When I talk about op-shopping with my fellow op-shop devotees, I often hear people say that although they shop almost exclusively at opshops for their everyday clothes, when it comes to shopping for weddings, parties and special events, they head back to the shopping mall.
I’m not going to tut-tut anyone for doing so, I understand it can be a challenge to find the right outfit from an op-shop for a special occasion, but friends, it can be done! At this years close I will have attended two weddings. My brother got married a few weeks ago (to a chef, smart move!) and my cousin will marry later in the year. My op-shopped dresses for these two events cost no more than $15 each.
If you think that op-shopping for a special occasion is a waste of time, I hope that this post will help you to reconsider. The next time a wedding or special event comes around, be adventurous and try your luck at the op-shops instead of the mall. To assist you in this quest, I’ve put together a few tips to help you find that something special. It will take more of your time, but it will also save you a lot of money!
1. Don’t expect to find your outfit in a single visit.
Perhaps you will get lucky on your first try (if you follow tip number 2!), but maybe you won’t. Don’t be discouraged if the later is the case. The great thing about weddings is that you receive plenty of notice, so whenever you hit the op-shops in the months prior you can keep an eye out for that something special. Op-shop stock is ever changing. If you’re a regular op-shopper, persistence pays.
2. Shop in a location with many op-shops.
Are you up for some hard-core op-shopping? Of course you are! If you’re someone who is unable to visit op-shops on a regular basis, another good approach is to set aside an entire day or half-day to hit all the op-shops in a given area(s) at the same time. Ringwood, in Melbourne’s outer east, is one of my favourite places to op-shop. It has three good op/recycled clothing stores situated very close together (Vinnies, Salvos and Savers). Take a friend, make a day of it!
3. Look at clothing of all sizes
Although I am a size 10-12, the op-shop clothes in my wardrobe are tagged from a size 8 to 16. Size tags aren’t meaningless but they are not always a good indication of whether an item will fit you. So when you browse the racks, don’t just look on the rack labelled your usual size. The dress I bought for my cousin’s formal wedding is size ‘S’. I am certainly not an S, but due to the style of the dress it (just!) fits nicely.
4. Look at Maternity and Formal Wear.
Some op-shops have a maternity section, don’t ignore it! Even though I’m not pregnant, the dress I wore to my brother’s wedding is actually a maternity dress! The dress didn’t seem to have much room for a baby bump so it hung on me just like a normal dress. If you’re shaped like me, one size on top and larger size below the waist, you might find that a maternity dress is a better fit for your body than a “non-maternity” dress. The formal wear rack is worth a look as well, sometimes the items are not quite as formal as you might expect.
5. Refashion, Renew (Learn to Sew)
Sometimes you find a gorgeous garment that isn’t quite right. The straps are wrong, the length is too long, it has long sleeves when you want short. You could put the garment back on the the rack OR you could take it home and restyle it to suit your needs. This is often the case for vintage items, sometimes the fabric or print is perfect but the styling is a bit out of date. Check out ReFashionista for inspiration!
Do you op-shop for special occasions? Do you have success?