Hand-me-downs are used items that are passed from one individual to another. The main function of a hand-me-down is to obtain a longer duration of use from the item. Hand-me-downs can be just about anything useful that is passed on to another person, from clothing to furniture and appliances.
The practice of passing clothing from an original owner to a new owner is common in many families. One example is with baby clothes. As the baby grows, many items of clothing that fit very well a short time ago are still in excellent condition. Rather than discarding the articles of clothing, they are passed on to a relative who will be able to utilize the items for a period of time. Assuming the baby clothes are maintained, they may make the rounds several times before it is necessary to discard them.
Along with baby clothes, it is not unusual for articles of clothing to be passed from an older sibling to a younger one. Everything from jeans to formal dresses and suits may pass from an older teenager to a younger child in the home. This usually occurs as the older child outgrows the clothing, or when an older item is replaced with a new one. The older clothing, when still in wearable condition, becomes the property of a younger child.
Secondhand clothing is not the only form of hand-me-downs. Furniture is another example. It is not unusual for families to pass along used furniture to a young person who is moving into his or her first apartment. Basic furniture, such as a dining table and chairs, sofa, and a bed are common hand-me-downs that help to allow a young person to begin adulthood without the need to spend a lot of money on new furniture.
Essentially, hand-me-downs can be anything that is previously owned and intentionally passed on to another individual. Along with clothing and furniture, secondhand items such as kitchen appliances, computers, and stereo equipment are commonly passed on to people who can put the items to good use. There is a good chance that most people have at least one secondhand item in their home that was intentionally provided by a loved one. This means that hand-me-downs are sometimes not only thrifty ways to meet needs, but may also be a means of conveying good memories from one individual to another.