Confessions of an Ukay-ukay Princess


Proud to be Practical

By Pamela B. Clavejo

I AM NOT RICH. I am no pretentious-social-climber either. But I love fashion and dressing up. I love colorful, crazy ensembles. I love Wednesday dress codes and themed parties. I love clothes and shoes and bags and accessories like a typical girl does.

Yet I don’t like spending too much for a simple t-shirt or a fussy blouse. I can’t afford to shell out my pocket on expensive leather totes and suede shoes. I find it insensible to splurge on bead bracelets and crystal necklaces.

Good thing Cagayan de Oro City is in abundance of these places. These places are goldmines, I swear. I could spend the whole afternoon shopping for an incredibly low price. With just a P100-peso budget, I already have a complete outfit with matching accessories to boot!

The best buys come in cheap packages!

I am talking about the ukay-ukay shops, yes. The big tables with the mountain of clothes, the tents with hundreds of dresses on the hangers – it is just amazing how all these things are cheap yet exquisite at the same time! Leather skirts, velvet shoes, satin blouses – you name it! All the things that you need are there.

If you’re talking about standards, ukay-ukays are anything but below average. In fact, these are branded items that are just on sale because they’ve been used by other people before. At an ukay-ukay shop, you can buy an authentic Anna Klein or Chanel that are twenty-times lower than its original price. If you’re lucky, some items even look as if they have never been worn before.

It’s just that, in an ukay-ukay shop, you can’t expect to find the things that you want there and then. You can’t also expect the comfort and the cold atmosphere of the malls have to offer. You have dive into the huge pile of clothing and search for potential outfits. The diving-part is actually the fun-part of the ukay-ukay shops. Hence the term ukay-ukay, which in the translation means “dig in”.

Not all people are into secondhand stuff, though. Some find it embarrassing to wear hand-me-downs and they think that it’s despicable beyond all the standards of fashion. We can’t blame them nor can we push the issue. Maybe they’re not just that comfortable of admitting that an ukay-ukay is all they can afford?

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that everybody should buy ukay-ukays from now on. If you can afford all the brand new stuff, then why not. I’m just saying that if you can’t, then don’t force yourself to be an insensible spender.

We’re all college students and come on, not all of us have the privilege of an unlimited credit card. Fashionista or not, if you are on a relatively tight budget, it doesn’t hurt to be practical. No need to sacrifice your meal allowance to accommodate an expensive, branded item. No need to cut off your savings account for a thousand-priced piece.

There is nothing wrong about being practical. There is nothing to be ashamed of. So what if you buy cheap stuff like ukay-ukays? So what if you wear secondhands? It doesn’t make you less of a person. In fact, it means that you are aware of your limitations (in this case, financially) and that you are innovative enough to think of ways on how to make the most out of what you have. It means that you appreciate the value of well-earned money.

I have girl friends that I admire so much because even if they can afford to buy those dresses worn by mannequins displayed at the mall, they still chose to buy from the ukay-ukay shops. They would rather spend their clothing allowance on secondhands where the worth of just one dress in a boutique is equal to three different dresses in an ukay-ukay shop. How’s that for pretty-little-practical?

After all, what you wear and where you bought it does not define who you are. At the end of the day, it’s your character and your personality that matters. Clothes, shoes, bags, and accessories may all be fun; but the real essence of our being is how we value the things that we have.

So, be proud to be practical! Great things come in cheap packages.

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