Hand-me-downs | AspenTimes.com


Paul Andersen
Aspen, CO Colorado

I’m bummed that Gracy’s is closing. The Aspen consignment shop has been my primary clothing outlet for years, providing all my “latest” fashions. There’s no Vogue in my clothing style, only Vague, and Gracy’s has filled the bill.

In addition to being affordable and eclectic, the racks at Gracy’s have allowed me to maintain an extensive wardrobe without buying anything new. This is critical to my commitment to “reduce, reuse, and recycle” ” the three R’s of sustainability.

Most of my shorts, shirts, pants and sweaters have originated at Gracy’s. The tuxedo in which I was married 16 years ago came from the crowded racks at Gracy’s. The old tux still fits, so looking dapper at the Andersen household takes on new meaning when I appear for breakfast in black tie.

You never know what you’ll find rummaging through Gracy’s, which has been for me a huge scavenger hunt. And since most of the goods come from the walk-in closets of the rich and famous, top brand names of the highest quality have been available at 10 cents on the dollar.

Used clothes are always a bit of a mystery. As I’m trying on khaki pants or a pressed linen shirt, I wonder if they derive from the estate of a recently departed soul. I sometimes feel a visceral connection to the former owner, especially when I dig into the pockets and discover a handwritten grocery list or a forgotten coin.

In the light of day, however, it makes little difference, and I assume the previous owner would be pleased to know that I will get many years of service from items that suit my fancy … and my budget.

Now that Gracy’s is closing, I’ll be checking out other consignment stores, but not with the comfort level I have found ducking inconspicuously into Gracy’s. The lighting there is low enough to ease the self-consciousness factor for retread shoppers like me.

Now what am I going to do?! I asked my wife. “Well,” she responded, “you might actually have to buy something new.” Never! I fired back. “Well,” she said, “you could place a personal in the classifieds listing your sizes and see if you get any response.”

Hmmm … not a bad idea. I’m too cheap for a classified ad, so here’s my pitch: fashion-impaired man looking for hand-me-down clothes. Waist: 33. Inseam: 34. Shirt size: 16/36. Style: organic mountain casual in cotton or wool.

Now that I’ve put it out there, I’m a little nervous about what might happen. It might feel strange knocking on the door of a Hunter Creek condo to try on some guy’s castoffs. And it would certainly be awkward arriving at an estate sale on Red Mountain to try on the deceased’s last purchases while his widow looks on. Still, there are the three R’s to consider …

Meanwhile, I plan to make a final foray through Gracy’s before they close, gathering enough clothing to take me far into the future. This will mean compensating for my expanding girth and shrinking height by bracketing a full range of sizes to last me throughout the years.

Hopefully, I can collect enough duds to wear until I’m old enough that I don’t give a damn what I’m wearing or how it fits, like a lot of the old guys I see around town. As long as you don’t end up wearing your pants backward, I guess anything goes in your Golden Years.

Then, when I finally pass from the face of this earth, an estate sale at my home on the Fryingpan will feature my own vast collection of hand-me-downs. In the open casket, I’ll be wearing the trusty old tuxedo that has withstood God knows how many former owners.

Don’t worry: Before the burial, I’ll have the tux removed and put up for sale with everything else … at a memorial discount.