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 understand their hesitations. Scouring through racks upon racks of clothes that aren’t organised by size, style or sometimes, even colour can be overwhelming. 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, 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 ‘I can never find good stuff at op shops and markets’
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!
Chose your op shop
The quality and price of op shops has a lot to do with where you find them! Try shops in affluent suburbs, or shops in the outer suburbs or small towns – these haven’t been shopped out 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.
Op-shopping takes a little longer than shopping in a department store where everything is neatly laid ordered in size, colour and style. But that’s half the fun! 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.
Look for vintage gems
If you’ve found something amazing but it’s not quite the right style or fit, ask yourself if you could make some minor alterations or take it to your tailor.
Always try on
If you’re going for a day of op shopping, always wear clothes you can easily slip on and off, as you’ll want to try on everything. Don’t get tempted to buy something you havent tried on 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. If you’re looking for something specific, it’s best to go in with an open mind otherwise you might be disappointed
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?
For more information on National Opshop Week, visit www.opshopweek.com.au