Nothing beats finding a unique item of clothing or accessory, which fits perfectly, and costs next to nothing. Why buy new, when there is an abundance of wearable fashion already in circulation?
My blog readers will know, op shopping is one of my favourite past-times. So here it is, my. ...
Top Tips for Op Shopping (for fashion)
1. Seek out your local op shops.
You might find op shops you never knew existed. For example, I type in 'Malvern Op Shop' into google, and click on 'maps', and this is what I find:
Try it out with your own town and see what you get.
2. Try to find your local church op shop.
Such shops often stock labels and vintage clothes at a fraction of the cost you'll find them for in other second hand shops. A friend of mine found an Alannah Hill dress in her local church op shop for just $3!
3. Keep up to date with current fashion
Look online, in magazines and see what people are wearing on the streets, then replicate them by buying similar fashion second hand. Fashion trends run in cycles, clothes seen on the streets today have probably been 'in fashion' many years ago, but in a different way. Shop for fashion dated back a few years, a decade, or older. Why? If you choose clothes that were on the high street last year, you will 'look' last season. We all know fashion trends run in cycles, so you may well find a current trend which is actually a vintage piece.
4. Buy scarves.
Scarves are a great way to spice up an old outfit without spending too much. Brighten up a dark outfit with a colourful scarf worn around the neck, across the shoulders, the waist, or tied to a bag:
50c de Marco Fabrics Inc scarf from All Souls Op Shop in Sandringham
5. Get to know the op shop staff.
If you're on the look out for something, speak to op shop staff and let them know, they might set aside something you are looking for. (One of my local op shop's sets aside ripped or damaged children's books, so that I can make origami boats out of them for my son to play with on the beach, irrelevant to fashion, but recycling and fun!)
6. Have a rummage amongst the children's clothing.
Sometimes op shop staff mistake kids clothes for adults. I found a fabulous All About Eve T-shirt for 50c in amongst a tub of children's tops in my local op shop. Alternatively, some children's clothing might be large enough to fit an adult.
This GAP Jacket fit perfectly on my body, but too short on the sleeve. A simple sleeve adjustment, gave me a new short-sleeved denim jacket:
7. Go op shopping on a Tuesday (if possible).
Why? Most people do not get chance to donate their unwanted goods to op shop until the weekend, when many stores either close early, or do not have enough staff to sort through donations. Mondays will be the chance when staff are able to sort through newly donated goods, therefore Tuesdays see new fresh stock for sale on the shop floor.
Photo c/o we heart it
8. Don't reject clothing that is too big
If you see a clothing item you love, but it is too big, do not reject it. If you are unable to adjust a piece yourself, see if you can find a local seamstress/friend to do it for you. Getting a second hand clothing garment fitted to your shape is more than likely a cheaper alternative to a nice tailored piece.
This second-hand skirt from Hunter Gatherer in St Kilda, took very little time to adjust to my size:
9. Be picky.
It is all too easy to be pulled into the bargain. You see something you think you like, and buy it because 'its only $5', only to get it home and realise it is nothing you would ever wear. Same goes with using tip # 8, if you buy something with the intention of getting it altered to fit, but realistically never have the time to do so, don't buy it. If you think twice about it, don't buy it.
10. Do not go with the intention of looking for something specific
When op shopping, it is probably not a good idea to go looking for a certain item of clothing, as the likelihood is, you won't find it. There are exceptions to this rule however, if you go to second hand superstores such as Savers, where clothes are placed according to size and garment type, making things easier to find. Most of the time though, you'll find things you least expect.
Roller Derby's! as spotted on Melbourne Op Shop's Inner North Tour
11. Dedicate a day to go op shopping
Rather than quickly nipping into an op shop whilst on a lunch break, going to the bank etc, dedicate one full day to op shopping. You'll be in the right frame of mind, and have the time to rummage. Join an op shop tour, that way you won't need to worry about finding new op shops, just tag along for a shopping ride.
12. Know your labels.
Seeking out designer labels will be worth an investment. Designer pieces are usually made with good quality fabric, and are made to last. Even if you decide, after wearing your thrifted designer garment, that it is not for you, you could well get your money back, plus more, should you decide to sell it.
13. Carefully check a garment before buying.
Many, many times, I have bought something only to get it home and find stains, tears or holes. Some clothes are donated for a reason - because they are damaged. Not a problem if you can mend it, remove the stain, or refashion it into something else, but a waste of money if you can't.
14. Half price Salvos
Did you know there are half price bargains to be found in Salvo’s Retail Op Shops every day? Each week items labelled with a certain colour; blue, yellow, purple, orange, are half price. More details about that in one of my previous posts
15. Take a big tote bag with you.
Many op shops do not have shopping bags to give you, and quite rightly so. Take a foldaway bag, or a nice big tote shopper with you, of which you can fill up along the way. If you do forget to bring a bag, you may find very cheap second hand reusable grocery bags for sale such as these ones in Savers
16. Shop for clothes at antique shops
OK so technically not an op-shop hint, but you may find great fashion in antique retail venues at very reasonable prices. Aimee from JeTaime Vintage bought these Chanel boots for just $10 from an antique dealer in Byron Bay:
17. Op shop in the suburbs and out of town.
Suburban town op shops are much more likely to stock great clothes at a more reasonable price than CBD (City) stores. Why?
* CBD stores overhead's (rent, wages, rates, bills) are often higher than similar costs in suburbia, and they must therefore price their goods accordingly.
* City op shops usually know their brand names, and will price their donated labels accordingly.
* Good clothes will be snapped up much more quickly than those in suburban shops.
Some of the best buys are in small towns op shops in remote locations, where good brands go unnoticed.
18. Take cash
Many op shops do not have EFTPOS / Card payment facilities, particularly the smaller stores, so take cash with you. I always give myself a budget, take that out in cash, and stick to it.
Photograph c/o we heart it
19. Don't buy shoes that are too small.
Oh how I have fallen into this trap! You fall in love with a pair of shoes in an op shop, and of course they are the only ones on the shelf.. but they are not in your size. 'Oh well' you say to yourself 'they don't seem too small, I'm sure the previous owner has stretched them, they'll be OK to wear a few times' ... no, they won't, they will hurt your feet and remain unworn in your wardrobe, and probably end up back in the op shop.
20. Be open minded
Do not buy unnecessarily, but do push the boundaries a little. Try on things you would never think of trying before, you might be surprised at colours and shapes that suit you. The beauty of op shopping, along with being environmentally friendly, is value for money. You can experiment a little more with fashion as it doesn't cost the earth. Go op shopping with your friend/s, make a day of it, don't take it too seriously, have a bit of fun with your recycled fashion.
Photograph c/o we heart it