Op Shopping for Clothes

I recently bought a dress from a local op shop for $2.00! You can see the lovely blue and white print in the photo. It has hardly been worn, is beautifully made and is a perfect fit. I am looking forward to wearing it next summer.

There are a number of good reasons to take up op shopping for clothes. The obvious one is that it saves money. Secondly, it supports charitable organisations. Thirdly, it reduces waste by recycling and reusing items that are not ready for landfill.

The article I have linked below explores the ethical dilemmas of shopping for clothes. If you have the time, it is worth reading and builds a good argument for op shopping.


Op shopping for clothes is a relatively new phenomenon for me. I was dubious at first, thinking it would be an unpleasant experience but with a little help I learned some tips and with practice I have developed more confidence.

Since learning how to op shop for clothes I have bought jeans, canvas shoes, coats, shirts, blouses, trousers, dresses, knitwear, scarves, handbags and jackets. Some items have been brand new (tags on), most have been designer label and all have been in excellent condition. I did a check this week and at present there are about 50 items in my wardrobe (including shoes and accessories) that were purchased in an op shop.

It all started with a friend of mine who had taken on a ‘buy nothing new for a year’ challenge and she was adamant that I needed to learn how to op shop for clothes. She was right because I had just started working again after having my children. My new job required ‘corporate wear’ which was a bit daunting! I only had a few suitable items in my wardrobe and there was no way I could afford to buy any thing else new. My friend did me a great kindness by teaching me how to op shop for clothes and I learned a life changing skill.

Here are my tips:

  • Have a running list of items that you would like to add to your wardrobe so you don’t make unnecessary purchases. Know what you need and want!
  • When you get to the op shop pick the type of item you need – i.e. dress, jacket, jeans
  • Find the rack with your size
  • Scan for a colour that you enjoy wearing
  • Decide if you like the style and cut of the item
  • Feel the fabric to see if you like the texture and weight of it
  • Check the label for more information – brand, type of fabric, washing instructions
  • Check the condition of the item – any tears? pulls? stains? damage?
  • Check the price
  • Try it on – does it fit well? does it suit you? do you feel comfortable and happy in it?

My main advice is to be curious and open minded but also super selective. Also be willing to wait. You may only find one or two items on your list at a time. There is a serendipitous aspect to op shopping that is fun. If you are patient, you will find some gems!

My favourite op shops in the Blue Mountains:

  • Foothills Eco, Glenbrook
  • Vinnies, Blaxland
  • Rotary Recycles Op Shop, Blaxland
  • Salvos Store, Springwood
  • Vinnies, Springwood
  • Red Cross Shop, Leura
  • Vinnies, Katoomba

There is also an op shop strip along High Street in Penrith:

  • Anglicare Op Shop
  • Red Cross Shop
  • Salvos Store
  • The Smith Family (82 Station Street)