I had a major sort out in the wardrobe last week (yes, another one). I was ruthless - removed lots of clothes I haven't worn in ages, things I wasn't sure about, things that needed mending. It was quite horrifying how many impulse buys went on the discard pile (along with a favourite top that somehow got caught up and ended at the op shop too but that's another story...).
The upshot was that the wardrobe looked a whole lot emptier (I have a rail just a bit bigger than a single wardrobe and a 3 drawer chest). So, what better thing to do, than have an attempt at filling it again.
I discovered the joy of op shop/preloved/vintage clothing when I found myself a single parent with not a whole lot of money. It's now become my main source of shopping, and after a few mistakes along the way I have developed a few rules. I am not ashamed to tell people of my latest bargains, and many have asked for my secrets in unearthing some of the treasures, so here they are
TOP TEN SECRETS FOR SHOPPING FOR PRE-LOVED CLOTHING
1. Start with the working out your style exercise. I discovered Trinny and Susannah and follow the rules religiously. Now I can scan a shop rail and know very quickly if there is anything I will want to buy. I stick to certain colours and styles and rarely move from them. It can be boring but it's also reliable and saves time and money, and fashion disasters....
2. Don't shop by brand necessarily, but learn which ones suit you in terms of cut and style. This also helps you avoid mistakes. And means you will quickly find those brands on a crowded rack. I am a bit of a label snob and am always drawn to more high end brands, and the reality is that they simply are better quality. That said, many of them simply don't suit me. This particularly applies to skirts and jeans - when cut is crucial - and then you can often get some real bargains. I recently bought Hartleys jeans for $15 which still had a new tag stating $129 on them. I also watch for English brands which are invariable better quality than their kiwi counterparts (I especially like Jigsaw, Wallis and River Island)
3. Be choosy about fabric. Don't buy anything that is even slightly scruffy or worn. It will always feel second hand. Where ever possible avoid synthetics too. They almost always smell second hand. Forever. Ick.
4. Even though something might only be costing $5 don't buy it unless you love it. Apply the same rules as if you were paying full retail price. Trust me, a bargain is not a bargain if it never gets worn.
5. Always keep your price limits back of mind. I will not pay more than $12 for anything, other than a dress and even then my upper limit is always $15. Otherwise I might as well wait for a sale and buy new. My average purchase price is $7.
6. If you're creative, look at something that might be able to be reworked - hem altered or accessory added
7. Always keep one eye out for fantastic vintage buys. Some stores specialise in them and there are some incredible bargains. I have a small collection of gorgeous things I may never wear but represent moments in time.
8. Shop little and often, and have two lists in mind - firstly, things you need that go with what you already have, and secondly special occasion things. Because these are less common in shops you need to grab when you can.
9. Tell others about the shops you visit. The more customers they have the more stock they seem to carry.
10. Don't write off a dusty old op shop that doesn't look appealing from the outside. These ones often carry the best finds.