Sharing Family Garb Is Good Savings (if You Can Stand the Loan)


My lovely, celebrity-style dressing room is a spare bedroom I stole in the house, a spare that once housed a maple crib, green nursing glider and armoire of precious, spit-up stained Baby Gap dresses on mini-hangers.

Today, it’s my own little retail Mecca (organic, of course). But I do allow my daughters to visit and check out the blouses and shoe rack, and yes, even borrow on occasion. That sort of thing was taboo when I was growing up. Moms were moms.  Friends were the ones loaning stuff.

My own stylish mother (here with me and Grandma Zelda) towered over me at 5-foot-9 (not counting the beehive do) and always wore at least a size 14. She wasn’t a Laker like Julia Child and her sister, Dorothy, but when she got married, she wore flats so not to surpass 6-foot dad.

Lu with mom and Zelda

I hung out in Mom’s cavernous walk-in closet while she was away at luncheons. But no way could I actually borrow one of those gowns since they hung on me like a puddled curtain. I also was drawn to her off-limits, pointy, size-10 pumps, dyed to match her Jacky suits.

I was the fourth child and the runt of the litter – considerably shorter and smaller than the rest. (My theory is mother smoked a few more cigs and sipped a few more martinis when she was preggers with me.) But to be fair, I’m also considering the DNA link to my small, Polish ancestors.

Cut to my gorgeous teenage daughter with a great sense of style, who caught up with me in stature a few years back. I provide her with her own little Nordstrom Rack down the hall. I take full credit for cultivating her sense of entitlement since I have been most gracious about loaning her items, and have only kvetched a few times when they weren’t returned on time. She is very responsible and that counts.

Combined, Syd and I have a substantial inventory. I’m proud to say a chunk of it is the ski apparel we share for our annual Mommy-Sydney ski weekends in Lake Tahoe.


I was glad to squeeze into a pair of my daughter’s skinny jeans for my birthday outing with friends in August, and only felt a pinch after the second drink. You dirty martini, you!

How does the sharing work? Sometimes we fall for the same cardigan and it can make more sense during hard times to buy one to share and take turns – you know, like college co-eds on a strict budget. Call it the The Daughterhood of the Traveling Pants.

I also prefer to loan rather than buy her a dress for the countless B’Nei Mitzvah parties and other events she seems to attend. If she wears something of mine, it feels like new to her, even though I’ve worn it a dozen times.

This whole lending thing is why those smart couture rental shops, like Boutiqueville in Chicago, do so well. Why own something costly when you can rent for the occasion? When the high is over you send it back. Thank you, it was a great date, but onto other matches.

I should point out it isn’t just us girls sharing the wealth. My daughter also gets warm and fuzzy about wearing her dad’s old sweaters. I seriously think it brings her closer to him in a very sweet way.

Guess teens have been burrowing in oversize wool since Ann-Margret sang “How Lovely to be a Woman” in Bye Bye Birdie. He doesn’t mind her using the old sweaters, or at least, has never complained.

I got to wondering if other kids and parents are comfortable with community closeting or if most families are fiercely territorial about their closets. It certainly requires trust and respect, and the right kind of green deodorant.

I did a bit of research online and found little has been written on the subject. Hurray for me!

But I did stumble upon an interesting post on How to Share Clothes with a Cross-Dressing Husband.

Okay, the ground rules killed me: Killed me! They included keeping his paws out of your underwear drawer, making him replace anything stretched, torn or stained, and drawing the line when it comes to your most precious blouses or skirts (i.e. the ones with price tags still attached). The helpful primer also suggested shopping together to make sure you have the same taste. Oy!

None of this would work in my marriage. My husband is a large man who prefers high-wasted, baggy slacks to hip jeans. If he were a cross-dresser, he’d still be swishing around in those Dean Martin pants.

I do like some of his Oxford shirts and could see slipping into one after a post-sex shower and cocktail in bed, but since we don’t schedule those kind of Hollywood encounters (we don’t eat Chinese out of the box either), it’s all just another fantasy, like wearing my mother’s Yves Saint Laurent caftans.

I do have friends who are married to dainty men with little feet and excellent taste, and I could see trading with one of those fellows, swapping Indian tunics and Moroccan slides for a tux and velvet slippers when those Victor-Victoria mood strikes.

Of course, the well-dressed gay husband is top drawer when it comes to swapping, assuming he would cooperate. His rules might be too stringent for even me. I sort my closet by color but not by texture and season and don’t iron a thing. Crisp is not in my vocabulary.

No, I think I’ll stick with sharing with the girls, my wonderful girls, grabbing a wrap for Lauren when leaving for a party, pulling a dress for Sydney for a Bat Mitzvah. Selecting a hand bag that works. Maybe a trinket or earrings to tie it all together.

Does sharing benefit my daughters more than me? Well, naturally. It goes with the territory when you’re a consummate stylist and mother – who still misses dressing her dolls.

This is the sixth installment in Luanne’s column, Life in the Green Lane.

Main Image: In Style

Image One: Luanne Bradley

Luanne Bradley

Luanne Sanders Bradley is the West coast Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in San Francisco, California.