Monday 21 April 2014

Op Shopping ~ Fashionable or Not?

Op Shops (Thrift Stores) have always been around, but it hasn't always been cool to frequent them. In days gone past, there was a certain stigma attached to Op Shops and buying second hand clothes. I cannot remember any negativity being associated with buying second hand books or furniture, for instance, but purchasing second hand clothes was another matter. If you could afford to buy clothes in a regular shop, then you didn't tend to frequent Op Shops.

Times have changed and Op Shopping has become much more the in thing. Rather than second hand clothes, we now tend to talk about pre-loved clothes. I'm not totally sure why there's been such a change in attitude, but there's definitely been a big swing. It's most definitely much better for  the planet, but I'm not so sure that's the reason for the change.

I've bought fabric from Op Shops before, but earlier this year was my first time purchasing items of clothing. Up to this point, all of my refashions have been made with pre-loved clothing from family or friends.

So why the change for me to consider purchase clothing from an Op Shop...
  • encouragement from a friend
  • more time on my hands
  • less money now that I'm not in the workforce
  • finding a bargain that I just couldn't pass up
  • positive comments from a few friends when wearing my first purchase

And now I'm thinking of all the money I could have saved over the years!

This top was the first pre-loved piece of clothing I purchased for myself. There was no need for alterations, as the fit was perfect. At only $3, I have definitely had my money's worth, having worn it many times in the two months it's been mine. Like a t-shirt, it's super comfy, but a little dressier. It wouldn't be too hard to make, even though it's lined, but I could search and search and never find a similar fabric.

Are there any negatives to buying second hand clothing? It's all luck as to whether you'll find something or not. I know you can visit many retail shops and still not find what you are after, but the chances are even less in an Op Shop. However, your chances of finding something different that everyone else is not wearing, are greater.

On my last visit to an Op Shop, I purchased four items of clothing for myself. Even though it was only $3, the first item was not a good buy, as I found a stain on the sleeve that I couldn't remove. Pity, as it was a lovely, pale blue Ralph Lauren top that was a perfect fit. Lesson learned... check clothing for stains and signs of wear.

The next three articles of clothing are all way too big, but I'm thinking, that with a bit of refashioning, I can make them work for me.

This top is six sizes too large for me, but if I can take it in and reshape it, I'll have a tunic to wear over leggings. I don't know if it's even been worn, as the plastic tag, minus the original price tag, was still attached. A bargain, with all that fabric, at only $3!!!

The next two blouses were brand new and only $4 each. They're both four sizes too big and made with sheer fabric. Not sure how I'll attack them yet, as I tend to make refashions up as I go. Maybe I've just been lucky, but I'm very pleased with my pre-loved clothing purchases.

Why do people donate clothes to Op Shops?
  • clothes that are no longer in fashion
  • clothes that no longer fit
  • clothes that were a bad purchase in the first place
  • clothes that are never worn

Have you ever bought second hand clothing for yourself?  Tell us about your experiences Op Shopping... the good, the bad and the ugly. Do you think the trend will continue, or is it just a passing phase?

... Pam


  1. I wear only second hand clothing for over 10 years now ! Except underwear ... And shoes, too. Some are like brand new, and cost only 3 or 4 euros (I'm in France). And I buy much more stuff in these shops even my sewing machine !

    1. I couldn't wear pre-loved underwear, either, although I've seen them for sale.

  2. After WW2 ,in Europe and later in Israel in the early 1950 , we just had nothing and got Packages with old clothes from the USA. People meant well but sometimes they were stained/torn/ dirty. Lucky for me my mother could sew something from those things and i could embroider ,,, hence our dislike of 2nd hand clothes . Until the Industrial Revolution people wrote in will which child will receive every garment. Times dictate our attitude to which clothes we are willing to wear ,
    I still remake my own pre loved clothes and thus never bought such clothes. mirjam

  3. How funny to read this at this moment. I was just in the living room talking to my husband about this exact thing. One of my boys lives at home with us right now along with his family. This of my three boys was the one who was THE most verbal about getting things from second hand type stores and I thought he would die the time we had to actually go to the food pantry after I'd kicked their father out and never saw any child support from him. I was just telling my husband about the time this son while I was shopping in one of these stores how embarrassed he was and when he saw a friend come in he dove under the racks to hide. LOL The reason we were talking about it was the fact that he and his family shop at those stores regularly now and he comes home bragging about all the bargains he found this day or that. LOL It's funny how things change when he is now the one paying for these things.

    To answer your question, I have not bought any clothing for myself as I am a larger woman and things that might fit me are some of the first to go from these stores. People buy my sizes to have the fabric which is sad for me because I am not able to get the same bargains and end up paying $35 and up for my shirts at the store I normally shop in. I do however shop for all sorts of other things for the house and my Grandkids and I've also been stocking up on jeans day to collect those cheap for a quilt I want to make once I have collected enough of them.

    Your shirt is cute. Great buy on that one.

  4. I buy a lot of my clothes @ the thrift store -- I love finding a t-shirt for $3 or a sweatshirt for $4 - SCORE, lol! Our oldest son (25) buys all of his work clothes @ the thrift store - he just bought some drinking glasses there this weekend as he found ones with his favourite beer brands on them - he was very happy with his finds :)

  5. I love to op shop too. The finds are like little surprises. Sometimes I leave a shop empty-handed but when I do find something I like I do treasure it a lot. Very different from shopping at the mall!

  6. My favorite second hand purchase was a black leather biker jacket that I bought years ago in my early twenties. It had a lot of zippers too! It was $50, but worth a lot of money new. I wore it for years. I love a good find 2nd hand. My aunt frequents yard sales and has found some amazing things. It is her business in the U.S. She found me a large stack of 60s-style patterns that all open up to a large sheet. I don't know where they originated, but they are so unique and I've never seen them before.

  7. I love browsing the charity shops - we call it treasure hunting when I go with my girls. One of my best dresses - a long shiny sleek silvery shiny evening gown I got for $2 from a charity shop - definitely a treasure!

  8. I often dressed my children from Oxfam (a charity shop in England). It was great for extra school uniform and other things. I would just take them home and wash them and use them. At one time, when I was working, I bought all my smart work jackets from Oxfam too. Many were really good labels. Sometimes I would dye them to get the right colour. I still look in charity shops for 'bargains'. I like the term 'pre-loved' now as it makes it sound like buying second hand is doing something good for the environment.

  9. I wanted to buy second hand clothes a few years ago and there was NO shop available at all. It wasn't "in" and still is a weird subject for many around here. Some people still look at me as I am an allien for buying second hand, but as soon as I found one, i started buying, for myself, or for refashioning (sinze I am a petite size I usually have to refashion or just adjust a little).

  10. Your top looks great and for $3 it's a steal! I like to shop at the thrift's like a treasure hunt. I don't usually have the best of luck shopping for myself but I've found a lot of great stuff for the kids over the years.

  11. Your tops are a great buy - think of the cost of the fabric involved! You will make something lovely out of them so they get a second chance. x Jo

  12. My mother used to buy our clothes at the thrift store. I didn't mind but my sister was mortified.

    Years later she still goes. She is the Queen. I just have to mention that one of my sons needs shorts for the summer and she managed to wrangle up 10 perfect pairs of them the next time I see her. She enjoys it. Of course, she lives down the street and can spend hours at a time in there.

    I work down the road as well and sneak in maybe once a week during lunch. I enjoy it but it can get overwhelming since it is disorganized. There is no rack of 15 of the same shirt in different colors and sizes.

    I think it mostly boils down to time and quality. People need time to really look and find what they need. I've found some great items there but you have to be willing to look and sometimes come back empty handed.

  13. My husband and I had a good laugh several months ago. Someone had submitted a comment to the Talk Back section of our local newspaper. This individual stated that it had come to her/his attention that some "high class" women in the area were shopping in local thrift stores and bragging about how little they were paying for their purchases. I do not remember the exact wording, but the submission went on to say that these ladies should know that these shops were intended only for those who were in great financial need.

    Who knows how this person would define "high class" and whether anyone who is not destitute fits their definition!

    In answer to the question, though I have not purchased as many items of clothing as other things, such as tablecloths and cotton linens, both vintage and newer, if I see something that strikes my fancy and fits I sometimes purchase clothing. Most of the time, I buy things that are machine washable and stop at my clothes washer which is just inside my garage door. I remove any tags, etc., and wash and dry the items immediately. Last week, I found a pure linen, white long sleeved blouse and a 3/4 sleeve 100% cotton blouse. I discovered at the register that both were 50% off(I suppose they were considered seasonal). I paid $3.50 for the two and was happy to do so. Hopefully, I did not offend anyone!

    Your top is very pretty!

  14. I think it's become fashionable because of the trend for all things that are perceived as "vintage". Op shops label the clothes "vintage", even though they aren't! I don't shop in op shops for clothes as I can't afford it. Yep, they charge high street prices these days. Ridiculous.

  15. You found some great tops! I like shopping a thrift stores - you never know what you may find! Growing up, my mom would buy most of our clothes second-hand at thrift stores and garage sales. It's much more affordable, especially for me right now, as a student.


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