Systematic guide to op shopping

I am writing because I feel like a zombie. Writing and formatting these applications is putting me to sleep. ZzzzZz. I also visited the op shop again today, though I was just there two weeks ago. I prefer D-town op shops, the ones here can be pricey. Op shopping is fun. It's nice to recycle perfectly wearable clothes instead of disposing them. It's pure; no, just joking, I'm sounding like a hippie. But you do get to evaluate the product and design, with your opinions relatively untainted by price or brand. I'm happy to pick up expensive branded pieces, which I wouldn't usually buy. You get to see designs from decades past, some which are really great, some you wonder why clothes were ever made that way. And of course the main attraction is that it's cheap.

I was thinking about the process of op shopping today. If you go all the time you can ignore this post. And if you're a guy you can probably ignore this too, I don't know how op shopping works for boys.

1. What to look for

a) Op shops are good for items that age well. Jeans, slacks, skirts, good quality jackets, dresses, boots and bags. Yes you're buying second hand stuff, but unless it's a stylistic choice, you want pieces that look intact and feel fresh. Not old.

b) Op shops are bad for anything that is too intimate to be second hand - including underwear, nighties, stockings and scarves (I have bought scarves before but smell test it before you purchase). And op shops aren't the place to buy anything that is relatively cheap such as stockings, T-shirts and singlets.

2. Screening for potentials

a) Screening: treasure hunting is exciting, but digging through piles and piles of old, dirty looking clothing can get tedious. Here are some tips for reducing the time wasted. The easiest way is to have something in mind eg. work clothes and target the relevant sections. Once you start browsing you can screen items, before you start pulling out hangers, by look and feel. Visually inspect the colour, pattern, material and "new-ness" of the items (oh no this is starting to sound like steps of a physical exam). That way you can quickly pick out a beautiful colour, a flowery pattern you love, and more importantly screen out the items that actually look old and tired, with whites that are yellowing (jaundice?), colours that are fading (anaemia, ha), fabric or wool that is frayed. When you feel the rows of clothing you can quickly pick out good quality, comfortable to wear goods, from the scratchy, allergy-inducing stuff. You can also get an idea of whether, for example a skirt, is just right in heaviness, or too flimsy. If you are too lazy to iron like me, it's important to assess whether the folds hold their shape well, or crumple easily.

b) Quick assessment: once the item has passed the screening stage, take it out for a quick assessment for size and fit. If you can't work out whether a pair of pants is the right size for you visually, you will need more practice (or else you will spend a long time in the change rooms trying out items that don't fit, like I did in the past). This is the stage where you assess design (like or dislike) and details such as whether the jeans are high waisted or hipsters, skinnys or flares, whether the V neck is way too low, whether the skirt is the right length for your style, whether the sparkles are too childish etc.

3. Trying them out

You've picked a cute dress in the nicest shade of red. The next part is important - this is the definitive test (okay I will stop with the medical analogies). The best pieces of clothing are of no use if they don't fit onto your body. Apart from seeing whether the clothes fits from feel, and by looking at your reflection in the mirror, this is also the time to feel the suitability of the material (need to iron or okay not to iron), and check for defects such as missing buttons, dodgy zips and obvious stains. If the button is missing, like the shirt I bought today, assess whether it's easily fixed and if there are extra buttons you can pull out to replace the crucial buttons in the midline central chest area. It's a good idea to make two piles, "purchases" and "return to shelf" items, before you step out of the change room.

4. Deciding on the purchase

After steps 1 to 3, half the time it will be an obvious yes, or a no way. But other times, it's a maybe. Some points to consider are:

a) Price: set a limit - mine is roughly at least half of what I would normally pay for a similar new item, with an upper cap of $15. Exceptions can be made for very new, fantastic quality items. Some of these M op shops are ridiculous. Last time I tried on nice colourful, summery, Bardot dress and then saw the price tag of $35, hmm I'm pretty sure I can pay a little extra for a brand new one. Beware of the $10 Valleygirl shirt that you can easily find on sale in the actual store for the same price or cheaper.

b) Will you wear it? someone I know used to (but doesn't any more) buy loads of sale clothing that were never worn because they were too weird or out there. I also have a proportion of op shop clothes that stay with me for a little while but very soon ends up in the op shop again, or stays in the bottom of a dusty suitcase.

5. Finalise your purchase

Keep an eye out for days or seasons when certain op shops have specials. Go home and wash your clothes. But if you're not that fussy, and the piece passes the smell test, you can always wear it and then wash it with your next load.

Hmm halfway through writing this I realised that with the same headings, you could write something similar about picking a boy. Or a girl. So many interesting things to write about, yet we have to write letters of self promotion, flattery, and fake enthusiasm about how excited we are about working at X or Y. Nothing makes me very excited, well except delicious food, catching up with friends, playing with my sister, holidays, books, writing, drawing, singing, sleeping, okay maybe there are quite a few things but medicine does not seem to be one of them. Fortunately, this is on private and our lovely HR friends won't stumble across my apathy. Unfortunately, my apathy is probably evident even without a written declaration.


Ziph said...

Lol. Some great pearls of wisdom.
I skipped the bit where u said guys can ignore this.
Ah well. I shall go look for a nice red dress on the weekends. :P

Winnie said...

and wear it to your interviews :D

js said...

haha seems like these job applications are really affecting you. selling yourself right is incredibly awkward! let me know how it goes or if perchance there's anyway i can help, but in the meantime please write something similar about picking a boy/girl.

Winnie said...

thanks joe, I'll let you know how it goes. probably leave that potential article for you or some other blogger to write. after all, I wouldn't say that I've had nearly as much experience/expertise in that as I've had in picking clothes! haha


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