6 steps to the perfect Op Shop

My sister has this running joke with me where she thinks I don’t actually shop from op shops. She says I probably pay full retail price for everything and then just tell her it cost $1 from the Salvos. Hilarious! But not true.

I’ve been an avid op-shopper now for ages. It started when I was I was teenager and has pretty much continued throughout my life. It’s probably some ‘bower-bird’ gene that was passed down from my parents, who are the world’s luckiest hard rubbish collectors. Seriously, I often question whether they found those Danish chairs by the side of the road or whether someone left them there for a minute while they were moving other stuff inside!

In all seriousness though, op- shopping does require a few golden rules. It’s not for everyone and it’s not for the faint hearted. You need a certain level of perseverance and aerobic ability (the latter for balancing on one leg while holding a stack of coats and shoes in order to reach that perfect vase on that top shelf!)

Just today the op shop fairies were smiling down on me and presented me with these 3 lovelies.

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A brand new, with tags ASOS jacket. A ghetto gold pendant. A hand painted wooden tray. A grand total of $25!! A great score wouldn’t you say? So, here are my tips for a successful op-shop:

1) Look for quality fabric. A lot of times you will need to sift through many blouses, shirts and jumpers to find a gem. By gem I mean a piece of clothing that is in fantastic condition and is made from a good fabric. Stay away from cheap fabrics and look for merino wool, cashmere, silk and 100% cottons. Just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean it has to be nasty.

2) Look for something unique and quirky that you’re attracted to. We can all go to a chain store and buy a great pair of earrings but there’s nothing more exciting or beautiful than discovering a one-off unique piece, whether it’s jewellery, a bag or a fabulous painting. Go with your gut. Sometimes I’m drawn to the strangest things-but they are usually the most beautiful!

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3) Look for new clothing, especially with tags. A lot of people will donate clothing they have bought online that didn’t fit properly or they didn’t like. Likewise many clothing stores will donate end of season runs, or excess stock to many op shops. Look out for them – you will be surprised at how much you will save!

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4) Look for brands that you know and love. If you’re into vintage clothing, keep an eye out for labels from the 60’s and 70’s. Most often this clothing is made from durable and quality fabric so chances are the clothing will be in good nick. Also look out for great pieces from local designers like Zimmerman, Sass and Bide, Fiona Scanlan etc. I’ve often picked up designer wear for a fraction of the cost. Whatever you do though look at the style of the item. Look carefully at those Diesel jeans- are they flared at the bottom? Toss them. Look at the shape of the sleeves on that shirt. Go for pieces that are timeless not just designer.

5) Do not buy anything just because it’s cheap! A $5 pair of shoes are not a bargain if they’re not your size and are ugly. They are a bargain if they’re what you’re looking for and are in great condition. Check the soles and the heels carefully. If they’ve been worn to an inch of their life- don’t even think about it. Leave them. Do not buy any item of clothing that is not your colour or doesn’t suit your body shape.

6) Most importantly- leave your judgement at the door. If you’ve never been inside an op shop because you think it’s all old and smelly stock then you’ve really been missing out. Op shops these days hire staff, visual merchandisers and do not accept just any old thing. Give it a go- I promise you’ll love it!

Go op-shopping and reduce your carbon footprint. Do your part in reducing, reusing and recycling. You can shop without a guilty conscious. In fact, you’ll actually be helping the environment by not partaking in the whole consumer lifestyle that leads to tonnes and tonnes of unwanted clothes and items being used for landfill! Go on, op shop till you drop! Good luck and be sure to share your finds with me. X

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