Superstitions & ULs Regarding Used / Second-Hand Clothing

Ermintruder

Delineated by a professional cryptozoologist
Joined
Jul 13, 2013
Messages
5,877
Reaction score
8,788
Points
284
I've often wondered why the wearing of other people's clothes has never (?) been seen as imbuing the newer wearer with some tenuous aspects of the original owner's characteristics.

Note: I'm not believing (necessarily) that this is, or could be the case. I'm meaning that my perception is that there are remarkably-few human superstitions about it (tell me otherwise). I'm unaware of any real taboos regarding this, and that really surprises me.

Again, I'm not referring to people 'in disguise', or the wearing of crowns etc of authority.

Perhaps this is just the absence of a nothing, but I am genuinely-surprised (hygiene aspects apart) that there is such an expedient equanimity about the wearing of other peoples' clothes.

I also may be phobic about clothes lying on seats etc, almost in the shape that they'd be, if worn by a person. So I really dislike a pair of unworn trousers that are sitting on an easy chair, with a bend at the knee. I have to fold them, either in half (to form a singular trouser) or fold them completely. Or an empty sweater, across the back of a seat, with its arms wide open

By way of clarification- for me, this is neither OCD or ultra-neatness. It's a form of unwornclothesaphobia (I am unsure if there's an official latinate name for it...if not, I'm open to suggestions, or will conjour one up from the scrying bowl later....)

ps on a tenuously-related angle, I've recently made a curious textile technology discovery regarding denim jeans...when I tell you, it'll answer a question you never knew you always wanted to know the answer to.
 
Last edited:

Min Bannister

Possessed dog
Joined
Sep 5, 2003
Messages
4,868
Reaction score
6,787
Points
234
I wear lots of clothes from charity shops and have never had a problem or felt it ought to be some sort of problem. The only time I have ever come across any snobbery about it is in a book I read as a child about ponies. Our heroine wanted a pair of jodhpurs and a pair came up second hand. She had to get permission from her mother and only after assurances from the seller that they came from a "lady of quality". Silly cow (the mother).

I think it would be extremely impractical to scruple about other peoples perfectly good clothes which is probably why it doesn't happen. Where would it stop? Moving house? But someone else used to live there! Staying in a hotel? But other people have slept in that bed! Georgian chair? Ewwwww! Etc etc.

We have washing machines after all! :)
 

sherbetbizarre

Special Branch
Joined
Sep 4, 2004
Messages
4,258
Reaction score
3,554
Points
184
Is there any truth in the rumour that Peter Sutcliffe's wife gave all his clothes to charity, because she liked the idea of people walking around in the Yorkshire Ripper's attire?*


*or maybe Private Eye said that, and that's why she sued them. In which case, delete this post!
 

JamesWhitehead

Piffle Prospector
Joined
Aug 2, 2001
Messages
13,336
Reaction score
12,195
Points
309
There is a scene in The League of Gentlemen*, where a fussy woman interrogates the staff of a charity shop about whether a man has died in the suit she is browsing. She will not rest until she finds one! :reap:

*It was actually Little Britain, as Tribble points out below! :)
 
Last edited:

Tribble

Killjoy Boffin
Joined
Apr 21, 2015
Messages
2,991
Reaction score
6,852
Points
209
There is a scene in The League of Gentlemen, where a fussy woman interrogates the staff of a charity shop about whether a man has died in the suit she is browsing. She will not rest until she finds one! :reap:
Wasn't that Little Britain?
 

Ermintruder

Delineated by a professional cryptozoologist
Joined
Jul 13, 2013
Messages
5,877
Reaction score
8,788
Points
284
ps on a tenuously-related angle, I've recently made a curious textile technology discovery regarding denim jeans...when I tell you, it'll answer a question you never knew you always wanted to know the answer to
I am very-guilty of not delivering on my forum promises. For which I apologise.

Right, jeans. Well, classic denim workwear, which has become an equalising fashion icon, whilst still cladding the calf of many a worker (in factories, and upon catwalks).

We probably all subconsciously register some level of accomodated surprise at the characteristic orange-yellow stitching that typically counterpoints the varying blue hues of the main cloth. That odd universal yellow-ochre traditional thread, that binds our general jeans together: yes, we all see it....but why is it precisely what it is??

And the answer is stunningly-simple, obvious, and oddly-liberating in its recognition.

It is just bleach. The action of bleach upon the denim is to fade and nuance the bold blue of the standard cloth. And meantime, all black/blue/brown threads, used to make the garment, turns the threads into the traditional orange sunset egg-yolk yellow that we all recognise, with barely the slightest thought.

Maybe everyone knew this, bar me. But I'm going to guess that no, you did NOT realise this odd fact. But now you do. And you are ever-better prepared to tackle life's quizzes and mystery, with this tiny additional nugget of pointless trivia...from a thread, about threads....and, well, threads.
 
Last edited:

Andy X

AWOL
Joined
Dec 12, 2014
Messages
3,426
Reaction score
3,800
Points
154
Location
Larch Forest
"Dead people's clothes" is a common nickname here for thriftshop finds, especially of suits and other such formal clothes. Despite the nickname I've never known of a creepy experience with such clothes.
I've bought several decent shirts - posh labels an' all - from charity shops as they were cheap and so am I ;) I'd be lying if I pretended I'm not very very careful to check them for 'forensic evidence' of the previous owner and that's the thing - unless they've never been worn how can they be so spotless? There are limits to the power of washing and dry cleaning...

I can think of two possible scenarios:

i) Shoplifter nicks some shirts then has a crisis of conscience and drops the swag off at Save the Children.

ii) An uncomfortable Christmas misunderstanding:

"Here's your present, luv. I hope it's alright."

"Thanks Gran", *rustle, rustle*, "Oh...it's a ...shirt. That's lovely, thank you very much".

"You haven't got one already have you?"

"No, that's...great...thanks."

*thinks*, "Damn, I do have a shirt. Oh well, I'll take it round Scope on the 27th. She'll never know".
 

escargot

Disciple of Marduk
Joined
Aug 24, 2001
Messages
31,515
Reaction score
36,830
Points
309
Location
HM The Tower of London
Techy and I recently bought jackets from a charity shop after being caught in heavy rain. One was a very nice, BNWT fleece. I can't understand how it would end up there, unworn!
 

maximus otter

Recovering policeman
Joined
Aug 9, 2001
Messages
7,401
Reaction score
15,079
Points
309
Techy and I recently bought jackets from a charity shop after being caught in heavy rain. One was a very nice, BNWT fleece. I can't understand how it would end up there, unworn!
Most of my clothing comes from charity shops. Seriously.

On Saturday I picked up a pair of Rohan Trailblazer hiking trousers, apparently unworn. RRP £85; I paid £8.99

Previous scores include a Barbour Ventile coat, a Rab down gilet, several merino wool T-shirts, a Snugpak Sleeka quilted jacket, the SASSKit DPM camouflage jacket I use for stalking...

maximus otter
 

Ghost In The Machine

Justified & Ancient
Joined
Mar 17, 2014
Messages
1,478
Reaction score
4,316
Points
159
Location
Yorkshire
I suspect it hasn't got many superstitions around it as throughout history, the majority of the population were clothed from secondhand shops or 'slop shops' as they were called. I think somewhere Dickens writes about an entire street of slop shops in London and they come up regularly in 18thC and 19thC reports of crimes, etc.

Until the 1760s or so, every stitch of every piece of clothing every person wore was handspun and hand-woven, and so cloth and clothing were a huge investment and an important resource. So it is thought even a majority of the population were walking round in secondhand clothing. Extant records of a local Georgian pawn shop showed that a lot of the stock was clothing - all sold on if it stayed unredeemed. And some of that stuff was even pawned "worm eaten" (ie mothed) yet still had a value. Clothing historians also can find a treasure trove of info in wills and inventories espesially from the 17-18thCs - because clothing was so valuable it was left in wills. And that's clothing of all social classes from the wealthy to their servants.

Clothing is now disposable, cheap, etc etc so it has lost its significance in that way but the lack of superstition around it, maybe remains because for most of human history, even worm-eaten third hand clothing retained some value.

My husband passes a charity shop in a posh area on his way home from work and often pops in - much of the stuff he has got still has original price labels on and is clearly unworn. He got a brand new pair of Hotter shoes, some Doc Martens, and this summer, an actual stetson! Last year he bought a cheap brand new raincoaty thing because he needed it for dog walks and about a week later found a much better one for a couple of quid in the charity shop so got that too. We call it his 'dead grandad' collection but he is unrepetent. All his clothes are hand-me-downs from our oldest son who just gives his dad all his clothes and buys new every time he does a flat move... or charity shop finds!
 

ravensocks

Devoted Cultist
Joined
Oct 30, 2014
Messages
209
Reaction score
351
Points
69
"Dead people's clothes" is a common nickname here for thriftshop finds, especially of suits and other such formal clothes. Despite the nickname I've never known of a creepy experience with such clothes.
My family and I often say in tones of mock gothic horror "But someone might have died in it...", when showing each other our charity shop finds. We find ourselves hysterically funny, but I can see how others might regard us as weirdos :)
 

Vardoger

I'm #1 so why try harder
Joined
Jun 3, 2004
Messages
5,881
Reaction score
5,123
Points
309
Location
Scandinavia
My family and I often say in tones of mock gothic horror "But someone might have died in it...", when showing each other our charity shop finds. We find ourselves hysterically funny, but I can see how others might regard us as weirdos :)
And if they're "lucky" the person might have been dead in it for several weeks before he/she was found. :reap:
 

escargot

Disciple of Marduk
Joined
Aug 24, 2001
Messages
31,515
Reaction score
36,830
Points
309
Location
HM The Tower of London
As has been mentioned, clothing was often handed down in the past.

Queen Elizabeth l donated a dress to a church to make an altar cloth. She was painted wearing it in a portrait, which can still be seen.

See the lost dress of Elizabeth I

The Bacton Altar Cloth, a rare survival of Elizabeth I's wardrobe, on display at her former home
 

Kondoru

Antediluvian
Joined
Dec 5, 2003
Messages
7,066
Reaction score
1,875
Points
234
Now, you must understand I am what in China is called a Little Emperor, and so the idea of hand me downs has always had a certain cachet in my life.

(People with lots of older siblings recoil in horror when I say this)

When I was young, I had obliging cousins, but still, second hand clothing is still often more desirable than new in my books. (And sometimes I score something really nice and so cherish it...)

A friend gave me a load of clothes and bedding from a deceased relative, and that made me think;

In some cultures the idea of wearing something belonging to the dead would be regarded with horror.

But that is not as bad as a recent FOAFs death; They had a good collection of quality outdoors clothing and it was all thrown away...

Alas, this person was the sort to keep their investments in gold coins...and their relatives cannot find them...
 

escargot

Disciple of Marduk
Joined
Aug 24, 2001
Messages
31,515
Reaction score
36,830
Points
309
Location
HM The Tower of London
They had a good collection of quality outdoors clothing and it was all thrown away...

Alas, this person was the sort to keep their investments in gold coins...and their relatives cannot find them...
:evillaugh:
 

Souleater

Devoted Cultist
Joined
Jan 10, 2021
Messages
193
Reaction score
298
Points
63
My brother dislikes wearing new clothes, as a child he would always prefer 'hand me down' clothing to new clothes, even today, at the age of 43 he will wear clothes to the point of them literally disintergrating from wear and washing, before wearing something new, he has stacks of unworn new clothes on his bedroom, he's always been a bit of a strange fish lol, maybe he has a phobia of new clothes?, i think it is more to do with the fact that old clothes always have that 'worn in' comfyness, the way an old pair of trainets are like a pair of slippers compared to a new pair, on another note i buy loads of quality designer clothing from charity shops incl, armani, hugo boss, versace, michael kors, ralph lauren, paul smith christian dior to name but a few.
 
Top