Dress Code: How To Handle The Gift Of Bad Clothes


No, not the ones you wanted: we’re talking the Christmas sweaters, the bunny suits, the cable-knit tube tops from Aunt Clara. And — bunny suits aside — chances are, you will encounter these foreign objects.

You may have to wear them once. If the giver is on the premises, it’s sporting to don the offending garment and give them a thrill. In cases of extreme sensitivity, you may need to hoard the gift and produce it annually. And you never know what might grow on you: a certain pair of snowman pajamas, given to me right before my Grandma died, has become an unlikely Christmas tradition!

If you’re crafty, I’m sure you can make all kinds of nifty quilts and pillows and interesting tunics out of those Christmas sweaters.

But let’s say there’s no one morbidly sensitive hanging around and no risk of forming emotional attachment and you can’t sew or glue. What to do?

The enterprising among you might want to make a quick buck. And you’ve got options. If your town has a Buffalo Exchange or similar, you can unload anything for a few bucks. Note that some of these places — and Brooklynites know what I’m thinking of here — are let’s just say “selective,” and may laugh in your face if you produce a Mark Darcy-style reindeer jumper with dreams of financial renumeration. Don’t let that bother you. There’s always eBay.


If, in the spirit of the season, you’d rather give than receive, your options are myriad. And please, this should not be restricted to the holidays or things you hate. While it’s true that there’s probably someone out there who will love what you don’t, there are also women who need business clothes, prom dresses, wedding gowns, maternity clothes and mastectomy bras all year round! If there aren’t any clothing drives going on in your area — and a Google search will tell you if there are, not to mention any local churches or community centers — there’s always the thrift shop route: just leave your things at a drop-off center or SalVa. Know, though. that not all thrift stores use everything; look into the policies or ask if you’re unsure. And Salvation Army, Vietnam Veterans of America and Military Order of the Purple Heart will all make house calls to collect your donation. Sites like Freecycle and FreeSharing are a great way to recycle clothing you don’t need. And keep in mind that plus-size clothing is typically the most-requested.

Some resources:

Salvation Army


Vietnam Veterans of America

Military Order of the Purple Heart

Soles For Souls (Gently-used shoes)

Dress for Success (Gently-used business-wear)

Whatever you decide, have a happy holiday and let’s count our blessings! And please do share any other programs or resources in your area for clothing donation!

For all of our handy Dress Code guides, go here.

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