The Frugal Catholic: “God and Second-Hand Clothes” by Martha Wild King, M.Ed.–Sept

Two of my favorite scriptures when I get dressed in the morning are identical–Matthew 6:28-29 and Luke 12: 27 RSVCE.  In them Jesus says, “And why are you anxious about clothing?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”  Bottom line: God provides for His children.  He knows what we need before we ask for it; He knows what we need even if we are too dumb to ask for it; and He knows what we require, if we trust Him for it.

Clothing is no different.  God cares enough to get me dressed nicely in the morning, and here’s how.  We shop at second-hand clothing shops, together.

Now for those of you entering the “Frugal” world which is getting more and more fashionable, there are four basic sources of used clothes:

  1. Someone gives them to you.

  2. Garage Sales where people clean out their attics and basements and sell the items in their garage or front yard.

  3. Thrift stores where the selection can change daily and the price every three to four weeks as it is lowered.

  4. Consignment shops where people bring in their better garments to sell in return for about half of the shop asking price.

As you can guess, the prices go up from “a” through “d” as listed above.  And the selection is better in “c” and “d.”  That is where God and I prefer to do our shopping.  He hasn’t shaped me into The Frugal Catholic for nothing, you know.


Years ago when I began my married life, I also started daily reading Proverbs 31.   Solomon relays the ideal wife as taught to him by his mother, Bathsheba.  I learned this epitome of a helpmeet is truly awesome: she dresses well, stays fit, eats with intelligence, helps the poor, runs her household smoothly, profits from a home-based business, speaks with wisdom and kindness, and is loved by her husband and children.   That sounds like a nice way to end up.  The only problem, however, is there are too many attributes to focus on.  So the best way was to begin with one—“She makes herself coverings; her clothing is fine linen and purple.” 31:22. I knew I wanted to look good for my husband, and our funds were limited so thrift shopping with God was a great place to start.

That’s when God began His lily arraying stuff in my life. And that is when I began telling him what I would like to wear and asking if He could find it. He did.

When we lived in Europe in the 1990’s, one had to purchase a wardrobe for the bedrooms because there were none built in like in America.  It was clear, as a Navy wife, how very, very many clothes I had compared to the rest of the world.  That wardrobe taught me better closet organization and to get a clearer idea of how I wanted to dress.  I began organizing my clothes in garment styles.  All the summer shirts were grouped according to color, and then the summer pants in a similar manner and so on into the winter items.  Clothes which weren’t worn were released.  Likewise, it was always easy in Europe to pick out Americans for our clothes were brighter than our European’s counterparts who dressed in blacks and tans.  Their closets were lean; ours were stuffed.

So when we arrived back in America, I found more used clothing shops from which to choose.  Yes second hand stores are less expensive, but in considering that stuffed wardrobe and remembering the European’s lean clothing style, how many clothes are enough?  That is where God really stepped in.  We went for comfort and style, not quantity.

Yes God helps me get dressed each day.  I look at my outfits which generally match, and think back to where we found those black slacks—$ 5.00 at the Rotary Auction Yard Sale. Then that shirt was located at Bargain Boutique Thrift Shop.  The black shoes and red scarf were from the Goodwill thrift store and the purse a local consignment store.  Total cost of my outfit for that day is $21.  Savings if new would be  about $200.


Did it ever occur to you that God might really want that same something you want–for you?  So why not ask?  For example, when my daughter and I were looking at possible colleges for her in West Virginia, we found a great women’s shoe store where I purchased her a pair of Birkenstock sandals.  I also saw a pair of red patent leather Alegria shoes that I wanted, but they were too expensive.  So I asked God to find me the same thing, but secondhand.  He did about a year later on the shelf of a thrift/consignment shop where I volunteer once a month.  I dust the place with my double-fisted dusting technique where I have a feather duster in each hand.  The real reason I dust is so that I can see everything in the shop.  And there they were.  The exact same red shoes, exact size, only $120 cheaper.  I wore them to 10:00 mass last Sunday.

Let God clothe you as beautifully as He garments His lilies.  Think of what you need or want.  Then ask as it identically says in Matthew 7:7-8 and Luke 11:9-10, “Ask and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.  For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”  And remember too that although God may not give you exactly what you want, He may provide something even better so it is good to be on the lookout for His surprises.  Our Heavenly Father longs to make his children smile.

Martha Wild King, M. Ed., Author

The Frugal Catholic: Learn to live on less