! Such a worthy investment. Ditto on a clothing exchange party, that would be brilliant and fun and also so thrifty, right?!

  7. I would love to know the sweater's maker to see if they still exist:)


Your comments bring me joy! I do my best to respond to each one either on the blog or via email (if your email is linked to your comment). Thank you for visiting Something Ivory.

Designed by Jackie's Design Studio