Old wins out in shopping quest

Last weekend I spent hours traipsing from shop to shop without luck.

On the hunt for a new winter coat and some new work outfits I had set off armed with my saved pennies ready to spend.

I began at the mall working my through boutiques, high street chains and department stores but by the end of the first weekend I had failed to buy anything. Nothing was quite right, and, even if it was I bulked at the price tag.

I also fretted over the quality of the item and whether the brand fitted my ethical criteria – namely how high it ranked on the Australian Fashion Report Card on worker exploitation. In the end a decision became too hard and I plodded home empty handed.

This weekend I was adamant I would buy something. I headed off to the same old shops hoping something would jump out at me or I would get to a point where I could convince myself spending $200 on a jacket was justifiable.clothes

A couple of hours later without opening my purse and with my energy flagging, I decided to head home via a visit to two second hand clothing stores.

The Brotherhood of St Laurence op-shop proved to be an undiscovered treasure trove. I picked up two basic tops in great condition and a comfy blue and white striped Yarra Trail cardi for $16.

I then hit the local Salvos store which I visit regularly. This time the clothing gods must have been smiling down on me as I rifled through the well organised racks.

I found a Wish button up cream coat with matching belt that, with a dry clean will be as good as new, plus a cute cropped charcoal Portman’s jacket.

The loot didn’t stop there – I also got a soft grey Zara basic blazer, a short A-line black and white patterned skirt, one Sunny Girl grey jumper with a studded neckline, a black Esprit cardigan, a Ladakh striped shirt dress, two fitted dresses perfect for work or a wedding and two necklaces. The grand total? $98.

I returned home triumphant in the knowledge I had enough new clothes to get me through winter and ethically, my mind was at ease.

Next time instead of leaving the op shop until the last resort, I’ll head there first and save myself a weekend.

What have been your best op-shop finds?

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Gift giving made easy this Christmas

I’m not big on Christmas – I don’t have a tree and Christmas carols were ruined for me after working in a department store. I don’t like the tacky nature of decorations and the sheer volume of stuff that fills the shops. But I do like the food….and gift giving.

I managed to do about 80% of my Christmas shopping yesterday afternoon – all locally from up the street. I’m lucky to live in walking distance to a high street of eclectic shops making it easy for me to buy nearly everything for those on my list. The rest I’ll probably do online to avoid the crush of big shopping centres.

I appreciate why many don’t like gift giving at Christmas – the stress, the expense, the time wasted, the waste created… but I like to give, and let’s be honest, I also like to receive gifts.

Christmas is the one time I truly splash out – I don’t really give presents during the year, only for milestone birthdays or weddings.

This year my family and I have given each other a list of ideas to help make the process easier. Some think this is pointless and it’d be easier to just give money instead but I like it. I pick a few items from the lists but also throw in a few surprises.

I find Christmas a great time to get those things you wouldn’t normally buy yourself. Things like perfume, lip gloss or lipstick, jewellery, books, gym bags, or stationary.

For couples it’s a great time to stock up on bath towels, beach towels, and new sheets.

I also like to add some edible gifts such as homemade biscuits or granola, spice mixes (easy to make yourself), a bag of fancy coffee or some preserves.

Experiences are also a winner, especially for those who don’t like things cluttering up their home. Try a voucher for a workshop, cooking class, a restaurant, outdoor cinema, or year’s pass to the movies.

Have parents or grandparents that have everything? Give them a ‘voucher’ for a day out to the beach, or the hills – wherever they’d like to go for a drive and a meal.

To top it off why not add in a donation to the charity of your choice such as The Smith Family, Oxfam or the Asylum Seekers Centre.

Don’t let gift giving overwhelm you – shop locally where you can or online, and think outside the box to keep things on the cheap and easy side.