Shopping high fash on low cash

WORDS BY LING HOU

We all know that eye-tearing moment when we find that one perfect item of clothing, so suited to you in style, fit and colour that you could’ve sworn it was designed exclusively for you.

It’s pure euphoria.

Until of course you do a double-take on the price tag. “$140 for a pair of jeans??!” you think to yourself, accompanied by a sigh of deep existential disappointment. “If only I could afford it.”

As a full-time studying and part-time working uni student, a good 80% of my wardrobe comes from op shops. If you asked me 2 years ago, I would have insisted that op shops were places where my grandparents bought ‘worthless antiques’ and musty smelling clothes, and that retail was, of course, the superior option.

However, now, when I need to refresh my wardrobe, I find myself going to op shops, sorting through preloved and vintage clothing, and feeling a sense of instant satisfaction when I find a quality piece that is in good condition and is oh-so affordable. Op shops are perfect for those who are avid shoppers but also bargain hunters. These are a few of Sydney’s hidden gold mines to get you started:

Salvation Army Warehouse (Seven Hills)

When it comes to op shopping, Salvos never disappoints. This Seven Hills Warehouse is stocked with racks and racks of second-hand clothing, sorted by category (women’s blouses, men’s shirts, children’s pants etc.) and neatly colour coded. The sheer size of the store may overwhelming at first, but you are sure to find something unique if you’re patient. The prices are beyond amazing, with regular, weekly discounts available on certain pieces that are identified by their specific coloured tag.

Price: Mostly between $5-$10

Lifeline shop (Epping) 

This cute little store near Epping Station is always a joy to visit. It’s a colourful store with an eclectic range of clothes, shoes and accessories. The stock is screened before it makes its way tothe racks, so the clothes are of good quality and condition. While the shop’s ambience can be compared to that of a high-end retro/vintage collector’s store, the price tags are comparable to Vinnies. resses from pricey brands like Review go for only $10, and a vintage Versace turtleneck will only put you back $8!

Price: Mostly between $8-$20

The Collective Ensemble (Newtown) 

Closer to uni, nestled in South King Street, The Collective Ensemble is a Newtown vintage favourite. The store is stocked with a collection of mostly 80’s and 90’s pieces. From old school hip-hop T-shirts to light floral summer dresses, every piece is unique in its own way and different from the next. This store is a little on the pricier side compared to the other op-shops I’ve recommended, but with your favourite brands like vintage Adidas, Versace, and Levis, this shop is definitely a hit.

Price: Mostly between $15- $40

Vinnies (Newtown)

Tucked between costlier alternative retail stores and designer vintage boutiques, this Vinnies on King Street has been a gem for quite a while. It is a fairly large shop, with racks neatly laid out for easy browsing. There’s a good selection of clothing donated from Newtown’s trendy locals, and although it’s not bargain price, it’s reasonable enough after you’ve spent your week’s wage on rent, bills and mi goreng. It’s usually quite busy, so get in early!

Price: Mostly between $10-$20  

Tips for a successful op shopping trip:

  • Be patient: set time aside to sort through each rack in the shop (let’s be honest, you’re not going to find an awesome piece by just going into a store for a few minutes)

  • Browse outside your size and gender: vintage pieces can be given a modern look by customising, cropping or wearing it oversized. Recognise quality and condition: prevent purchasing something over-priced by  feeling the material, look at the stitching and the brand.  

  • Don’t overlook knick-knacks: Peruse the book section, the furniture and other miscellaneous items.
     
  • Thrift with friends: Go Macklemore style.

 

Pulp Editors