When I first began op shopping some of the things I bought and subsequently wore in public were pretty disastrous. I would see polka dots or a cute floral pattern and without a second thought it would be mine. I bought clothes that were too big, I picked items regardless of holes or discolouration, I wore hideously shaped dresses because I liked the collar and in general I was not picky enough. But as I’ve gotten older I’ve learnt the importance of quality fabric, good condition and a great fit.
I still love trawling through the racks and stands of op shops and markets around Brisbane when I get the chance, but now my checklist reads like this:
- Is it in good condition? (no holes, stains or pulls)
- Is the fabric breathable and comfortable? (I have way too many sweaty synthetic dresses as it is and definitely don’t need another)
- Does it fit, or if not, does it have the potential to be well-fitted and flattering?
I have friends with killer legs that look fabulous in 1960s shifts and others with a boho style that suits 1970s crops and kaftans perfectly. But for my shape I know 1950s dresses suit me best. The style of that era is demure and feminine, usually with a nipped-in waist and a bigger skirt. Knowing what works and doesn’t work on your own body is so much more important than trying a trend because it looks good on someone else.
I’ve spoken before of my love for a certain Brisbane-based alterations business and I recently paid another visit to the wonderful ladies at Doree’s. First dress on the chopping block was this darling golden 1950s wiggle dress I found on Etsy.
I thought it was going to fit perfectly because the waist and bust measurements were spot on, but alas the bottom half was made for a woman with a smaller derriere than mine. Luckily there was enough extra fabric in the seams to let out the booty, while taking in the bottom of the skirt. So what could have been a waste of an online purchase became my new favourite party dress.
A very stylish friend of mine recently inspired me when she had the big, billowy sleeves removed from a vintage market find to reveal a chic, understated sleeveless frock. I had a look in my wardrobe and realised I could do the same with two beautiful, but perhaps a little overwhelming dresses. I’m a complete idiot and forgot to take before pics, but here is the wonderful result of my sleeve-removal makeover.
Please share any other vintage shopping tips and tricks you use.