When I was a teenager and had no money, I would scour op shops buying cheap clothes. Baggy brown corduroys, polyester men’s shirts, retro blouses, kitschy handbags and anything that caught my eye.
Many years later, my love for op shops, thrift stores, junk emporiums, whatever you call it, has only intensified to the point where my pulse quickens just seeing a Salvation army store or hospice shop. Seriously, I am a magpie junky treasure seeker.
For me it’s the thrill of the chase, being rewarded by patience, finding something no-one else has, or spotting the hidden value in something by knowing how to alter it or pair it with something else in a cool way.
Here are some tips if you are inspired….
1) Watch the quality of materials. Always go for real wool or linen or 100% cotton, wood over plastic, leather instead of vinyl, if possible, you get the picture. For example, a fabulous magenta coat in a minimal shape with large buttons is tempting, but not if it’s mostly polyester.
2) Be reasonable about how stained is ‘too stained’. I bought an incredible green sateen 1940′s dress for my brother’s wedding and brushed over the fact that it was badly discoloured/faded in several areas, (not to mention it was so tight that I could barely move my ribcage to breathe once it was zipped up.) My mother pointblank refused to let me keep it and I while I hate to admit it – she was right. Back to the shop I went.
3) On the other hand, small holes or other signs of age can lend a devilish maverick edge to your outfit. Inhabit the spirit of the outfit. Attitude is everything.
3) Go for classic/quirky pieces rather than last seasons castoffs or copies. There is usually a reason someone has passed something on
4)Mentally isolate items when you look at them. Train your eye to hone in on good design, good craftsmanship or unique features. A brightly hand-painted salad bowl with might look tacky on a table filled with cheap crockery, but it could be the star player amongst a collection of white tableware.
5) Don’t lose your head! Yes everything is relatively cheap, but if it doesn’t fit, it makes you sweat, it doesn’t go with anything else you own or you don’t need it – then DON’T buy it. Similarly, if you adore the item but have to rack your brain to think of how you can fit it into your life, then let it go.
6) Be generous in your donations. Let the karmic circle enrich someone else’s op shop experience man!