In desperate need of some smart clothes for work, but not really in a financial position to go for a big shopping spree, I again this week decided to hit the op shops and ''recycled/preloved boutiques'' in my neighbourhood, as well as trawl trade me and the chain stores for a bargain or two.
I spent an afternoon going through my existing wardrobe and managed to fill one of those massive red and white stripey bags with things that no longer fitted or I didn't care for any more (and yes, the odd ill-thought-out impulse buy). This reduced my wardrobe by about half - I don't have a huge amount of stuff anyway.
Then I made a bit of an inventory and a wishlist for what I needed - I knew I needed some pants for work, at least one or two skirts and a few tops for under winter jackets. This making-a-list stage is a bit onerous but knowing I would be getting a whole new wardrobe for not much more than most people spend on one or two items has convinced me this is time well spent.
I set aside a morning to ''do the shops''. Added a few things I wanted to my TradeMe wishlist. Had a second whizz around the shops a few days later. And I'm done. That's about as much as my brain, and feet, can handle anyway.
A quick add-up shows I've spent all up about $150, plus splashing out $25 on a new pair of shoes - only expected to last a season and dress up only. (One thing I do usually spend good money on is shoes).
So in my wardrobe I now have added
- 1 pair of dress trousers
- 3 jackets - 1 very smart for work, 2 casual
- 2 scarves and 1 wrap
- 3 upmarket long sleeve tops
- 2 short sleeve tops and 2 sleeveless ones - save these for summer!
- 2 shirts suitable for work and 2 vintage ones just for fun
- 2 evening dresses
- 1 boiled wool hoodie
- 1 almost new red leather bag
..and a handful of other things that have made it in there too...
Nearly everything was either new or almost new, and most had good quality brands/labels - many from overseas.
Yes it takes some time to find things that are the right size or style. But it really is amazing what is available if you look - and often there are designer labels, new season, or never worn clothing at a fraction of retail price. I'm choosy - unless something fits perfectly I don't buy it, and unless the style is exactly right for me, it stays on the rack for someone else to enjoy. I also don't buy things that I consider others might need seasonally - warm coats, rain jackets etc. And I never ever ever buy preloved shoes, nightwear or underwear.
I do like to collect unusual vintage clothing but am very picky about this - I apply similar rules as below regarding styles, fit, colours and price and have got some amazing things in my collection now. I'll share this in another post.
Top 10 tips for buying preloved
- know what suits you (colour, style) and spend less time trawling.
- even though things will appear incredibly cheap, still have a budget and price limit
- don't buy cheap brand clothes unless it's a must have - often they are priced similarly on sale in the actual store
- have a shopping list (avoid impulse buys) and when you've got all you want, stop looking! (unless this is your hobby, then that's different;)).
- look carefully for damage and avoid where possible but if you're the creative type do consider how something great could be remade, re-buttoned or hems changed
- apply the one in/one out rule to your wardrobe so you don't over do it and end up with even more things you'll never wear
- follow your own rules and package up your own unwanted things for the stores you buy from. Apply the same courtesies and wash/mend things before you donate them. Don't send in rubbish!
- wear easy to get in to/ out of clothes and shoes to shop in and neutral, conservative underwear. A lot of these shops have very small (and loose curtained!) change spaces. The simpler your clothes, and the fewer number of layers you have the better.
- get your kids into this. My daughter thinks it's awesome to be able to spend $5 and get a whole new outfit.