The never-ending struggle of figuring out what to wear to Uni is a challenge we all face. Trying to keep an updated wardrobe can be hard when you have a sad-looking bank account.  You might end up deciding to wearing the one hoodie you own for the whole week in the hope that no one will realise. With assignments, readings, and the mental overload of uni, the creativity and motivation of deciding what to wear each day can slowly diminish. Do not stress my dears! I have two words for you: op shopping.   

My life changed when I decided a many years ago to check out the local Salvo’s and Vinnie’s stores. It was a moment of pure excitement as I walked into the store and saw rack after rack of possibilities. Now, I would say a vast majority of clothes I get are from the op shop and I have to admit I am a bit of an addict, as I go at least once a week to my favourite op shops around the city. There is nothing like scouring the racks unaware of what treasures you will find.

If you think of op shops as a place where grandmas go to get doilies and horrible clothes from the last century, think again! Op shopping is a great way to get great clothes for an even greater price. Where else can you get a velvet jacket for $6 or a pair of high heels in pristine condition for $8? Also if you are especially lucky, sometimes you can find big name brands in great condition for a fraction of the price.   

If you find yourself with a spare afternoon or if you are having a look through your clothes thinking that you have nothing to wear, give the op shop a go. Here are some handy tips that have helped me over the years:

  1. Look through everything. Go through every rack. Trust me, it may seem like a lot of flicking through and your arms will definitely get tired but it will be worth it. You never know what could be hidden in the racks. If you fit into a smaller size it’s also worth checking out the kids section. I found a pair of overalls in the kids section and it was the best day of my life. Also, girls look in the men’s section and vice versa. Sometimes stuff gets muddled around and you never know what you will find.
  2. Op shopping is even more fun when you take a friend or two. You can get input on what looks good on you and what doesn’t. You can both pick the most tragic outfits for each other then make each other try them on which is always a laugh.
  3. If you are unsure about whether you like something or not, don’t put it back. Keep hold of it until you are 100% sure. I have had the experience of putting something back on the rack only to change my mind and discover that someone else had grabbed it. Truly heartbreaking.
  4. Wear clothes and shoes that you can easily take off . There’s nothing worse than seeing a cool pair of shoes but having to spend 5 minutes undoing your shoelaces just to  try them on.  Another tip is to wear comfy clothes, who knows how long you will be there for. A dress is a good idea, or loose pants and a t-shirt.  I have found myself spending nearly a whole afternoon at the op shop.
  5. Don’t buy stuff just because it is cheap. I have found myself in the trap of finding a black t-shirt (I already have about 6) and thinking “ I NEED THIS. IT’S SO CHEAP.” Pick out things that you will actually wear. Everyone loves a bargain, but think whether it is actually a good purchase or not.
  6. Keep the cycle going. After you have bought some new, snazzy op shop clothes, have a look and see what you don’t wear anymore and donate it. Someone will find great joy in the clothes you no longer wear anymore. Plus, having a clean out of clothes every now and then is good to help get rid of clothes spilling out of your wardrobe.  
  7. One of my favourite things about op shops is that you find things that are one of a kind. If you aren’t always into the latest trends, op shops are  great for finding unique pieces. Op shops are a wonderful place for creativity and imagination to  flow. As my mum describes, I look like a ‘hipster grandma mixed with a toddler’ which I think suits me well. To my delight is a never ending surplus of overalls and oversized wool jumpers at my favourite Salvos. Whatever your style, the op shop can be a fantastic  place to find something you will like, or even experiment and try new things.   

Now, go forth and conquer the op shops!


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