I’ve been working my way towards a Capsule Wardrobe for several months now, but buying stylish clothes while on a budget can be difficult. I decided to hit-up my local op-shops to attempt to create a Capsule Wardrobe. When I was fourteen, I went into an op-shop with one of my friends. I remember walking in and being enveloped in this distinct smell of mould, dust, and overly sweet perfume. I bought a grey men’s shirt that read “ALASKA” and – as I realised later – had snot stains on the sleeves. That memory stayed with me, tainting my view of second-hand clothes from random strangers, and I didn’t go to an op-shop again for years.
Early last year I had a dress-up party where I decided to go as Veronica Sawyer from The Heathers. Unfortunately, my very 2018 wardrobe didn’t contain any 80s-style blazers and skirts. I couldn’t justify spending money for a costume that I would never wear again, so – for a second time – I decided to try op-shopping. Surprisingly, it was fine! I managed to find an entire costume for less than 20 bucks, none of which contained strange stains.
Since then, I’ve frequented op-shops – always scanning through the clothes to try and find something perfect. There are some really beautiful things, but some part of me can’t get past the idea of wearing someone else’s clothes. Could I be wearing the dress that someone died in? Possibly! I’ll never know! Ugh. The idea of it gives me the heebie-jeebies. I decided I needed to toughen up. After all, I had donated some well-loved, well-looked-after clothes before. Most people would do the same, right?
So, I decided to finally finish my Capsule Wardrobe.
First, I had to shop my closet. I had a list of things I wanted in my Capsule, but I’d started this journey a little while ago so I already had some core items. After sorting through it all, I had a list of what I needed to complete my wardrobe:
- Leather jacket/faux-leather jacket
- Blue skinny jeans
- Black coat
- Bulky sweater (grey or tan)
- Little black dress
I had my list and a few destinations in mind. I just had to set myself some rules.
- Do NOT spend over $150 in total. (Generous budget, right?)
- Only buy what’s on the list – no impulse buys!
- Only buy the item if it fits well – dress for the body I have, not for the body I might grow into.
- Only buy the item if I love it! If I don’t love it in the store, I’m not going to wear it!
Off I went on my journey, armed with my list, my rules, and my reusable bags.
First stop – Salvos Wollongong. It’s a fairly decent sized op-shop with a lot of good stuff. I browsed through the women’s section, and I found… nothing. Well, there were nice things. Beautiful dresses, gorgeous skirts, and just generally nice Summer clothes – none of which were on the list. I left the store empty handed.
Second stop – Mission Australia Wollongong. My favourite op-shop! I’ve found many goodies here before – brand-new handbags, photo frames, gorgeous prints of beautiful cottages, and wonderful smelling soaps. I had a quick look around, stumbling upon a gorgeous black dress which was perfect – a great V-neck, not too revealing but not too modest, the ideal length, and a beautiful, high-quality material. It was love at first sight, aside from it being three sizes too small. Ugh.
I rushed off after that let-down, only being able to stop in quickly before class.
The next day I tried again. Mission Australia was having a fantastic sale, opening the doors of their warehouse in Cringila and selling new clothes at $8/kg. Amazing! When we went in, it was filled with people. There were racks and huge bins filled with both warehouse-new and second-hand clothes. I had to push past tens of people to even get to the racks.
The huge bins were filled with brand new clothes which were packaged in plastic. There were a few nice dresses – all feeling thin and looking somewhat see-through – which were way too small for me. There was a table filled with new jeans and sweaters. After digging through for about five minutes, I found a gorgeous tan coloured knitted jumper. It was a little thinner than I was hoping, but perfect in every other way. I also stumbled upon a rack of men’s jackets; among them was a perfect black leather jacket. My size, a seemingly perfect fit, and definitely what I was looking for.
I raced off to grab my boyfriend for a second opinion, but when I came back it was gone. Vanished into thin air. No, it wasn’t moved. It hadn’t fallen. It was merely gone. In that mess and confusion, my knitted jumper had fallen off my arm somewhere. I later spotted a woman walking around with it on her arm. We never did find that leather jacket.
And so we left with somewhat of a successful haul – two 3D puzzles, a boardgame, a magnet, a basket, a pirate-themed watch, and a poker set for a total of $21. I left, defeated by my Capsule Wardrobe journey. I stopped by Mission Australia Wollongong again and decided to give it a second shot.
Alas! With more time, I struck a jackpot. On the right-hand side of the store was a huge rack filled with warehouse-new stock – jackets, blazers, and coats galore. Some were too big, some were too small, some fit perfectly, hanging down to my ideal length. I managed to pick up a black coat for $35 (did I mention it was brand new?) and a brown, almost black vintage leather jacket $40.
So, after three op-shops and two days, I managed to tick off two items on my list. Was this harder than I thought? Yes. Was sizing difficult? Absolutely. Was it worth it to find great quality clothing at reasonable prices while supporting opportunity shops? 100%. Will I be op-shopping again to finish off my list? Definitely. Wish me luck on my next op-shop adventure!