A voice calls from upstairs.

“Mom!!  Have you seen my “Andrew Lehr” shirt??

It’s in the laundry.

Ok, how about the “Josh Weikel” one? 

Which one?

The red one.

In your drawer. Why don’t you wear that new shirt I bought you?”

I like the “Weikel”.

My kids have become completely label conscious.  Aside from the high fashion duds I buy them at Old Navy, Target and Kohl’s, they only wear two designer brands – Andrew Lehr and Josh Weikel (sometimes labeled JW or just plain Weikel).

How do we afford to keep both boys in these labels?  Well, the Mendells are the beneficiaries of a philanthropic trust that has been in existence for centuries.  It revolves around a charming institution we here off the Main Line refer to as “me donner” or more simply, “the hand me down.”

Here’s how it works.  Every few months, a mysterious box arrives from Cincinnati (from the Weikels) – or several shopping bags are delivered via my sister to my house (from the Lehrs).  Inside are really nice clothes in excellent condition – all washed, pressed and pret-a-porter for my boys.  And as both of their benefactors go to sleep-away camp, each item of clothing is LABLED with their names.   I leave the labels on – as a tribute to those who came before us.

The Lehrs and the Weikels have saved us thousands of dollars in clothing over the years.  In the most recent shipment, we received more than a dozen polo shirts from the Andrew Lehr line.  (see above) As Chase began to protest wearing anything with a collar I explained to him that these were reallllllly nice shirts and that each one probably cost $40.  I could see the recognition in his face as he understood how lucky we were to be able to have such nice shirts handed down to us.  He smiled broadly…. and suggested that we sell everything on eBay.

Sigh.  The kid is destined for Wharton.

I however am incredibly grateful for the hand me downs, particularly for Ellen and Alison who take the time to gather these clothes that are too small for their boys and send them to mine.  I pay it forward, offering our hand me downs to others.  I’d like to think that there is a household out there that has a preference for a Mendell shirt.  It’s a benevolent circle that feels good to be a part of.  

Those who think such a process is beneath them are more than welcome to  buy all of their clothing brand new.  But in our home, Lehr and Weikel trump Abercrombie and American Eagle every time. 

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