A Good Home, Family Moments

Pride or The Lack Thereof

My good man doesn’t understand why I like my sister’s old clothes. She shows up with a bagful of clothing and I rummage through them like a kid with a treasure box.

The look on his face says: “At your age, you really should not be wearing your sister’s hand-me-downs.” 

I could tell him they’re not just any old cast-offs: they’re my sister’s cast-offs! But he didn’t have older brothers; he doesn’t understand.

Blog Photo - Cynthia coat - bag of clothes

I could say that wearing each other’s clothes goes back decades, to stories like this one: for her first big job interview, my sister wore the light-blue suit that I had just bought with all my savings. She got the job and I shared in her pride. We never forgot that moment or that suit.

I could remind him that my sister did me a favour by accepting my collection of shoes.

Many had been bought on sale in Italy when I worked there.  But some were bought closer to home, after the car accident.  They were a commitment: I would heal, would wear “nice shoes” again.

It never happened, of course, and a few years ago, I finally surrendered. But I knew those shoes had to go to a special person. Someone who wore the same size and would understand.

My sister understood. My sisters always understand more than I tell them.

Blog Photo - Cynthia coat full

They’d also understand why I bought this strange-looking coat, another thing my good man can’t fathom.

“Why are the sleeves different?” he said when I first wore it some years ago.

Blog Photo - Cynthia coatsleeve 1

Blog Photo - Cynthia coatsleeve 2

“And those buttons!”

I said each purchase contributes to funds for families in the Himalayas. That didn’t change his mind.

Blog Photo - Cynthia coat closeup

It’s been over-worn. When the zipper got stuck last week and I had to step into the coat, cane and all, in the middle of a restaurant, he wasn’t there. And a good thing, that: he’d have turned white with astonishment — a difficult thing for a black man to do.

Blog Photo - Cynthia coat zipper

“You did what?” he asked, when I mentioned it. 

“It was a struggle! And when I looked up, giggling, other patrons burst into laughter,” I blithely continued.

“And that didn’t bother you?”

“Of course not!”

You should have seen the look on his face. 

The issue, you see, is personal pride and dignity.  It seems I’ve lost all of mine.


Dedicated to my sisters, and to my husband, who love me, no matter what.

86 thoughts on “Pride or The Lack Thereof”

  1. So sweet that you are close to your sister and you still like to share. I have three girls and I liked to dress them the same. The youngest wore the same outfits for years as they were passed down.

  2. No, you have not lost your pride. You have just replaced some it with something even better – The ability to see the ridiculous in the sublime and found the fountain of laughter. How wonderful.

    1. Thanks, Paula. Beautifully expressed. I like that. Humour helped save my soul, although the therapists at the rehabilitation hospital knew me as the woman who never laughed! I had to relearn laughter (bizarre, right?) and writing crazy things on my blog helped me do it.

  3. I love this. My daughters and I forever exchange clothes. One of them wears all my 70’s clothing. We never pass our bought clothes to charity shops without checking each other first and though they used to laugh at me when they were younger, they too now buy many of their clothes in Charity shops. It is conscience-free shopping and a stitch or two here and there can transform a garment.

    1. I am so glad to hear this, Hilary! My daughters have passed on to me a few items of clothes too, largely because I refuse to shop for myself. I like the ‘conscience-free’ idea. Our daughters picked up great deals on coats, etc at Charity shops too.

  4. I don’t know about your pride, but your humor and ability to tell a story are in tack. 🙂 How wonderful that you and your sister have such a great history, relationship, and size for sharing clothes. My brother and I share none of those things.

    1. Thank you, Brad. Glad you like my attempts at humour. You and your brother live far apart, so that would make it tougher, even if you were inclined to share. My two other sisters live far away from me too, or they’d no doubt be bringing me clothes as well!

  5. “When the zipper got stuck last week and I had to step into the coat, cane and all, in the middle of a restaurant, he wasn’t there. And a good thing, that: he’d have turned white with astonishment — a difficult thing for a black man to do.” You are too cute, Cynthia! Loved this post.

    1. Glad you did, Jill. I think it’s our differences (in addition to most of our shared values) that have helped us on life’s road. He has the great strengths that I lack (a quick wit among them), and I love that man for it.

  6. Oh, that coat! Wonderful! And what choice did you have when the zipper was stuck? Go without a coat? [Now there’s a practical Franco-American attitude for you. 😉 ] And I’m with Jill. Great post!

  7. Ahh i remember those hand-me-down days- the joys of having an older sister!! Admittedly we don’t do it much now! I think it’s great.

    1. Thanks for that! This particular older sister was the one that got me into all that trouble as a kid — and proud of it too — so I figure the least she can do now is to share her clothes! (Tee hee…)

  8. LOVE the coat!!! Hey, with letting slip a little of our pride can come great advantages. It’s not so much about hand-me-downs, but sharing with a sister. I don’t have one, but I’d like to think that, if I did, we’d be doing the same things that you and yours do … sister stuff!

  9. Good post! My sisters and I live too far apart to be able to share clothes, but sometimes I wish I could raid their closets because they have good taste and lots more disposable income. Love the buttons on your coat. Don’t you wish good clothes had good zippers? Seems that quality zippers may not exist.

    1. I hear you, sister. My beloved eldest sister always dresses beautifully, but lives too far away too….
      Yes, I wish zippers were better these days, I do! Lovely to hear from you, Marie.

  10. Oh for the wonderful love of sisters…. Beautiful post! I live in Maine and my sister in Texas, we hadn’t seen one another for 12 years and she flew in to visit for two weeks last summer–still basking in the glow of sister love. ❤ xo

    1. Bette, I’m so glad you saw each other, at last! 12 years is a long time. I just realized that it’s about the length of time since I last saw my eldest sister. I miss her a lot too. Here’s to sisterly love!

  11. What fun to have sisters to exchange clothes with! The coat is most whimsical and I absolutely understand why it is a treasure. I love hand me downs of all kinds and generally prefer 2nd hand clothes to brand new.

    1. Thank you, Susanne. I’m glad you like that weird coat! And that you love second-hand clothes too. Just think of all the waste we’re preventing — right? I went ‘shopping’ in London one day 2 decades ago and the only thing I could afford was a second-hand blazer at Oxfam, for 30 pounds. The thing is: it was so very well made that I still have it today. But new, it would have been way out of my league.

  12. Who wouldn’t love that coat! (well, except for your good man!) It’s a gem. I would be naked if it weren’t for hand-me-downs and second hand offerings, and my unadorned body is something no one should see (not even me if I can avoid it!). 🙂 🙂 Sisters are wonderful and not just for clothes, as you know. 🙂 🙂

  13. This made me smile all the way through. ;)) Personal pride and dignity are highly overrated. I get it and love it. Thanks for ending my day on a whimsical note. There are way too few of those.

  14. My dear sister – you made my day – you always say such lovely things.
    Talk about pride, it’s just that you have no false pride. Remember when we jumped into the back of a pick up truck in Montego Bay Jamaica to go to the beach. You said, we had better not mention this to our husbands. Why the hell did we have to hide this from them?

  15. That coat is FABULOUS. I understand completely why you would buy it. I never had sisters to share clothing with, but did trade off with a few roommates and liked that a lot. I’m glad the shoes found a good home!

  16. Love that you and your sisters still share and appreciate the history behind your purchases. This reminds me of that old story/poem about the woman getting older and wearing purple with red whenever she wanted. It’s one of the few advantages of being mature. I would have applauded you getting into the coat. 🙂

  17. Thank you for making me laugh, dear Cynthia. I adore second or third-hand clothes. I’m wearing several items right now that have already been around a few blocks and restaurants. I drooled seeing all those buttons. But there’s no room in my closet or in my button jars anyways.
    Blessings ~ Wendy

    1. And you made me smile, dear girl. You wrote an interesting post today about integrity. When our beliefs are tested by the fear of losing face, we discover what we’re made of.

  18. You reminded me to look back to my own clothing swaps with my sister! She loved clothes and I didn’t care much but then I’d borrow something of hers and feel special. Only then I’d neglect to hang it up properly, just throw it on the bed, and she’d have to refuse further borrowing requests for awhile, to teach me a lesson! Now, she works in Manhattan and I’m retired in the country so we rarely want/need each other’s styles. But we have the memories and each other!

  19. oh I loved this post so much Cynthia! I feel like this with my sister and my sister in law. I don;t have to explain much to them! My kids are growing up like this sharing many things. The youngest gets a lot of hand me downs from the oldest and I see it as a way for them to be even more connected. Lovely post!

    1. I bet those sweaters are extremely comfy, Jessica. Come to think of it, my husband did give me some of his old shirts and sweaters in earlier days, and I did wear them! Still wearing one of his white shirts, too.

  20. Sweet post, Cynthia! It must have been lovely growing up with sisters. (I have all brothers.) But I think what I like best is the bit about having lost all your personal pride and dignity. That sounds very liberating!!

    1. Glad you understand, Sheila. It’s one of the few good things that the accident injuries took away, and this is one I like. Thanks for visiting and commenting from Italy — one of my favourite countries ever!

      1. That is really encouraging, Cynthia. Still another reminder of how great our Father’s love is. When he allows things to be taken away, somehow he always gives back even more! Every experience we go through teaches and enriches us. And often we get the most from the hardest ones. And yes, Italy is fabulous!!

  21. My younger sister used to borrow from me when we lived at home as girls but I don’t ever remember borrowing clothes from her. We live too far apart to indulge in clothes swaps these days. My daughters now, they are always wearing each others clothes!
    I like how you climbed into your coat when the zip broke! Better than going home without a coat and so funny too!

    1. Glad your daughters are always wearing each other’s clothes. It’s fun. These days it’s more of a one-way street for me: my sister brings me clothes and I wear them!.

      1. My sister and I wear different styles – she is much more flamboyant than I am – so we would find it difficult to share. I don’t enjoy clothes shopping and wear my clothes until they are almost falling apart so I have nothing to hand on to anyone! It really pleases me that my daughters share.

  22. Men never understand this kind of thing or the whole dignity concept. Take the stepping into the coat, well, you’re a woman and you’ve a daughter and you know how do defuse things with humour because too much dignity just gets awkward. The fact you laughed meant that all those folks watching were able to laugh with you, instead of feeling awkward and thinking, blimey, that poor woman, do we go to her aid, but no, wait, she has a stick, she might find it condescending, what do we do? I dunno about you, but I gave birth to any last shreds of dignity while gestating and delivering McMini! Once birthed, it upped and left before I knew what had happened!



    1. Those flannel shirts would have come in handy in the cold mountain air of my village. Did I tell you the original homes there were built with multiple fireplaces? (By “original” I don’t mean the Indigenous people, but the British colonists.)

  23. What a delightful story! And what a wonderful relationship you have with your sister! I never had a sister and my only brother is 11 years older than me. We weren’t really close growing up. But we are now (thank goodness)! But I still won’t wear his hand-me-downs! LOL! 😆

    1. Don’t know what I’d have done without them, Cathleen! I was always one of the tiniest kids around, and they protected me from the bullies. (Though one of my older sisters is very proud of all the times she got us both into trouble stealing the neighbours’ fruit, so there’s that….)

  24. I loved hand me downs for my children. I felt the anticipation of seeing clothes from people who are much more stylish than me, people who would only buy “name” brands, people who didn’t think a child could wear an outfit unless it had matching shoes passed on to me. There’s no shame in my game ha ha!

  25. Such a fun story Cynthia. And I’m totally with you, why not share with someone close if it can help them. And it doesn’t hurt that you and your sister are the same shoe size! 🙂

  26. Oh I so love your coat! I would be happy to accept it as a hand-me-down any time! 🙂 I don’t see how you lost your dignity in that situation. You were full of dignity stepping into your coat! I would do the same instead of just carrying it over my shoulder and getting annoyed 🙂
    I wish I had a sister to swap clothes. It is the most sisterly thing to do ❤

  27. Loved reading about your sisters sharing of wardrobe. I have an elder sister & still we share clothes ..errrr…actually I take her clothes mostly. We rant & fight about it sometimes but we love each other so much that at the end of day , we end up sharing again :p

  28. Yes. Went back to the days, when clothes would be passed down from elder to younger to younger.. Thanks for the post. 🙂

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