I put the idea of a guide for Op-shopping on my end-of-year blog survey and after a little bit of interest (I didn't even get ten people to fill out the survey) I decided to give it a go. I think this will be a very basic guide to begin with, but if it goes well I will definitely be writing a part two or putting some more ideas out there for stuff that you can do with stuff that you buy 2nd hand. I also want to talk a bit about sites like etsy and ebay.
WHEN YOU ARE BUYING CLOTHES TO WEAR:
If you like going op-shopping to buy clothes and wear them as they are there are a few things you will need to make sure of:
1. Ensure that there are no stains or marks on the item. Check all the places you normally wouldn't think of such as the back of the item or the sleeves. If you are buying an item to reinvent you may be able to add detail or cut the item (get rid of the collar for example) depending on where the mark is.
2. Look for tears, fraying or missing buttons. Most of these things can be altered. Tears and fraying can often be sewn up or covered by something else and buttons can often be replaced. If you are not much of a seamstress you might do well to stay away from these things.
3. Try the clothes on. If they are too big you may be able to take the clothes in. Again, if you are not much of a seamstress you will want the clothes to be able to fit well.
Ready to wear clothes that you can find plenty of in a thrift store:
-Women's suits: Well I don't know about your local thrift store, but our local one seemed to have plenty of these. I call them mother-of-the-bride or grandmother-of-the-bride suits. Last time I checked the local shop had 3 or 4 of these made from tweed. They are often in larger sizes, but the jackets look pretty cool as an oversize jacket worn with leggings.
-High waisted bottoms: I have found many skirts and shorts at thrift stores that actually sit on the waist. i find these to be more flattering and comfortable than many of the hipster bottoms that you pay $40 dollars for at other shops.
-Evening wear: Old deb dresses, grad dresses, wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses.... Many of them get worn once and are then thrown into the donation bin without a second thought. If you live in a small town like me though, and depending on the style of the dress you may want to alter it a bit so somebody doesn't recognise the dress from another event. Sometimes you can get away with this... I guess it all depends a little bit on how you wear the dress too.
WHEN YOU ARE A SKILLED SEAMSTRESS:
So if you know your basic stuff or your really advanced stuff when it comes to dressmaking op-shopping can be a really cheap way to get your stitch on. If you see an outfit with a really nice fabric you could cut it up and use the fabric or change the style of one part of the garment. If you see a clothing item that you really like that is made out of ugly fabric you could try and deconstruct the item and use it as a pattern.
Great treasures that you can find in an op-shop:
-Buttons: There are often jars or packets of buttons available in op-shops. Metallic ones are the hardest to come by
-Old jewellery: I know many people don't like op-shop jewellery because it can tend to be a little gross sometimes. Some of the beads and pendants are still quite usable though.
-Collared, button up shirts: There are plenty of these in supply at thrift stores and they can be used to create detachable collars Miu Mui style, have the shoulders cut out of them or be made into sleeveless collared shirts. all looks which I have seen quite frequently in Frankie Magazine.
-Belts, bags and shoes
-Hard cover books: The paperbacks at thrift stores always tend to be quite creased, but the cloth bound books are always in pretty good condition. If you happen to come across a cloth bound classic it's a keeper
-Tea cups and homewares: Things like mirrors, clocks, vases and trinket boxes.
WHAT ABOUT ONLINE?
Shops like etsy and ebay have made op-shopping and buying craft supplies a lot easier. The only thing to be careful with on these stores is to check the details and pricing. Etsy especially tends to be overpriced. I think the online shops are better for the supplies side of things. While ribbons may be pretty easy to buy at the local $2 shop, buttons and beads are pretty cheap finds online.
On ebay you can often purchase bulk lots of vintage buttons and 2nd hand jewellery for cheap prices. These are probably around the same as your $2 shop prices, but there tends to be a bigger range online. Etsy is good for buying jewelery making supplies and bulk metal book marks. Be sure to search for things under 'all items' or 'supplies' as handmade and vintage items tend to have a hefty price tag.
So how did I go? Hopefully this will be informative to some of you budget shoppers and creative geniuses out there. I know this is a pretty basic guide, but like I said before, if I get a good response I am hoping to upload more guides for shopping, some DIY and op-shopping hauls AND some more DIY ideas.