I was the only kid not wearing shiny, black Clarkes on my first school photograph day. Sitting in the front row, alongside my fellow, fun-size Kindergarten-ers (I prefer to describe vertically challenged people, like myself, as “fun-size”, rather than short, small, etc. Sounds endearing, right?), Mum had sent me to school wearing a pair of second hand, brown leather rock climbing boots. I remember showing some of my friends this photo a few years ago; as they barked like hyenas, I wondered what they were laughing at - the fact that my Mum sent me to school in op shop attire, or that, to this day, I sport similar, weird and wacky, outfits?
I am not alone in this venture - a member of the vintage and op shop scene. Just take a walk around your neighbourhood shopping centre; people are decked out, head to toe, in recycled clothing and vintage shoes, bags, and accessories. Although, the hypocrisy that some of these people are encompassing – conforming alongside a troop of other fashion fad-ists (Urban Dictionary would have a field day sifting through my blog posts and articles for new terms and phrases) striving to be an individual within an already heavily consumerist and conformist society – their looks are becoming predictably typical of the ‘vintage’ category. Not convinced? Well, this accusation is justified through the increasing popularity of Doc Martens. I was once called “Stomper” for teaming my worn-out black Docs with a 1950’s inspired, Rockabilly frock when going out for drinks with friends. Two years later, and those same, name-calling girls are embracing this sassy, edgy look, stomping their hypocritical arses around every pub, club, restaurant… you get my point. Fashion fad-ists and walking contradictions, indeed. What was once original, distinguished and quaint is now generic, mediocre and cliché.
Ah, but fear not readers (I think my readership only really extends as far as my boyfriend, who I am sure is not too crash hot on receiving shopping and style tips. Did I mention that he too has been wearing Docs for years?), I have a solution to defeat and overcome the now ‘normative’ practice of op shopping: garage sales. People are stinging to separate with their preloved threads, selling them at very low prices in order to clear out their unwanted goods, either because they are preparing to move out, or making room for new bits and pieces. As the overused saying goes: out with the old and in with new. What’s ironic about this is that I get more compliments on the vintage clothes I buy for 50 cents than the pieces I actually have invested a substantial amount of money in.
So, while sipping on a cup of English Breakfast and picking apart and devouring a lemon iced cupcake on a Friday afternoon, be sure to remember to pick up your local newspaper and jot down the Saturday morning garage sales happening in your local area. Reinventing your wardrobe has never been more refreshing, affordable... and fun!