A fashion editor’s guide to mastering the op-shop

Want to know the secrets to scoring a designer find without the price tag?

Want to know the secrets to scoring a designer find without the price tag?

Constantly keeping up with all the changing trends and brands is tough- and expensive. Luckily for us, vintage is always in season. It’s important to remember that fashion goes in cycles. By the time something ends up in an op-shop it can be on the verge of a comeback. And the chance to scoop up luxury items at bargain prices is a very real thing when it comes to op-shopping. Not only are the chances of have a “twin-styling” moment with someone practically zero, you’ll also be helping out a charity in need. Two birds with one stone.

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Of course we’re not just talking about the Vinnies and Salvos of the world. Brisbane has a wide variety of stores to choose from. The thrift scene is ever growing with even more thrift stores, vintage markets and clothing swap events popping up all over the place. With a bit of research, you will be sure to find a store to suit your style.

Here we’ve put together a guide to pre-loved purchasing. You’ll be rocking your stylish vintage threads and modestly thanking everyone for their outfit compliments in no time.

1. Know the lay of the land

If you’re familiar with doing the casual department store perusal, then hitting up an op-shop can be very overwhelming. Stock is often displayed in a way that could be considered cramped. But, in fact, op shop stock is usually organised into specific categories. Be methodical when working your way through the stock. The most amazing finds tend to be discovered with patience- and usually at the bottom of the pile!

2. Be prepared

It’s always a good idea to go through your wardrobe before visiting an op-shop. You don’t want to save something from the fashion landfill only for you to find it six months later at the bottom of your draw. You’ll end up guiltily returning it the op-shop without having received any use from it.

Pro tip: not all op shops will have eftpos facilities so it’s a good idea to have enough cash. You don't want to get out at caught at the register and have to leave your new found goodies behind.

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Want to know the secrets to scoring a designer find without the price tag?

3. Don’t stick to your gender or age

With so much stock on the floor, sometimes things can get categorised wrong. A thorough treasure hunt should involve searching all sections of an op-shop – childrenswear, menwear, womenwear, and all sizes. Chances are you will find something great that may have been overlooked.

4. Look for quality

Just because you’re buying second hand doesn’t mean you have to skimp on quality. You don’t have to be an expert in fabric but by having a feel you will be able to tell if the fabric is of quality or not. A handy tip is to hold the item to daylight- the quality of the fabric will be more noticeable in sunlight.

Pro tip: When going through clothing, be picky. Does it look old and worn? Is it in good condition? Is it missing any embellishments such as buttons and are the zips working? Is it a colour that will go with other things in your wardrobe? Does it fit properly? Are there any defects?

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Remember to keep going back. Chances are you won’t find that vintage designer on your first try. Fashion blogger Laura Timberlake once found a Gucci bag for $30 at a Salvo’s. Patience and persistence are the keys to successful shopping. You never know what you might find.

Words: Jade Byers-Pointer