Happy Halloween! Once upon a time, the only time I visited an op shop was around this time of the year, when I was trying to put together a fancy dress costume. Wow, how times have changed! Today I’m sharing what can be considered a ‘beginner’s guide to thrifting’, of sorts.
[Image credit – Style Bee]
It’s no secret that, these days, I’m a big fan of thrifting. Probably close to three-quarters of the items in my wardrobe are thrifted, and I’m forever responding, ‘it’s from an op shop’ when someone compliments me on an outfit.
But I’ve never thought of myself as ‘good’ at thrifting. Truth be told, I’ve always envied people who can walk into an op shop and pick up amazing vintage finds, or chop and hem and change something thrifted into something one-of-a-kind.
That’s not me.
I don’t really have the time or patience to do much of that and, sometimes, I struggle to even conceptualise how it can be done. Over the years I’ve learned that this is one approach to thrifting. So I shelved the idea that this is the way thifting should be done and now I just do my own thing. Which kind of looks like this: I treat an op shop like a regular store. I walk in (armed with an idea of what gaps I want to fill in my wardrobe) look around, browse the racks, try stuff on, and maybe buy it if it fits and looks good and I like it. It sounds alarmingly simple – and it is. But this was A Really Foreign Concept to me once upon a time when I found thrifting overwhelming. So if you’re just starting out thrifting and feel like this too, here is where I recommend you make a beeline for the best off-the-rack finds:
You know how ‘a white button-up’ makes every ’10 Wardrobe Essentials’ list? Well, it seems a lot of people have taken that advice to heart. Thrift stores are chock full of shirts. Mens’ shirts, women’s shirts, blouses. You name it, and they are there in abundance.
There are a few reasons why this is awesome for the new thrifter. Firstly, the thrift shop is a wondrous land where you are browsing shirts from all eras, in all sizes… feel free to even shop in the men’s shirts section without feeling judged. This means you can really play around in finding the style of shirt that suits you best. Over the years I’ve played around with cotton and silk; hemlines and volume; cuffs and collars. I’ve worked out what I like with a pencil skirt for an office environment, or over jeans for coffee, or over a bikini for the beach.
Secondly, beautiful crisp cotton shirts are usually expensive to buy new, and they stand the test of time. So, picking them up from the op shop will save you a decent amount of money for a shirt that is still in top condition. And you can spend the money you save on getting the shirt tailored to fit you better if you want.
As with shirts, the range of jeans in op shops is phenomenal. You can try jeans of all vintages, styles, sizes and washes and find what works for you. Also – and I know I touted this post as a hack for buying off-the-rack, but – secondhand jeans are perfect for making DIY cutoffs. Try a pair of ‘mom jeans’ or men’s jeans so they are looser in the leg when you chop them off.
[Image credit – Style Bee]
3. Black trousers
At the risk of sounding like a broken record… oh, the range! I’ve picked up black trousers by amazing brands in a multitude of cuts – wide leg trousers, cigarette trousers, straight leg trousers. I always check the label and choose wool over polyester blends for better quality and durability.
You don’t want to spend a lot on costume jewellery? Yeah, me neither. The good news, my friends, is that in an op shop, you don’t have to! Pick and choose from the epic range of necklaces, rings and bracelets ’til your heart’s content!
Equally, you can find some amazing vintage jewellery at op shops for a really decent price – look for the stuff tucked away in cabinets.
When I first started thrifting, the shoe section was a No Go Area. To be honest, I found the whole concept of wearing someone else’s old shoes weird and yuck. So I stayed away until the day I was desperate for a new pair of boots and wandered over to examine what was on offer in the op shop shoe section, thinking that a sock barrier between the boots and my feet might be sufficient to guard against the gross-factor.
Well, it turns out a lot of people donate brand new or near-to-new shoes! I have a theory about this. Have you ever found a pair of shoes that you just loved and had to have but the store didn’t have your size? So you bought the pair that was a little too big or small for you hoping that you could just make it work? Back in my fast fashion days, I definitely did this more than once. Inevitably, you end up wearing them only a few times, or not at all, because you really can’t make it work. And so you donate the shoes to the thrift store.
A win for us thrifters! Over the years, I have bought brand new (still with tags!) ballet flats, boots, sneakers, high heels and sandals from high-quality brands – all for $10 or less. I now always make sure to browse the shoe section, just in case ;)
What are your favourite items to pick up from the op shop?