They being the grandparents of the previous post, and yes, they were frugal. Both had grown up in large families in which it was not frowned upon to grow much of one's food, sew and mend and use of variety of tools for household repair. My grandmother made sure both of her daughters knew their way around a sewing machine and could run up outfits and dresses from any pattern. My mother in fact made several items of clothing for me as a young child but made sure to tell me during my teen years how much she hated sewing and considered it a mark of poverty. This while insisting that I, born with less than average motor skills, tackle a Home Economics class and a sewing project for which, as it turns out, a large amount of motherly intervention was necessary in order for me to obtain a passing grade. The buck stopped with me as I never did master the rudiments of sewing. That said, I do not consider creating useful and attractive clothing a mark of anything but talent and skill. The fact that one can save money on a wardrobe is an added bonus.
My frugal grandparents, busy with their working lives and juggling the needs of three kids, tried to impart frugality not because they were poor but because it made good sense in the long term. However, as stores and malls proliferated, so did available goods and my mother's generation preferred the convenience of even limited commissary stock to a cache of McCalls or Simplicity home patterns. Fortunately, for me, desperation in finding a suitable gown for public choir performances resulted in the maternal largesse of a dress made for just that purpose and one which I was proud to wear.
School clothes were a different matter. We shopped for those and when in the US, that meant an end of summer visit to Montgomery Ward or Sears. Three dresses, a skirt and two blouses, two pairs of shorts, a package each of underpants and socks and a bathing suit. Predictable, and fine until puberty struck, landing me in a sea of awkward hormones and my mother and hers at war over suitable behavior and attire. At twelve, I shot up about five inches in less than six months, leaving my mother desperate to keep pace with a wealth of changes not the least of which involved my hem lines. When she could lengthen dresses and skirts no more, I wore shorts beneath them until they simply no longer fit. Communicating this situation to my grandmother led to an unbeknownst to my mother chat with the aunts, all of whom conspired to help without making it obvious they were doing so. Money changed hands and my grandmother sent a check with instructions to me to look for some new clothes.
My mother's Singer, left to gather dust for a few years, was once again heard to hum in the night, and one day, a large parcel was deposited at the end of my bed bearing greetings from my cousin in Florida and her mother. Inside, shorts, tops, tee shirts, dresses and a skirt, all of which fit. That they had been previously worn by my cousin bothered me not in the slightest. I was simply happy to have nice clothes that fit properly and which did not call attention to my changing physique.
My teen years found me in trousers and jeans rather than the dresses and skirts of my childhood. I grew to loathe clothes shopping and malls and preferred second-hand stores and my school's weekly flea market, which of course led my mother to forecast that others would think I was poor and a slob, though which of the two embarrassed her more remains unknown. She of the pillbox hat and pearls generation was aghast to learn she had spawned Miss Tie-dye the tee shirt and jean queen. While my cousin was becoming a Junior Leaguer, I was marching for women's rights, found myself in jobs in which jeans were appropriate, learned about frugality and minimalism and refused to be swayed by my mother's increasing lamentations as I pursued advanced degrees, not on her dime.
Frugal? Yes, and proud of it, thank you.