Save Money on Clothes Without Op-Shopping

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I’m a self-confessed dag when it comes to fashion.

I’m very much a wearer of the mummy uniform: t-shirts (several of the exact same ones in multiple bright colours like black, white and grey) and jeans.

And some perfectly good sneakers that may or may not be taped up with gaffer tape.

But there are times when I get my girly on, and want to update my wardrobe.

I’m frugal, so it’s here I’m supposed to tell you about all my awesome op-shop buys.

But I have a confession to make:

I hate shopping for clothes at op-shops.

The mothball smell is a little off-putting, there’s that, but more to the point, I hate rummaging through the tangle of odds and ends looking for that really one great buy.

Because I don’t enjoy shopping at all; the thrill of the chase escapes me.

Unless we start talking books. That’s another story.

I have been able to pick up a few op-shop bargains, especially for the kids, but it’s more about serendipity rather than having spent time hunting and gathering.

Here’s my preferred shopping experience:

I walk into a store and see at the very front signature plain t-shirts (long sleeve for winter, short or singlet for summer), on sale. I buy several in various colours to match my years old jeans or shorts.

Shopping done in 3 minutes.

No need to shop again for another 6 months or more.

However, assuming you’re avoiding the mummy uniform, how does one look fashionable without spending a fortune and without spending hours rummaging in op-shops?

The key is to invest in ‘classic’ wardrobe essentials that last for years, preferably when these items are on sale, and add to these classic pieces a couple of latest trend items and accessories for a personal look.

Investing in quality and taking good care of classic items is important for making them last from year to year.

The more trendy items that might date season to season, are better of being bought cheaply from discount stores like Big W or Kmart.

What are classic essentials?

Classic wardrobe essentials to build on include:

  • Jeans
  • Casual khaki pants
  • Black tailored pants
  • A-line Skirt
  • White cotton or linen shirt
  • Casual tees long sleeve, short sleeve and singlet top
  • Black woollen cardigan and jumper
  • Casual jumper or sweater
  • Evening dress
  • Jacket
  • Tailored suit for work interviews etc.

I would probably add shorts because I live in QLD and tracky-daks because I’m a dag and live in tracky-daks around the house.

If you’re a shopper at heart and you like the thrill of the hunt, then op-shopping is a great way to find a fashion bargain. But if you’re like me, and prefer to spend your time browsing books rather than bras, a classic wardrobe will ensure you look your best without spending a fortune.

Do you op-shop for clothes? What are your fashion basics and how do you save on clothing?

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  1. Charmaine says:

    I confess that I adore op-shops. I am an addict. It’s the only way I ever get designer clothes on my body! It started because I didn’t want to spend too much money on a wardrobe for my post-baby body…which was reducing in size every week. Now I don’t think I can go back to retail. My tips for op-shopping are:

    Leave the baby at home
    Wear comfortable clothes with slip on shoes (to try on clothes easily & quickly)
    Go to well-to-do suburbs and print out a list of store locations before you go.
    Only ever buy it if it fits you right now (rather then ‘this will fit perfectly when I lose 5 kilos’).

    This season I have scored a gorgeous black coat, a tan suede jacket, two pairs of tailored work pants, Sportscraft & Country Road work shirts, a lovely pair of black wedge peep-toe heels, 3 pairs of jeans, a delicate black crochet beanie and grey scarf. Don’t even get me started on the baby bargains!

    My basics that I buy from K-mart tend to be long grey, white a black singlets that I layer. I also wear to death a long knee length black cardigan from Kookai that cost more than I would normally spend ($100) but is pure wool and goes with everything.

    I agree that classics colours and cuts are best…they just don’t date.

    PS ….oh & I love that op-shoppy mothball smell of a bargain!

  2. Also living in Qld I find little use for Winter fashions and so I tend to wear teeshirts and sandals all year round with a jacket or cardi over the top of them, so I don,t feel the need to go to an op shop as I can pick up some fabulous off season bargains ( like the tee I bought last week for $1.00 ) I dont own boots and I only have 1 pair of full shoes. But I am an ebay fanatic, well a girls got to have some vices.

  3. Unfortunately being on the larger size, it took me a few years to come up with my own frugal shopping. I wear jeans all the time, daggy ones around home newer ones out. For tops (especially around home) I buy men’s clothing. Men’s shirts are usually cheaper than girls and are great for basics. Often buy rayon shirts to wear over a singlet top – looks cool and floaty in summer. I live in Adelaide so come winter I buy men’s flanelette shirts (there are some nice colours) worn with a t-shirt, or men’s windcheaters. All cheapies from K-mart. Mens wear is also a little bit longer so covers the hips and helps to keep you warm. I only buy ‘other’ more girly clothes on sale. Never pay full price for an article.

  4. It seems that when it comes to fashion, women have their way of finding a bargain. My MIL can sniff a bargain out at 20 paces. I would shop with her to get some of that bargain luck to rub off but some of the stuff she pull off the shelf for me…mmm no.

  5. Thanks for the tip cash queen. I have to find friends my size…

  6. i too live in qld
    what i do as i am also a large size,i go to our local drapery where i buy good quality mens tees for $5 each,these are round necks,which i convert to v necks and add embellishments e.g. reverse applique,appliques

    1. Hi Glenda, nice to hear from you. That’s a great idea! Thanks.

  7. Luxury gifts for women says:

    I googled Greg Mann!!! He is remarkable. I love his work. It’s so beautiful and inspiring.

    I used to live on Brunswick street above a shop in the main hub. So many shops with beautiful stuff. I used to buy clothes at Hunter Gather sometimes. But prefered to Hunter Gather myself in Savers and small suburban op shops.

  8. I love op shops and have found some great bargains, but I’m still aware of buying things that I don’t need, just because they’re a bargain. That being said, some of my favourite garments are from op shops, and I’ve had them for years.

    My classic staple is black tops, long and short-sleeved, which I pair with colourful A-line skirts (generally from op shops), and there’s my fashion style. The other staple is black leggings, which can be worn with anything, and a couple of pairs of fleece-lined leggings for winter days in Melbourne.

    Clothes swaps with neighbours or friends are also fantastic!

    1. Melissa Goodwin says:

      Hi Elisa, thanks for sharing your classic wardrobe. Sounds simple yet elegant and flexible.