If there is one thing you must know about me, it’s that I love to op shop. Nothing brings me a bigger thrill than finding a new top with tags or some sweet vintage pants. Thrifting isn’t just limited to my wardrobe. My unit is full of Gumtree furniture, charity shop books and Facebook Marketplace electronics. I even bought my cats second hand!
Saving money isn’t the only reason I live the pre-loved life. Buying new items uses up a huge chunk of our earth’s finite resources. Coal, water and land are all used to make our favourite wardrobe basics. Fast Fashion uses up these resources at a blinding speed that our earth can no longer sustain. So instead of encouraging the big box stores to make more, I turn to op-shopping as a way to reuse the textiles already in circulation.
In the interest of encouraging you to try out a more sustainable wardrobe, I’m sharing the top five things I have learnt from buying second hand.
1. Buying Preloved is a Money Saver
Some of my best luxury purchases have been from op shops. $10 Burberry pants that fit perfectly, a $20 vintage Christian Dior skirt set that was the envy of many and a $10 vintage Gucci handbag that is totally still on-trend. These prices alone are enough to make you run to the nearest op shop on a Gucci hunt.
While your next thrift stop may not turn over bunches of luxury finds, you are sure to find something for your wardrobe at less than recommended retail price.
Image via @ironicminimalist
2. Patience is Key
Many people give up op-shopping after their first run around the racks. But op-shopping, unlike regular shopping, takes time and patience. Luckily, developing an eye for bargains is an easy skill to grow in just a few shopping trips.
While the media may tell us that we need new clothes now, I believe that building the right wardrobe is slow and steady work. Patience when op-shopping helps you concentrate on the things that you really need. And who knows, that vintage Prada bag on your wishlist may just turn up among the racks.
Image via @remuused
3. I Got Creative
When I used to shop in the big box stores, I found myself buying clothes that social media told me to buy. These items didn’t fit my lifestyle and made me feel uncomfortable in my skin. Once I started op-shopping, everything changed. I found the freedom to experiment with my style and not be driven by what’s trending. Now I just take inspiration for thrifting from the trends that rove on Instagram. I no longer feel the need to buy into every trend as I know what works for me.
Image via @nevereverpayretail
4. I Can Find What’s Trending, But Better
Speaking of trends, fashion is constantly drawing inspiration from bygone eras. The 80’s padded shoulder has come back in full swing, along with the low slung jeans of the early 2000s and sweater vests of the 1930s.
If you walk into Vinnies today, you can actually find original versions of these trends hanging on the racks at much cheaper prices. While it may take a couple of trips to find the right fit, the feeling of satisfaction when you do is much better than clicking ‘Buy Now’.
Image via @mutualmuse
5. Most Purchases are Impulsive
Nowadays we have the ability to click before we think. ‘Oh, I forgot that I ordered that’ packages arrive at our door and our rails struggle with the weight of stuff we don’t actually need. But the preloved chase flips that narrative on its head.
Imagine you have the impulse to buy some new boots, but you have to find them first. Your hunt may take you to a few op shops, maybe a consignment store or two, before eventually scrolling away on eBay. Now if you have made it this far, you really want those boots!
Shopping preloved slows us down. It enables us to really think about what deserves a spot in our wardrobes.
Image via @depop
Ways to Embrace Second Hand Shopping
As much as I love a good in-person vintage store rummage, there are now plenty of ways to get my thrift on – online. eBay, Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace are all great for a couch shopping session. To maximise your results, save alerts for your favourite brands.
Depop is roughly home to 30 million users, meaning you are sure to find whatever your heart desires in the app.
If you have a strong desire to rifle through your local op shop online, now you can! Salvos, Brotherhood of St Lawrence, Vinnies, Sacred Heart and the Epilepsy Foundation have all launched online to fulfil all your searching desires.
Want a more curated experience? Mutual Muse drops a new collection six nights a week at 8pm. Lately, these collections have been based on the staff’s personal picks, so you can think of them as your own personal shoppers!
By Jenna Flood
ASI Sustainable Stylist
Jenna studied her Masters Certificate of Professional Styling with Australian Style Institute and is now a Personal and Editorial Stylist based in Melbourne. Interested in sustainable fashion? You can find more of Jenna’s articles here or follow her on Instagram @ironicminimalist