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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Op Shopping Adventures

I love the thrill of op shopping. I love looking through all the different clothing, knick knacks and home wares that are on offer. I adore the anticipation. Will I find something lovely and exciting? I especially enjoy looking a the wedding gowns, thinking about how they were cherished and made some woman feel beautiful on her special day.

I think plus size women often assume that they will not find anything in their size at an op shop. Sure, i often see things and think 'If I was a size 12 I would be i heaven'. There is definitely a surplus of great things on offer for the smaller lady However, here's the thing, women size 16+ donate clothing too! Which means there ARE plus sized clothing out there!

I have recently had a lot of success on my op shop adventures, so I am going to share with you my 'loot' as well as some tips for how to do a successful op shop.

 My Loot

I purchased all of these items on two separate trips to some local Op shops, a St Vinnies and a Salvos. I went to 4 shops in total. All up the above cost me $62. I know for a fact that one of the above items cost almost double that originally! (more on that later).

So lets have a look at what i bought

My first shopping expedition I went to two op shops in a suburb near me. I was not expecting to find much, and really was just looking in order to kill some time.

The first shop I came out with a plastic bag of necklaces. They were a mix of plastic beads and coloured wooden ones. I also found approx 2 metres of stretch striped fabric.

I was REALLY lucky with the bag of necklaces as I noticed the bag just as I was paying for the striped fabric. My daughter had spied some necklaces on the counter and was heading up a cry for 'Pretties, Pretties PPPRREEETTTYYYY'. I grabbed the bag as it looked like it was full of chunky beads and tossed them in with my order. The bag was marked $5. However the girl put it in as 50c and said that would be fine. SCORE! When I later looked in the bag I realised that I like a lot of them! My daughter snapped up a beaded pink crystal one, and I happily kept the rest. I have worn the wooden red one and the green one lots of times already.

I plan on making a striped pencil skirt out of the fabric. Or more accurately, I plan on getting my Mother to make me one. I will most definitely share the finished product when I do.

The next stop I picked up two cardigans (only one is photographed).

The un-photographed one is currently in the wash, so that should give an indication of how much I like it! It is a short sleeve red knit with large silver buttons, almost brand new from Katies.

The one above is from Millers, and is in excellent condition. I knew it would be perfect for work, with 3/4 sleeves but in a cotton knit, which is really light weight. It also is striped, making it very fashionable at the moment. I have already worn this quite a bit, I have a red skirt that I paired it with for work.

I also found an ASOS maxi dress.

 This one I was unsure about but I tried it on as it looked very large and I was unsure how it would look on. It also had the size tag taken off so I didn't know how big it was. When I tried it on it fitted quite well. It was still a big big around the waist but my Mum said she could take it in easily. I also decided I would cut the arms so they were for of a cap sleeve, meaning I would get better use out of it.

Spurred on by this success I planned a day of p shop hunting with my Mother and sister. Last week we looked up another two op shops and off we went.

Our first stop was at a small St Vinnies. We had been there before as they have really lovely crotchet blankets that are made by some local ladies. One large blanket only costs $15. I plan on going there to get some baby blankets for some friends who are having babies ( I have 4 friends due within 2 weeks of each other, Yikes!).

This Vinnies actually had a whole rack full of size 12 &14 blazer and skirt suit sets. They were immaculate and were great quality. It was while digging through these that I found 'The Blazer'.

A black and white striped blazer, Emerge brand (sold through EziBuy), and STILL WITH THE TAGS ATTACHED! The tag which read $119.95! You better believe I tried that jacket on right away and I was delighted to discover it fit perfectly. This jacket was snapped up for $30.

Our next stop was a really large Salvos. This was full of stuff, but not many plus sized items. They did have a HUGE amount of shoes. So many that they were piled up on top of each other.

I was about to give up but then spied the dress rack and went digging. Once again luck was on my side. I pulled out a beautiful floral dress that was from another EziBuy brand, Capture. I was unsure about it as the neck looked a bit high, but I tried it on again anyway.

 It fit really well, although I was still unsure about the height of the neck and the 3 layers of ruffles. However for $15 I decided to buy it and get my Mum to cut a lower neckline. The picture below shows the dress with the alterations. My Mum made the neck wider and lower and replaced one layer of ruffles.

The colours are beautiful and the skirt falls soft and flowy, so it was well worth making the alterations. I can't wait to wear this dress. It will be perfect for work with a cardigan, or dressed up with heels.

Sadly the next two shops didn't turn up anything for me. However one of them had recently completed a bridal and evening wear expo showing all the amazing evening wear you can get. They had a lot of plus sized evening wear, and much of it still had the tags on! It was amazing to look at all the lovely things you could get from an op shop and almost made me wish I was getting married again!

Here is what I have learnt from my recent shopping trips

  1. Go through every item on the rack. Really look at the items don't just flick through them. That way you make sure you don;t miss anything. More than once I pulled out something lovely from a rack just after my sister Nerida had had a look. She was rushing through them and not looking properly
  2. Ignore the size tag. Look at the cut of the item rather than what the size tells you. You may be surprised what fits once you try it on.
  3. Try it on! If there is something that looks like the right size, try it on. If there is something about the item you are not 100% sure about, try it on anyway. You just don't know what it will be like until you try it on. 
  4. Consider if it can be altered. It does help if you are handy with a sewing machine, or have someone that is. If an item is a good price but just a little big, or too long, etc have a think about whether it can be altered. A dress that does not fit right on top can become a lovely skirt. In saying that, if you are going to get it professionally altered then you will need to consider the cost involved in doing so before you buy.
  5. Consider the price of the original item and the quality. For me I usually wouldn't spend $30 on something secondhand. However the striped blazer fit perfectly, still had the tags attached, and was great quality. Therefore I was happy to spend that amount. 
  6. Really consider if you will wear it. Sometimes you may find something that fits, but if you don't think you will wear it it will be a waste of money, no matter how cheap it is. 
  7. Lastly, I believe in 'Op Shop Karma'. This is where you pass up something that might be great quality, great price or great brand because it doesn't really fit well enough, or you know you won't wear it. It can be tempting to buy it anyway, but I believe you should leave it there for the 'right' person to come across it.
The first time I went op shopping with my sister I found a Kiyonna brand  Betsy ruched polka dot dress. I was in love, but it was a size 2X and was too big for me. I urged Nerida to try it. She did but she wasn't keen. I so wanted that dress because it was KIYONNA, and it was $15. I was tempted to buy it and resell it on Ebay for way more. I did not. I reminded myself that this would be an awesome dress for some other plus sized lady. Karma. It works.

So there you have it. My top tips for op-shopping

Tell me, have you had an awesome second hand item ? Through an op shop, a hand me down or Ebay?


  1. I find soooo many wonderful blazers in opshops....I seriously hunt through each and every shelf! I also find a lot of lovely knits in the mens section and they are nice and big too!!

    That floral dress is a GOLDEN FIND! Long the live opshops!!!! xo

  2. Oh my goodness! I love your op shop finds but I love your Mum more! What an awesome alteration on that dress! Ok. That was a lot of exclaimation marks. Must restrain myself for exclaiming everything. Haha.

    Great post lovely!! ;)

  3. I am on the hunt for a denim jacket and a black blazer!