Shabby chic: Top tips for buying recycled and vintage clothing

Less is more. Top tips for shopping on a shoe-string budget.

Less is more. Top tips for shopping on a shoe-string budget.

YOU don’t have to dig deep into your pockets to look a million bucks. Shopping at recycled or pre-loved clothing stores can really help you maximise your dollars and cents. It’s also kinder on the environment.

The Meld Magazine team took a recent trip down to the recycling superstore Savers (330 Sydney Rd, Brunswick) with sustainable fashion enthusiast Adeline Huang, and look what we found!

Savers is located at Sydney Rd, Brunswick. Photo: Shaun Lee

Savers is located at Sydney Rd, Brunswick. Photo: Shaun Lee

You can find pretty much everything here. They don’t call it a recycled clothing superstore for nothing. Photo: Shaun Lee

A budget shopper is a thoughtful shopper, says Adeline.

“Impulsive, reckless shopping hurts the wallet and results in wasted money, storage space, time, and diminishes the value of the labour and materials that went into the garment.”

Among her top tips – don’t shop when hungry. It makes you buy more impulsively.

If you’re looking for something specific, shop like a woman (or man) on a mission. Having a goal and knowing what you are looking for can save you a lot of time and the frustration of going home empty-handed. For example, if you are in need a good pair of pants, steer yourself away from the pretty dresses and head straight to the trousers rack.

Shabby chic: Here, Eleanor is dressed in a red knitted jumper $4.99, denim shirt $7.99, skinny jeans and boots (model’s own). Total cost: $12. Photo: Shaun Lee

On the flipside, browsing aimlessly can be therapeutic and the chance of finding random treasures in a place like Savers is pretty high. Either way, scoring something cool is awesome.

And shop for your body type. Depending on your body type, you might even be able to find something in the men’s or kid’s section, so be patient and keep looking.

Knowing your own measurements and shopping with a tape measure can also help you decide whether it’s worth the trip to the fitting room. Measure the garment’s dimensions, and compare them to your own body straightaway.

Be creative and dare to mix and match. Long skirts can be worn as a dress around your bust. Eliza wears a checked shirt $4.99 over an orange silk skirt $4.99, pared with a black knitted cardigan ($9.99). Photo: Shaun Lee

Make sure it fits right. Sounds obvious, but it is easy to forget that clothing should fit you, and not the other way around. If it is too small, don’t buy it. If it is too large, think about whether you can alter it and whether you would make that effort and spend the extra money to do so.

Do make sure care labels are intact. Check labels for care and maintenance instructions. Do consider carefully if it is worth purchasing something that might cost a lot in upkeep, in terms of both time, effort and money.

And think about how much wear you will get out of your purchase and how versatile the garment can be, especially in terms of mixing and matching what is already in your wardrobe. How many ways can you wear it? Can you share and exchange pieces with your sister or mom, even?

Rock on. Eleanor tries on a strappy sequinned top $5.99, pink skinny jeans $7.99 and vintage leather jacket $29.99. Photo: Shaun Lee

Rock on. Eleanor tries on a strappy sequinned top $5.99, pink skinny jeans $7.99 and vintage leather jacket $29.99. Photo: Shaun Lee

Always check the quality of the make of the garment and for any damage that may or may not be easily fixable. For example, if buttons are missing, can you replace all the buttons? Is there a hole or rip that cannot be patched easily?

And think long term. If you are going to be thrifting a lot, picking up some sewing skills will help heaps, and you can get lots of satisfaction out of adding creative embellishments to your thrifted purchases.

Finally, why not shop with a friend who has a keen eye for fashion and can give you feedback and ideas, as well as encourage you to try out new looks?

Founded in 1954, Savers is a privately held for-profit international chain with more than 240 locations in the United States, Canada and Australia. In Victoria, Savers works with its not-for-profit partners Diabetes Australia – Victoria (DAV) and SIDS & Kids Victoria, purchasing used clothing and household items that the organisations collect as donations from the community. The items are then sorted and items not suitable for resale are recycled then forwarded domestically and internationally where they benefit people most in need.

Students can save even more by shopping at Savers on Sundays. All you have to do is show your student ID for 20 per cent off purchases. Visit the Savers website for more information.

Have you shopped at Savers? Where do you go to buy recycled, pre-loved or vintage clothing?

There are 7 comments

  1. Donna McMaster

    Hi Karen,

    Thanks for spending some time in our Store… thrilled that you found some great stuff; the product looked amazing on your website.
    Hope that we get to see you again soon.

    Donna McMaster, MD Savers

  2. Trinity Dean

    We have a very similar store in Auckland called Savemart & it was my absolute favourite place to shop. I wish there was a Savers store in Sydney.

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