Recently, Aunty Wendy and I spent most of the day at the storage unit, getting it into shape. (I have unpack donations once a week, but usually leave the big sort until one of the Aunties is able to help me. A few people have now used their community days from work to do this, and it’s excellent!) We had donations to unpack, undies to sort, and we went through all the women’s and babies clothes and got rid of the stuff that was a bit too worn/dirty/wrong season. And in the case of the women’s clothes, stuff they just won’t wear.
In the end, I think there were 6 big rubbish bags of stuff for the clothes bin or the op shop. I’d like to avoid this in the future and I keep banging on about it, but we’re still getting clothes that are 1) not suitable for the season 2) really old and fuddy duddy and just not something the women would wear or 3) far too big.
I did do a specific list of clothes the women go for, on Facebook. But I think I’ll have a link to this page permanently on the How You Can Help Us page that’s a go to. (Along with a link to my “don’t give us your shit” post.
So. The women do NOT wear: skirts unless they’re long and black and suitable for tangi wear; floral patterns unless they’re a bit floaty, but not those oldie timey ones; fluoro or electric colours (blues/greens). Very few of them wear pink. Very few of them wear lime green or any green at all; office wear – I keep some smart black pants in the storage unit in case people need them for work/going out but they are very slow to go; blazers; tailored shirts; and nobody who comes to the storage unit is ever over a size 22. Ever. So I keep the 22-26 clothes for a while, but even if they’re brand new, they have to go to the op shop. I don’t want you wasting your money, so please don’t buy the really large sizes. They just don’t end up with the women and we have to take them elsewhere.
What the women DO like: branded clothing particularly adidas, nike etc; chic jackets; warm winter jackets IN WINTER; skinny jeans – people send me lovely lovely jeans and they just never take them because they aren’t skinny jeans; leggings – black leggings in all sizes are HUGELY popular; slinky/flanelette pyjamas with both the bottoms AND the tops; designer clothing that’s a bit different – many of the women I work with are closet fashionistas and haven’t been allowed/just can’t afford to wear beautiful clothes; nice jumpers and plain sweatshirts. They aren’t big on patterns particularly, so plain is the way to go. Most of them love cardies. A good woolen, or merino, long black cardie is the thing.
The women also adore: perfume, body lotions, hand creams, jewellery. LOVE IT. Can’t get enough of it.
Understand this. If they have worn certain things in the past, they have been derided for it. Harangued. Perfumes cause arguments because she might be being unfaithful. White jeans are see through. Nice tops show too much cleavage. You can see where I’m going with this.
When they’re not long out of abusive relationships, they wear greys and blacks. That’s about it. Some like bright colours but not many. They tend to wear plain clothes, and clothes that are very casual. This is why the designer threads are really important. Because they get to feel feminine – something many of them haven’t been allowed to be for a very long time. Their confidence is fairly low around clothing and what to wear, so they just go for what’s easy and comfortable in the beginning. The further away they get from the abuse, the more they start to branch out a bit. But they still won’t wear any other jean but skinny ones.
I hope this makes donating a lot easier. Because what my ideal looks like is this:
- bags clearly labelled with what’s in them. Aunty Cath did this with baby clothes recently and it just makes putting them away so much easier.
- everything being recently washed and gone through with a fine tooth comb to get rid of stuff that’s a bit stale, a bit old fashioned, or a bit manky. Remember: if you wouldn’t wear it, don’t expect other people to wear it.
I am a simple women with simple dreams. Thank you for making them come true.