Opportunity knocks: How I scored four clothing items for $8.75 66



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Loving clothes and being poor as a church mouse can be a difficult combination. Yet I can wear some really fantastic designer threads and dress up for a special dinner with hardly a dent in the budget. I have a favourite ‘op’ shop and an eagle eye when I go travelling. I bought a white woollen coat, a classic style, when I was on a trip once – it cost me $12. It costs more to have cleaned than I paid! My method is to have in mind the colours I like, the shapes that suit me and the price has to be right. I have been shopping in charity shops for years. In the UK, I used to go to Oxfam. Then in the 70s there were beautifully made dresses and fringed shawls for sale at very good prices. Oh how I remember the dance when I wore the cerise banlon dress, an “Ossie Clark” designer outfit. It clung and draped and fell to the floor, and I felt a million dollars in it. Cost? Two pounds! Then there were the fur jackets at bargain prices, I would not even think of wearing them now! Fur was not so frowned on then.

I suppose the real joy is for a few dollars I can have some retail therapy and since I’m not able to spend big, I just have fun spending $10.

The charity business has had to change though, and I am sad to see some prices in city stores are soaring. Generally I shop locally, where prices are lower, combining a grocery shop day in the next town to a quick fashion hunt. This week is National OP Shop Week and I benefitted as they has a 50 per cent off sale! I had barely 15 minutes but went in to swoop on things. I found a ‘special occasion’ jacket in the sale for $2.50. I will wear to a dinner in the future (I have a very optimistic outlook and hope the chance of a night out will appear). Other bargains over the years have been a silver hallmarked chain, a diamante necklace, a wonderful mustard Carla Zampatti trouser suit, a velvet jacket I paid $10 for and found the label still saying $109.00 attached. Many strappy tops I wear under cardigans and as underwear. Scarves by the dozen, and handbags. Earrings that are unusual and bracelets to cheer up an outfit.

Household items and antique treasures still appear, but are more likely to be snapped up by dealers before we get a chance. If you have to re furnish you can save a fortune if you go to Vinnies or another of the larger shops. Chairs for as little as $5, and good tables are under $20. They are no longer able to sell electrical items which is no problem, after all the chain store prices are cheap now. Ornaments and vases are a fraction of the cost. For students setting up home the basic plates and cups are affordable. Large curtains can be cut down and hemmed to make bedcovers. Then of course for fun there are ‘dress up’ clothes’, every kid should have a dress up box for rainy days. Far better than the leggo bits we step on.

I have photographed four of the items I bought yesterday – total cost $8.75, as they had the half-price sale. One item would have cost that much, the dark blue jacket is Liz Jordan, and the other two have designer labels too. So go and look, I promise not all the shops have shapeless cardigans, use your eyes, hunt the shelves; another plus to remember, these days things are washed so they usually have no problems. You may find nothing, but then there are always the books to look at. My daughter buys toys for her dog to destroy. Buttons and belts can yield treasures too. I also have a collection of waistcoats in all colours. They cover a multitude of sins, or an excess of flesh! Your local op shop needs your support so go and look, whatever you buy will help someone else. I also recycle regularly and take my mistakes to another shop… the clothes go round in circles but still make money for the cause. Happy hunting.

Blue glitter

Fringed shawl0

001black evening

How often do you go op shopping? Do you enjoy the thrill?

Jacqui Lee

Jacqui Lee is 75 and now retired but the last ten years or so have been some of her busiest. She worked at a hospital, where she took several Certificated courses, she cleaned a school, helped to run two conventions, wrote short stories, started painting, and in fact is never bored even now, "I honestly feel we are lucky to still be upright and breathing, and my motto is, Remember yesterday, dream of tomorrow, but live today. I love fun, clothes, food and friends."

  1. It would not be the salvos they charge way too much for donated clothing.

    1 REPLY
    • they are all expensive now unfortunately. A church rummage sale gives better value

  2. 90% of my wardrobe is from op shop. My fave shop has $1 sales which I like to take advantage of .

  3. I love it. Thank you for a great take on op shopping. I am a fan, but don’t often have time for a good browse. I do have the eagle eye scan though and can spot a good label at a distance. My daughter has inherited my skill

    1 REPLY
    • My daughter has too! she lives in the UK in a country town and finds great clothes to dress and look good in. Its a sort of sport and we compare our treasures on Skype.

  4. I just love your bargain buys Jaqui. My husbby and l visit our local Anglicare op shop and sometimes we are fortunate to get some half price specials. Just this week l bought a beautiful grey king size doona cover and pillow slips for $8 , two beautiful famed bird prints 1956 /1959 by Murr of Germany $2 each , a pair of joggers for my hubby for $6 and two coffee cups 50 cents each. We were so excited by our bargain buys. Our quilt cover looks a million dollars on our bed and it is clear it had not been used very much. I love bargain shoping and as my hubby is now on a disability pension and l on a full time carer pension, it is the only way we can get the things we need and those little treasures one collects. Cheers and thanks for your inspiring story Jaqui.

    1 REPLY
    • You have the right attitude, and remember we are also helping (hopefully) others who are struggling, a win win situation, and well done!

  5. At least 80% of my wardrobe is either op shop or market clothing! The buzz you get when you find something perfect for your self! I occasionallt buy new but it is usually in sales and costs a fraction of when new! My favourite is “Blue Illusion” at DFO when they have specials the are awesome

  6. Same here, bought two 100% merino wool, silk lined long jackets for winter – top designer labels $18 each!! Then I had them both dry cleaned and that cost me more than the jackets. Everyone always comments on how nice they are.

  7. I love op shopping, get my dogs toys there and pick up craft goods especially my over supply of wool, can’t help myself.

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