Thrift Shopping: The Truth About Op-Shopping

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I love thrift shopping, most of the items pictured here I bought second-hand. However, I think that we need to demystify thrift shopping and talk about it truthfully. It isn’t all vintage silk scarves and affordable designer labels. Sometimes it’s weird stains. Other’s it’s just bad taste!


This past weekend, for the first time in a long time, I found myself thrift shopping.

I have grown up with a love of buying from thrift or op shops, originally as necessity and now as a passion for the thrill of the hunt. I love the act of rifling through piles of clothes that nobody loves any more on the off-chance that I might just find that one remarkable piece the really ties together an outfit, or supplements my existing collect of slightly-different navy blazers, or is a style that I am curious about but not enough to invest in something expensive that may ultimately look like shit on me. There are so many possibilities when you thrift, it really is anyone’s game.

That said, I think that there is a common misconception that op shops are this amazing treasure-trove of amazing vintage pieces, pre-loved designer good, and that you will walk in and instantly find what you are looking for that day. The vintage clothing trend and Etsy really have a lot to bloody answer for in that regard! So, high off my thrift triumphs over the weekend, let me share some simple truths about the world of op shopping.

  1. Op Shops sort of hate you. To get a little metaphysical on you for a moment, a thrift store is a garbage tip for clothes and books and crockery. It is a place where pieces that people loved and treated well are suddenly tossed aside and dumped. If you’re even a tiny bit spiritually open, this is a graveyard of bits and pieces of people’s lives that they feel they no longer need. The clothes are angry they have been thrown away, and they’re cautious of getting their hopes up and having them crushed again. They do not want to go home with you. Every wonder why it’s so hard to find exactly what you’re looking for?
  2. Macklemore and Etsy lied to you. Just because you got it in a thrift store doesn’t make it cool. Like all other areas in life, if you have shitty taste, no amount of buying into a trend is going to save you. You see people every day who look like the shop at op shops, and you know what that is? THEY HAVE BAD TASTE! A truly successful thrift-merchant doesn’t look like they’re shopping anywhere different, and their pre-loved pieces blend seamlessly into their existing style.
  3. Your chances of finding designer or vintage gold are almost zero. Sure, you might find yourself a nice Ralph Lauren Oxford shirt or a well made pair of slacks from Country Road, but if you think that you’re going to put you hand on a Birkin or even something ready-to-wear from Gucci, you’re sorely mistaken. Op Shops are curated, and 90% of the designer stuff never makes it to the shop floor. Further more, most people who can actually afford designer pieces don’t actually give them away to thrift stores – they wear them to death!
  4. Be prepared to compromise. You might find a lovely wool blazer in a colour that you love and a near-perfect size, and it might seem like love at first sight, but that blazer is hiding something! It might have a discretely placed stain you won’t discover until you get it home, or it might have really obvious and disgusting gold buttons. Maybe it has a lingering old-person smell that it will take a crime scene clean-up crew to get rid of. I cannot say for sure what it is, but there is something about it you won’t love – and you need to be prepared to accept that.

So there you have it – those are some of my hard-earned truths about op shopping. What are yours? Let me know in the comments down below, I’d love to hear them!