Have you ever noticed that those people with the most enviable personal style don’t dress head to toe in any one designer? They mix and match between designer, high street and vintage to create looks entirely their own. Kate Moss does this better than anyone. She practically invented this approach to dressing in a modern context. But lets face it; we don’t all have Kate Moss’s fashion connections or bank account. So how can the average person start to build a wardrobe of clothes unique to them?
The cheapest and easiest, not to mention most environmentally friendly, way to add an individual element to your wardrobe is by integrating vintage and second hand pieces. Op shops shops have long been the favourite haunt of students, hipsters and bargain hunters looking for cheap, unique pieces. But don’t be intimidated; op shops are the perfect place for absolutely anyone to find something different than the mainstream fast-fashion offering found in your local shopping centre while diverting textile waste from landfill to boot.
If you are looking for something specific in an op shop you are likely to be disappointed. Op Shopping is for finding things you never knew you wanted. It is about trying anything and everything and being pleasantly surprised with what you come across. You can build an entire outfit of op shop pieces like our thrifty friends Nikki Hogan and Nina Gbor, or use op shop finds as hero pieces, mixed in with your existing wardrobe.
Consider these tips while Op shopping:
- Look for unique fabrics, cuts and colours. Fabrics like leather, wool, tweed and brocade last really well and op shops are a great place to pick them up cheap. Also look for bold cuts, bright colours and patterns. Even if they aren’t current, when mixed into your wardrobe with pieces that are on trend they can elevate your outfit making it different to that of everyone else.
- Look in a different section. Look in the men’s section if you are a woman, particularly for jeans, pants, jumpers and coats. Women’s fashion constantly borrows from the boys and with the rise in popularity of unisex dressing, by not considering the ‘gender’ of a piece you effectively double your options. Same goes for men, don’t be afraid to try ladies cuts in unisex pieces like jeans or pants.
- Try a different size. This really only works if you try something a few sizes too big. Don’t try and squeeze into something too small. Oversize shapes are graphic and eye catching but aren’t for the faint of heart. Also make sure to balance an oversized element with something more fitted; an oversize jumper with a pencil skirt, or an oversize coat with a tapered jean. The key is not to look like you are swathed in a giant ball of fabric.
- Look outside your comfort zone. An op shop is the perfect environment for experimenting with your look in an affordable way. Try anything and everything even if you think it may look ridiculous, as you may very well be surprised with what you see. An outrageous piece can always be toned down with all black and if you aren’t brave enough to go with a full sequined dress say, try a sequined clutch. Op shops are a great place for unusual accessories, which can dress up any existing outfit you have.
As eco fashion advocate and Salvos Stores Ambassador Faye De Lanty says ‘second hand doesn’t have to mean second best.’ And it’s true, a lot of the time, vintage and second hand finds are better quality than many of the clothes made today. You’ve got nothing to lose, head to your local op shop and get thrifting.
Do you want to make an impact with your wardrobe? Check out our other ethical and sustainable fashion and beauty content.