Buying clothes on the cheap has never been so fun.
Op shops are magical places of wonderment for all aspects of life. They are an eclectic mix of clothes, books, knick knacks, shoes, more clothes, and weird house décor items that seem to always involve some kind of floral pattern.
These stores are incredibly unique and offer shoppers a strange array of things to look at, try on, and even buy. An op shop gives you the most amazing opportunity to find something truly one of a kind. The huge perks of an op shop for uni students is the low prices ft. feeling good about donating to charity and saving clothing from landfill.
I am a HUGE op shop fan myself and often come across people who are quite afraid of the whole situation. People who are intimidated by the colossal rows of unorganised items, and averse to the idea of dresses that “someone has died in”. Whilst some of these things are very much true, they are remarkably easy to overcome and with a few hot tips you too will be running around in some cute-ass shorts from Vinnies.
Goals are hard
In my experience, shopping at op shops with a specific goal in mind is nigh on impossible and often leads to extensive disappointment. Going into a store in an effort to find a red dress will be a challenge, but you will surely find a bizarre Christmas jumper without even trying. It is truly all about luck of the draw, you can’t rely on them like you would a normal retail store. Give them some time and patience and you will learn which places suit you and which don’t. Not all op-shops are made the same, they actually differ more than you think. You won’t always find what you’re looking for, and that’s okay! Embrace the uncertainty and be open to the idea of finding something fantastic that you weren’t necessarily focussing on.
Patterns! Colours! Wow!
Op-shops are organised in a very simplistic way. You want pants? Here are three rows of all items that could come under the categories of pants! Are we sorted by size, shape, or colour? Not even a little bit. This is where your love for patterns and colours comes in. Your eyes will naturally fall on pieces that are in a colour or pattern that you like, use it! Don’t waste time looking at every single item, you will lose your mind that way. Run your hands along the fabric, pick out something you like the look of and then check the size/shape. Nine times out of ten this will be an effective way to get you items you like and would want to buy. Making sure they look good and fit is another matter entirely, but there are easy fixes for that.
Fix It, Twist It, Pull It, Bop It
Just because jeans have a wonky zip, or a skirt is too big doesn’t mean it isn’t worth buying. If you’re handy with a needle and thread you can always add buttons, remove sleeves and take off that weird ruffly bit to make a piece of clothing work for you. If sewing is just the last thing you want to do, take it to a tailor! A $4 dress + tailoring to fit you just right is worth every penny.
Additionally, a shirt doesn’t always have to be a shirt my friends. Always be on the lookout for pieces that can have another life. Sometimes an op shop pair of pants would work way better as shorts, and that dress with the ghastly bottom section can be cut to just be a top. Be creative and see clothes past their original use, you may be surprised at what you can transform.
Boys, Boys, Boys
Hello boys, I hope you’ve made it this far in the piece, and if you have – welcome.
The vast majority of op shops will have only a tiny section dedicated to men’s styles of clothing – and for that I am truly sorry. The problem with the op shop market is that it relies heavily on the shopping habits of the masses, which is predominantly led by female consumers. The fast turnaround of fashion seasons and trends means that women’s clothing are very likely to end up in op shops more often. That’s not to say there isn’t men’s stuff, you just have to be open minded. The coolest thing about op shops is you will likely find items that no one else has, embrace that and add a funky Hawaiian shirt to your wardrobe. Dress pants and casual shirts are fantastic at op shops and will only need a quick tailor to get them looking good on your bod – don’t give up hope!
Best Op Shops in Perth
Keen to get started on your op-shopping journey? Here are some hot places to visit:
North of the River – Good Sammy’s and Salvos (Selby Street, Osborne Park)
Both of these op shops are a haven for homewares and clothes. Be prepared to rifle through excessive racks, but the lucky finds are real winners.
Freoooo – Good Sammy’s, Anglicare, Vinnies, Salvos, Reloved Fashion (all on High Street)
This hub of op shops is just way too convenient to pass up. Some of them will have their prices a bit higher for the richer market, but you’re sure to find a steal at at least one of the stores.
GT Lovers – Vinnies (Claremont)
Don’t want to leave the comfort of the GT? Never fear, this Vinnies is small but has some definite hidden treasures in it.
Big Boys Only – Mega Barn (Canning Vale)
Gird your loins if you’re planning to tackle this place. Clothes and accessories are dumped in HUGE crates which have zero organisation to them whatsoever. Grab a trolley and dive through to find some wickedly weird pieces – plus the price is calculated by weight.
Frances Harvey | @frances_harvey
Frances is studying fashion and is sustained entirely through tea and 80s music