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  • Writer's pictureDiane Shaw

How to Op Shop the Savvy Way

"Style is a way of saying who you are without having to speak" - Rachel Zoe ​So, if you've read my previous blog "how to find your personal style", you'll be well on the way to figuring out what you want to project to the world and how to own your style. However, when it comes to filling the gaps in your wardrobe, it can be difficult to find the items you have in mind to give it your personal twist as most shops stick to seasonal colours and trends. This is where op shopping or thrifting can really come into its own. Benefits to buying second hand are:

  • Finding colours, styles and fabrics that may not be "on trend" right now but are still relevant and meet your personal aesthetic.

  • Note: (I've worn platforms and flares since their first resurgence in the 90's, often with more on trend pieces so I don't look like an extra from "The Partridge Family" - but still).

  • Finding quality items at a fraction of the original cost.

  • Thinking creatively about your outfits to make your own signature looks reflecting your personal style, (see previous blog), as opposed to just shopping what’s in the catalogue or in season.

  • Shopping sustainably - a big one guys!

  • Supporting charities and local businesses - also a big one.

​Checklist for op shopping the savvy way: Do:

  • Identify the gaps in your wardrobe and what you are actually hoping to find so you don't come home with an evening gown with no big event looming when what you really need is clothes for work.

  • Remember, everything in the shop will be a bargain but if you don't wear it it's not actually a bargain.

  • ​Think about what else you own that it will go with so you can be sure you'll create more than one outfit from the purchase therefore adding value to your wardrobe.

  • Keep in mind, things can be altered and if it's exactly what you're looking for but needs adjustment - do the calculation and see if it's worth it.

  • Keep your eye out for "dry clean only" tags as this can also alter the overall cost.

  • ​Check the item thoroughly for stains, stretching, pilling - I'm talking crotch and armpits here folks, you don't want any nasty surprises on your return home.


  • Be disappointed if you don't find what you're after the first time, try to pick a few shops and pop in regularly for your best chance of finding the gems.

  • Try and find something the day before you need it for an important event. As mentioned above, op shopping usually, although not always, requires a bit more time and patience than regular shopping.

  • Try to bargain with the assistant, especially if it's a charity! Charities know what things are worth and sell them at a lot less than that so try to remember where the money's going - just saying!


  • Hand wash with a favourite soap to get rid of the op shop musty smell.

  • For coats or jackets some Febreez and a sunny windy day can do the trick if you don't feel inclined to spend the money dry cleaning, although I often hand wash these too.

  • Shoes - I don't recommend buying these second hand unless they're in near new condition as they'll have another persons foot shape embedded in them and that's not ideal. However when I do find a mint pair I wipe them out with hand sanitiser and lavender oil and then put my own inner sole in them.

Thrifting and the holidays: I think op shopping and holidays go together. Generally you're in a more relaxed, inspired and creative space and you never know what you’ll find while exploring other towns. I always do a quick google search of op shops when arriving somewhere new and make an afternoon of it. ​​ For example: A year ago while on a road trip I bought this perfect condition banana bag in Paeroa, something I've coveted for years after big sis had one the same in the 70's, (#childhoodfashioninfluences), and the Italian suede boots were a song in Mt Maunganui. (As for what I found in San Francisco's Haight Ashbury district - I won't even go there but I still wear them, over three years later!)

​Buyer beware! Try not to get too carried away, (as we all have at some time), with the holiday vibe! It defeats the purpose somewhat if you come home with a bag full of things you'll never wear as the climate or your lifestyle just doesn't cater to it. Three fringed kaftans and a rainbow coloured sombrero anyone? Concluding: ​On that note I'll leave you to ponder whether op shopping is something you love or would consider introducing into your shopping agenda in the new year for thrift, sustainability, originality and fun. Look out for my next blog in January : "How to organise your wardrobe” - a great way to start the new year ensuring you wear everything, all the time. If you found this article useful follow me on social media for sartorial tips and inspiration, read my monthly blogs or if you need help with anything fashion, style or wardrobe related call me to book a 1/2 hour complimentary assessment

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