Juniper's clothes

Posted by jdg | Wednesday, October 11, 2006 | ,

We get 2-3 e-mails per week asking us where we get Juniper's clothes. I always have to be a bit sheepish with the answer. Her clothes are not all lovingly hand-crafted by a collective of hipsters sewing on antique Domestic sewing machines while listening to the new Joanna Newsom album in their Brooklyn studio space and then donating 75 percent of their profits to Guatemalan orphanages. Nor are most of her clothes from fancy San Francisco boutiques, unless they were on the clearance racks or Stefania bought them there. Almost everything she wears is a hand-me-down. Or something I found on eBay. See, I was never above bringing a notepad into those fancy boutiques, writing down the names of the best labels and then scouring eBay for the same clothes at a fraction of the price. Remember: I'm cheap.

In the past, we have also taken some heat for how we dress Juniper, one reader even telling me that she's going to be "a freak" because of our imposition of such a ridiculous wardrobe on her fragile little identity. But generally, the response has been positive.

But I have discovered a new source for Juniper's clothes that is keeping our child-sized hanger supply at perilously low levels: thrift stores. I am no stranger to thrift stores. I spent more time in law school shopping at Ann Arbor-area thrift stores than I did studying. But I never had any reason to look at the kids' clothes then, and let me tell you: kids' clothes at thrift stores are awesome. See, there aren't a lot of 18-24 month old hipsters around here to take all the good shit. That means I have a virtually unlimited supply of early-eighties Montgomery Ward sweaters, handmade dresses from the sixties, urchin pants and vintage polyester jumpers. I love reading her books that I remember having read to me in my childhood, and I love dressing her in clothes from the early eighties. And even better, they're all $1.00 each.

The other day I took Juniper to my favorite thrift store of all time, and just like her dad she was in heaven. The first thing she saw was a giant plastic rocking crocodile, which I let her play on for a few minutes while I looked at old un-PC children's books called Roberto the Mexican Boy & such. She rocked that crocodile with such a fervor that even the haughty transexual stockgirl was moved to crack a smile with his heavily-painted lips. It was hard to drag her off the filthy thing, but she was even more impressed by the aisle of dirty broken toys at the back of the store. Naked dolls, grubby playskool musical instruments, mangy giant sideshow prizes, they all looked just right to Juniper. I was so proud of her.

Generally, babies at thrift stores aren't even held to the same standards as babies at Wal-Mart. Whining babies at Wal-Mart are like stoic Buddhist monks compared to the venomous, tantrum-throwing Beelzebubs you see sitting in the seats of thrift store shopping carts. Juniper behaved like a champ. She even let me try some sweaters on her that looked like they might be too small. My only complaint was that when we were in the girls' dress aisle, she caught sight of the crocodile rocker at the front of the store, and started shouting, "Cock! Juney want cock!" over and over. I just shrugged my shoulders and said, "not now, Juney."

We shopped some more, but the presence of that rocking croc up front kept Juniper's outbursts R-rated to the point where I decided it would be best to check out before the Washtenaw County Sheriff showed up and started asking questions. On our way towards the register, with a shopping cart full of kids' clothes and kid screaming for cock in the seat, I nearly mowed down a total hipster and his hipster girlfriend perusing the mitten selection. "Sorry," I said, but they snarled and looked me up and down, dismissing me as some poor schlub who buys his kid's clothes at the thrift store. I wanted to give them a signal that I was actually there for the cool stuff, that I, too, liked ironic one-armed gospel preacher LPs and macramed beer cozies but who was I kidding? They were right about me. That's exactly who I am now.