The trend forecasts are in. Fast-fashion and all its convenient, trendy glory is on its way out. This industry has been deemed one of the worst for our environment and people all over the planet are boycotting as it just isn’t worth our dollar any longer!
But um… we still gotta wear clothes. Cool, stylish and trendy clothes, that is. The alternatives to fast fashion are one of two things: slow (expensive) handcrafted, ethical clothing brands, or scouring through (cheap) op shops! For most of us, the latter is a more sensible option.
Op shops may seem like a real hassle to shop at—may seem near impossible to find a grail or something even remotely trendy at these places. We’re here to give you some sure-fire tips and tricks to make sure your next op-shopping trip is successful!
Never neglect the men’s section, ladies.
Clothing is becoming more and more unisex every season, and it’s about time we got rid of the stigmas behind shopping in the men’s section. In reality, this is where you’re most likely to find some ‘holy grail’ designer threads that someone, somewhere bought their dad for their birthday in the wrong size – making it worn only once. It’s also where you’ll find the comfiest pair of high waisted pants that you just need to take in a few notches to have the perfect, oversized look.
That ‘grandpa’ aesthetic that you saw in the shop window of Glassons this winter didn’t just emerge out of nowhere. We’re pretty sure it was inspired from the men’s section of your local Red Cross Shop.
Look out for these pieces in the men’s section:
- Levi’s jeans (they never wear out)
- Ralph Loren Polo’s (thanks, grandpa!)
- Oversized shirts with a unique print
- Vintage Doc Martins or other work boots
- The warmest coats, denim jackets or windbreakers you’ll ever find.
Look for potential in good fabrics
A funky texture or a quality fabric will turn an average long-sleeve top into a unique piece that you can treasure for months. Keep an eye out for high-quality fabrics like knit, velvet or silk and the garment is probably a keeper. You can pair these pieces with the basic cotton staples you have in your wardrobe, and they’ll most likely always result in a look that’s stylish and out of the ordinary.
The best part about looking for textures—over simply finding the perfect cut or colour—is that you can easily find yourself branching out of your regular fashion sense. This is a sure-fire way to take fashion risks that work! You can overlook restrains like a skirt being a different length to what’s ‘trendy’ or a neckline being different to what you’re used to seeing in stores.
Textured fabrics we love:
- Shot silk
- Ribbed or corduroy anything!
- Delicate lace (check it isn’t laddered first!)
- Quality wool—it was probably handmade!
- Suede—for the cool 70s vibes
Don’t get stuck on a particular ‘look’
The worst thing you can do for yourself in an op shop is to go in with a preconceived idea of what you want to find. Think about how ridiculous this is—op shops are first and foremost a place to pick up unique, individual clothing items. They’re not going to have that perfect pair of red pants you’ve been searching for, for ages. If you have this mindset, more often than not, you’ll end up walking out empty-handed.
A much better way to approach an op-shopping trip is to keep your ideas broad and your mind open. Thinking, ‘I need an outfit to wear tonight’ but not limiting your search any more than that is a good start. The best way to ensure you’ll come out with lots of things (too many? Never…) is to think ‘I want new things’. That’s all. No preconceptions. That approach can manifest some new additions to your wardrobe that you never knew you would own, but that you end up wearing all the time.
Try not to be scared of a dud find
Op shops are cheap as chips, so you should never be so picky as to limit yourself by wondering ‘will I actually wear this?’. You know what they say—if the shoe fits, buy it! (at least that’s what we say now). If you buy something for $2 that you thought was cool, but didn’t end up wearing all year, you can always just donate it to another op shop and you only lost $2.
On the other hand, you could be hesitant about an item that’s pretty risky compared to your fashion sense, but if you don’t pick it up anyway, how will you know if you’ll wear it? Being scared of a dud find can hold you back from some great fashion opportunities, so take that step outside of your comfort zone when you op shop.
Don’t be scared of:
- That long, slinky dress that you don’t have an occasion for
- The plunge neckline top that’s a little more revealing than you’re used to
- Those flared pants that might look too 70s for work
- Another black long-sleeve that’s in the 50c rack
Throw yourself in the deep end
Unless you’re an expert, op shopping is definitely not an in-and-out activity. Set aside a Saturday morning to hit up a few op shops in an area. They tend to cluster in the outer suburbs of Auckland, so find an area with at least three or four and venture out to spend some serious time there.
When you get to the op shops, get ready to scour. Every. Coat hanger. You’re not going to find anything interesting by skimming over the racks – you’ve got to get right in there in every section of the store. Pick out anything that tickles your fancy and then you can go through the elimination process when you try things on. It’s a lengthy process, but trust me, it’s worth it.
Op shopping can feel like effort for a lot of us, but on this journey to combat fast fashion, it’s the only way to thrive and be stylish. We hope this list of tips and tricks has made you feel a little bit better about your upcoming op-shopping trip!
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