Most my friends fall into one of two categories when it comes to shopping. They either jump at the chance to join me for an afternoon of rummaging through op shops and second hand clothing markets in search of that elusive, heart-skipping find, or they suggest going to our local gargantuan shopping centre to catch the-of-season sale at Sportsgirl.
Despite my persistent efforts to convert the latter, I get it. Scouring through racks upon racks of clothes that are a jumble of sizes, styles and colours. And while that’s half the fun for some of us, for others that feels like diving headfirst into the fiery depths of retail purgatory.
For me, there are so many pay offs for rummaging through the gorgeous mess of fashion cast-offs that is op shopping. Its almost guilt-free shopping – the money I spend is going to a charity and back into a community, I’m reducing my carbon footprint by not contributing to the tsunami of cheap, fast-fashion flooding the market (while still getting my ‘fast-fashion fix’, and best of all, there’s always the chance I am going to find that amazing piece at a bargain price that I’ll boast about forever more.
I love revealing to friends and strangers who complement me on my clothes that my jacket/skirt/top/shoes cost less than their lunch. It usually follows with the question, but how do you find it? What are your tricks?
Over the years I have discovered a few tips and tricks that help to find hidden gems, SO with National Op Shop Week around the corner (24th – 31st August), I thought I’d share some of my secrets!
Choose your op shop
The quality and price of what you find in an op shop has a lot to do with the town, suburb or city. I’ve had great luck thrifting in affluent suburbs, in the outer fringes of a city or small towns – these haven’t been endlessly picked through yet and you can usually find true vintage at a bargain price. My favourites in Sydney are Mosman and Cremorne Vinnies and I always find treasures when I head back to my small home town of Yeppoon in QLD.
Look for quality
The great thing about buying second hand is that you can still buy quality clothes at a fraction of the price. Be discriminating so you don’t end up with a wardrobe of cheap, ratty clothes you’ll never wear. Buy real leather shoes, bags and belts where possible. Search for silk, chiffon or high grade cotton (go for at least a 60/40 natural/synthetic ratio – check out the tag.)
Op-shopping takes a little longer than shopping in a department store where everything is neatly laid ordered in size, colour and style. For some, this is completely overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. The trick is to know what colours suit you and what styles flatter your body shape. A fair bit of rummaging is called for, so take your time and go with an open mind.
Alter and transform
This is a contentious subject – many of my vintage-obsessed friends shudder in horror at the thought of messing with the integrity of a piece. Here’s my take – if it means you are going to wear it and give it new life (opposed to sitting in your wardrobe) I say go for it. But if you’re not a confident sewer, then take it to a tailor so when you’re done with it, the next person can enjoy a piece that’s not hacked to bits.
Always try on
If you’re going for a day of op shopping, always wear clothes you can easily slip on and off. There’s no use buying something if it doesn’t fit you beautifully, compliment your shape and make you feel great. Don’t get tempted to buy just because it’s cheap.
Scan and browse
Those racks upon racks of clothes can be overwhelming, so here’s a trick you can use to get through a lot really quick. Scan the rack and look for fabrics and colours that pop out at you. Then go in for a closer look. If you try to look at everything individually you could be there for years.
Don’t’ forget the jewelry, accessories and nick nacks!
Op shops are great for picking up fabulous broaches, compacts, necklaces, bags, belts and scarves from op shops. Make sure you have a good look under the counter, and don’t forget the nick nacks section too. Think outside the square – if you’ve found a gorgeous broach, could you repurpose it as a hair piece? Or could you wear that necklace as a bracelet?
What’s your favourite tips for finding gems at op shops? Let me know by commenting below!
For more information on National Opshop Week, visit www.opshopweek.com.au