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Op-shops are a fantastic, easy way to refresh your wardrobe without forking out hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars. Plus, you’re also giving back to the community and charitable organisations. But let’s face it, being confronted by seemingly endless racks of clothing, boxes of shoes, bags and accessories and shelves of household items can be pretty daunting. So, to help you get the most out of your local Vinnies or Salvation Army, we’ve rounded up some of the best tips around.

1. Bring a bag – Many op-shops don’t provide shopping baskets or trolleys, so it’s best to bring a big tote bag to carry around all your items – just make sure you notify the staff so they don’t get the wrong idea!

2. Ignore the size tag – Unless it’s a newer item or brand (think 90s onwards), take the size with a grain of salt. Modern sizes can be drastically different to those in the 80s and earlier, so use your judgement to identify if it could fit.

3. Set a budget – Op-shops provide a lot more bang for your buck, so you could feasibly buy a few outfits for less than $75. That being said, because items can be so affordable, it’s easy to go overboard. With that in mind, create a budget you think you can realistically stick to a stop as soon as you’ve reached it – or even before.

4. Donate – If you’re going to be filling your wardrobe with a few new items, why not take the opportunity to cull pieces you rarely wear or no longer need and donate them to the store in person.

5. Inspect – You might think an item looks great at first sight, but it’s important to examine it from all angles, turn it inside out and check for any imperfections, loose threads or tears.

6. Avoid certain items – Clothes are generally good to go, but a few op-shop “finds” should be avoided. Helmets, mattresses, makeup, children’s safety equipment, stuffed animals, appliances, underwear and running shoes are all big no-nos.

7. Think creatively – A piece of clothing or household item might not be perfect, but with a few small tweaks, it could be. When shopping around, think about changes that could be made to the item to make it suit your needs. It might be time to get the sewing kit out!

8. Explore – Don’t be afraid to travel further afield than your local. Stores in more affluent areas generally have higher quality products that aren’t usually much more expensive.

Tell us in the comments below, what’s been your best op-shop find?

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