As Restyle is style challenge open to all, I thought I would impart some of my experiences and tips to negotiate the stores and some of the style prompts.
Over the past few weeks I have clocked up a lot of hours shopping. More specifically, I have sorted through racks, shelves, baskets and even pinched things off of mannequins in over twenty Vinnies retailers across Perth. Armed with optimism, and as much research and prior planning as possible, I endeavoured to find 31 eye catching, exciting outfits to match my own style and the 2014 Restyle daily prompts. Of course, the nature of the op-shop is that no amount of prior planning will translate to exactly what you are after. You never know what you are going to find. To jog your memory, or in case you missed it, find out all about Restyle here and see the daily style prompts here.
First, a little about me, my op-shop history and a little about my chosen charity Vinnies. I have been op-shopping for around about fifteen years, when I went in search of cool vintage pieces to add to my wardrobe. I loved costumes and mostly came home with silk patterned scarves, delicate gloves, pleated tartan skirts (aka channelling Clueless) and wonderful coats. Once I found a pastel mint coloured dinner plate, bowl and tea cup setting (of over about thirty pieces), and as I had been out walking, carried it all the way home in a heavy, straining garbage bag. It took me forty five minutes and the bag handles split after one street. Still, I made it home. That setting was beautiful and cost me $10! No regrets!
St Vincent de Paul society is an international organisation in 149 countries. It has over 950,000 members worldwide, most of whom are volunteers. These guys are everywhere- except perhaps Antarctica! In WA alone Vinnies assist around 150,000 people per year, and across Australia that number is more like 2,243,261.
With 45 stores in WA, 267 in NSW, 102 in VIC, 129 in QLD and 33 in SA just to give you an idea of the numbers, there is no excuse for you to not stop by in the next few weeks and pick up an item or two to participate in Restyle. You never know, you may even hit the jackpot! I may even be shortly inviting Perth readers to come shopping with me on a special night in August. Stay tuned. :)
Here are some of my top tips for thrift shopping…
KNOW YOUR COLOURS:
Most stores colour code their racks, so if you know what you do and don’t wear you can save time by skipping certain colours and diving in to others. Think of it like having blinders on, once you have gone through your colours you can always go back and see what you may have missed. There may even be a new colour in it for you.
JUST TRY IT ON:
Not your size? Not your style? Intrigued none the less? Give it a go. If you can sew and decide an item is worth altering, take it home. But, the same rule as buying a book applies: Only buy a book if you also buy yourself the time to read it. Consider if you really will alter or even wear things you try on. As with any other shopping you do, really consider if the item will enhance the items already in your wardrobe. Excellence, not excess.
GIVE YOURSELF TIME:
Set aside time to thoroughly go through the shop. Look through all of the racks: mens, womens and kids. Things get put back on the wrong rack. I have seen six pairs of Sass and Bide jeans, all for under $10 and all on mens clothing racks in various shops. Mens shirts (clean and made of cotton) are a good comfort buy. An oversized shirt is a great wardrobe staple.
STEALS: DESIGNER THREADS DONE CHEAP
By going through each rack thoroughly you can sometimes score big! Some Vinnies stores even have a dedicated designer clothing rack. I have found pieces from: Chloe, Chanel, Kenzo, Givenchy, MaxMara, Diane Von Furstenberg, Peter Pilotto and more. The most expensive item was $25. YEAH! The two Retro Vinnies stores are FULL of designer bargains. Most of these are handpicked at the depot upon sorting and sent out to the stores, conveniently located in central Freo and on William Street in Northbridge.
Look for good fabric- cotton, silk, leather, wool, etc. Feel the clothes on the racks, just try it, don’t look at the size or label just run your fingers along the rack and see what you can find. Today brand new items like these generally come at a higher cost. Leather pants at Vinnies? I got mine for $6.
BE OPEN MINDED:
You may find the idea of wearing something recycled uncomfortable. All items are clean, and are checked over for holes, marks and the like upon sorting. As the prices are lower, it is a good opportunity to step outside of your comfort zone and try a new style. In this challenge I am going to be wearing all sorts of prints, colours and lengths that I would usually avoid. The fun part is to throw caution to the wind and get creative.
What are some of your tips for op-shopping? Have you found any amazing pieces? Please share your tips and stories below!
In the coming week I will share more about Vinnies and their incredible work. I was amazed to find out where the funds go and what a difference it makes. I will also introduce each of the 2014 Restyle bloggers and share some photos behind the scenes on our campaign shoot. The images added here are screen grabs from an upcoming Restyle Video I have been filming, coming to Inspiring Wit TV on YouTube in August. xx