How to get the most out of your next Op Shop Clothing adventure


Whether you are new to op shopping for clothes or a regular, we thought we would share some useful tips.

Whether you are new to op shopping for clothes or a regular, we thought we would share some useful tips from Emma Willmann, Statement Styling and Katie Roberts, Sustainability in Style who were facilitators for our recent fabric program Op Shop rambles in Maroochydore and Nambour.

Quick top op shop tips by Katie Roberts

  • Upon entering the store check the layout: Look for clues (such as signage) about the layout. Is it organsied by: colour, item type, size, gender, season, occasion, purpose (i.e. gymwear, fancy dress), is there a special section for vintage or designer items?
  • Ask the staff: The people who work in charity stores are often volunteers who are more than happy to chat with you and help you find what you are looking for. They won’t always know all the stock in the shop but asking is usually the fastest way if it might be in stock and where it might be located.
  • Forget the size tag: Always shop outside your percived "size". Clothing sizes aren't standarised and many designers make "oversized" items as part of their ranges (an example would be a baggy t-shirt in a size small that would comfortably fit a size large). If a store organsises items try shopping the whole store or at least one size above or below what you would normally buy. Also- items aren't alway put back in the right size section!
  • Forget gender and age: Many stores like to organise stock into genders and age brackets (children, young adult, adults). Often womens items are placed incorrectly in the mens section. Clothing assigned to "men" is often a stylish alternative for women. Check for oversized blazers, boyfreind jeans, worn in t-shirts and quality shirting. Are you petite? Items in the kids section often fits Australian womens sizes 6-10 so be sure to look there too!
  • Check the "fancy dress" section: If you have a fondess for embroidery, beading, prints, and vintage always check the section labelled "fancy dresses" a hidden treasure trove for special items.
  • Avoid overwhelm by narrowing your focus: Op shops can be overwhelming. The best way to avoid this is to have a plan of what you are after then focus on fabric, colour, and/or print as your browse. When you get your "laser"; focus on- for example- white cotton, you will be surprised how much white cotton you see and how everything else fades into the background!

Top 5 OP Shop tips by Emma Willmann

  1. Start with shoes and accessories: to avoid the distraction later, scan those areas first to see there are shoes in your size or if there are any interesting or quality accessories. Whether cheap and cheery or semi precious, unique accessories set your wardrobe apart from others shopping in mainstream stores.
  2. Look for your colours: The first test an item must pass should always be colour, so quickly scan the racks (Thank you op shops that colour block!) and discard items outside your colour palette. If you don't know your colours, maybe it's time to have a personal colour analysis done! If you fall in love with a garment that is not your best colour, ask yourself whether it is high quality, fits you well and is a natural fiber, in which case you may be able to dye. but its often not worth the time and expense.
  3. Touch things: Since garments will be against your skin, get acquainted with how the fabric feels the texture, the drape, the give. You can feel the quality of clothing with your hands and on your skin so even if you aren't' familiar with fabrics and their composition, you can get a sense for the finish of the garment and whether it looks well made.
  4. Check the tags: Personal style has nothing to do with wearing designers or brand names but a tag is a quick way to ensure quality and consistency. Certain brands are known for their tailoring, others for their exclusive prints or imported fabrics and this can be quickly discerned by checking the labels. Labels also offer valuable information about washing and care which should be taken into consideration (eg: Do I actually want to get this dry cleaned every time I wear it?).
  5. Ignore the sizing/racks: You may have figured this out already but women's sizing in Australia is arbitrary and hasn't been regulated since tho 1970s. Also, vintage sizing is generally a smaller fit so don't be dissuaded by the size. You need to try it on! You can also find amazing garments in the menswear and kids racks so don't be afraid to wander through all the racks and reinvent things.

To learn more about your stye. go to au

Also, why not make an event of it - invite some friends - start with coffee, share with each other what you are looking for - then there are more eyes to find the prize!

Key op shopping ramble locations

  • Nambour ,there are usually 7-8 op shops in Nambour at any given time including Lifeline, Vinnies, Salvos and a good range of smaller stores where you will also find treasures.
  • Maroochydore. Aerodrome Rd, is filled with Op Shops we recently noted 9!
  • Caloundra - Bulcock St and out towards the industrial area, off Caloundra Road

If you look around you will usually find op shops of some description in nearly every town! Feel free to share your favourite with us below or email [email protected]

Contact Katie Roberts at Sustainability in Style to learn how to host your own self-guided tour or to organise a facilitated group Op Shopping adventure [email protected], @sustainabilityinstyle

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