Op-shopping has many advantages - it means guilt free spending, a creative adventure, it is environmentally ethical, charitable and, if you're smart about it, a great way to find a unique piece no one else has. Over the years I have learned how to op-shop effectively to fill the gaps in my wardrobe and score one off pieces which I treasure for years. I've worked out, through trial and error, what to look for and what to avoid whether that be fit, fabric or how to dodge the fancy dress items. If you know what to look for, pre-loved shopping can be the best way to update your wardrobe and have a lot of fun along the way.
This is the most important thing to look for when op-shopping. When sifting through the racks of colours, patterns and cuts the one thing to keep an eye out for is quality fabric. The best fabrics are durable, breathable and stand the test of time. Op-shops are overflowing with acrylic, fast fashion and while you may spot something cute, if it is nylon, man made or a lousy fabric blend, it will cause you to sweat, it will be static prone and you will end up sending it straight back to the clothing bin. You can usually pick a good fabric just from sight but you may need to feel the item or check the tag on the inside.
When shopping pre-loved, you will need to understand that you will have to be flexible with fit. Certain items will work best in a more generous fit while others must be fitted and tailored. If something requires alterations leave it on the rack, you will never get around to this and it will end up sitting in your wardrobe taking up space.
- Oversized t-shirts & button up shirts, oversized blazers (provided the shoulders fit). This will create an effortless, relaxed look
- Tailored pants, skirts and dresses often look for oversized items when shopping pre-loved. With these items a good fit is essential and a classic cut will ensure the item will work season after season.
Kitsch, Classic or Cool
When shopping vintage there are three avenues to explore. You will likely be one "type" of these three camps and it is important to stick to your style and not deviate - go into an op-shop like it is a normal store and shop for you, your taste and your style.
- Kitch. This means embracing the quirky vintage vibe full throttle. You want to appear as though you have been shopping vintage and are proud of it...think patchwork, old school high waisted denim, tie die tops, novelty details, metallic, twin sets, anything goes as long as it is quirky.
- Classic. This is all about pared back, modern pieces which wont necessarily look vintage at all...think 90's slip dresses, button up shirts, mom jeans and boyfriend blazers.
- Cool. Think edgy, confident and fashion forward. You will source one of a kind rocker tee's, distressed jeans, leather jackets, essentially ultra cool pieces that shout fashionista.
Scan The Racks
Often op-shops are overflowing with items and it can literally take hours to shop an entire vintage store. You need to train your eye to scan for the quality, standout pieces hiding in the mess.
-Structure. A strong shoulder, boning in a dress, darts in a shirt, a designer label, pockets and clever details. This will mean the item is well designed and worth taking home.
-Texture. Interesting fabrics will make a great statement, this applies to metallics, cable knits, embroidery, lace, leather and silk
- Crazy colours
- Cheap fabrics
- Flimsy singlets
Have Fun With Accessories
There are always stacks of bags, gloves, jewellery and hats sitting in pre-loved stores. This is a great place to have fun and collect some truly special items. It is also a great place to grab some things you find beautiful even if they won't get much wear - such as embroidered gloves, anything glow mesh or a classic belt. Some collectables might not be great for the everyday but will give you joy just from looking at them. That is the name of the game - joy, fun and experimentation.
- Silk Scarves to tie on bags, in your hair, through your belt loops or any way you want to wear them
- Gloves, hats, bags, belts
-Jewellery chances are it isn't good quality and will leave your skin irritated