5 tips for op-shopping for fashion

Buying second fashion in opportunity shops is easy to do, but if you want to maximise your time and money wisely, here are a few tips I will suggest to help you find your bargains:

1. Carefully check a garment before buying

I’ve lost count of the amount of times I have purchased a second-hand piece, only to find stains, tears or holes in its fabric when I get home.

Some clothes are unfortunately donated for a reason; because they are damaged (note – please don’t donate damaged clothes!).  Small faults can be hard to spot and overlooked by op shop staff, which is why we sometimes find damaged clothes for sale on the shop floor.

Faulty clothing isn’t a problem if you can mend it, remove the stain, or refashion the piece into something else, but can be a waste of money if you can’t.

2. Know your labels

If you seek out quality fashion labels, it will be worth the investment.  Designer pieces are usually made with good quality fabric, and are made to last.

Even if you decide after wearing your thrifted designer piece that it is not really for you, you could well get your money back plus more, should you decide to sell it.

3. Invest in a sewing machine

If you don’t own a sewing machine, now is the time to get one.  The ability to make a minor adjustment on a second-hand clothing purchase will open up a whole new world of op shopping.

A simple hem modification, length adjustment, or taking in a garment is relatively easy to do without training, and will mean you no longer have to reject clothing that is not quite your size.

No need to rush out and buy a brand new sewing machine, first ask friends and family members if they own a machine they no longer use, otherwise look on eBay or Gumtree for second-hand machines.  Occasionally (but rarely) you might even be lucky enough to find a second-hand sewing machine in an op shop.

4. Shop midweek

Most people do not get a chance to donate their unwanted goods to op shops until the weekend, when many stores either close early, or do not have enough staff or time to sort through donations.

Mondays and Tuesdays will be the chance when op shop volunteers are able to sort through newly donated goods; therefore mid week will see fresh stock for sale on the op shop floor.  Plus, midweek is usually much quieter for op shopping anyway.

5. Dedicate a day to op shopping

Rather than rushing through an op shop during your lunch break, or a quick peek in your local charity shop whilst making a quick dash to the Post Office, dedicate one full day to op shopping instead. You’ll be in the right frame of mind, and have the time to rummage.

Join an organised op shop tour if one exists in your city, that way you won’t need to waste time seeking hidden away op shops, just tag along for a shopping ride.  If op shop tour operators do not run in your area, write down a list of the op shops you intend to visit, with addresses on hand if you need.  From personal experience, approximately 6 or 7 op shops is a reasonable limit for a day dedicated to second-hand shopping.

I trust you find these tips useful, but remember not to get too disappointed if you leave empty handed.  One shopping trip may leave you with abundant new-to-you clothes for your wardrobe; another trip may result in nothing at all.  There is always an element of luck with second-hand shopping.

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Written by Erica, Recycled-Fashion, 6 June 2013
Erica lives in Melbourne, Australia, a few minutes walk from one of Port Phillip Bay’s most beautiful white sandy beaches. She lives with her husband, 4yr old son, another child on the way, and rescued black cat.

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