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What's your best op shop bargain? Canberra's fashionistas tell all

Menswear, women's wear, casual and chic - you can find your style without emptying your pockets if you're prepared to treasure hunt. Here are tips from five Canberra fashionistas.

Grant Heino

Menswear and lifestyle blogger at Ink and Leathers

Fashion find: A Rembrandt Sartorial navy pinstriped merino wool blazer.

Where I found it: Last year at the Vinnies Monster Warehouse Sale I was looking for a navy pinstriped blazer. I initially passed this one over because my sunglasses made it look like a gross colour, but my friend insisted I try it on. I fell in love straight away.

How much did it cost? The price tag read $12, which was a steal. However, when I got to the register the staff informed me that it was actually half-price, and so I only paid $6 for it.

What I love about it: A navy blazer is such a versatile staple for anyone's wardrobe, and I've collected quite a few in my time. I had one tailored in Hong Kong, and this $6 job from Vinnies fits me better, it's better quality, and wins me tonnes of compliments. The tailored job hasn't been worn in months.

Best tip for op shopping: Have a loose plan. Don't go into it thinking "I am going to find a 1950s Balenciaga​" or "Today's the day I find an authentic KISS t-shirt". That's just not going to happen. But if you go into it thinking loosely about what you want, such as "I'm looking for a navy wool blazer that fits well", I really believe you have a better chance of finding yourself a gem.

Favourite op shop: The Vinnies Monster Warehouse Sale is really hard to beat, although the huge Salvos in Kingston (near the Fyshwick markets) is really great too.

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Best ever op-shop find? The Bally hand rolled and stitched silk scarf that I'm wearing as a cravat. It only cost me $5.

Natasha Rudra's favorite op-shop purchase: A pair of leather shoes.

Natasha Rudra's favorite op-shop purchase: A pair of leather shoes. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Natasha Rudra

Lifestyle and entertainment editor, The Canberra Times

Fashion find: Vintage leather heeled brogues.

Where I found it: Fossicking in an op shop in Woden a few months ago. Vintage shoes and clothes often don't fit me – everyone seems to have had smaller feet, women were shorter and definitely thinner. But for some reason I tried these shoes and they fit perfectly. When the woman next to me said "Oh darl, they look great", I was sold.

How much did they cost? $5. It still says $5 on the little Vinnies sticker on the insole.

What I love about them: They are gorgeous – classically formal if required and yet snappily casual. I feel like a sharp dresser in them. And they're really comfortable – they've got an inch or two of height but they don't feel like a heel at all. The only problem is they squeak when I walk and the inners are peeling so I've got to fix that.

Best tip for op shopping: Be prepared to say no. Don't buy it unless you really like it. I've got too many items in my closet that were picked up from an op shop with the proviso that "I'll just fix that button" or "If I take up the hem and wear a slip underneath it will fit me". Then I never wear them. Don't do it. If it's not perfect, put it back. And if you do buy it and find you don't wear it – donate it again so the great charities that run op shops can make more money out of it. You only paid $7.

Favourite op shop: I love the Weston Creek Salvos because it's a real community op shop – I've never been in there without striking up a conversation with a volunteer staffer or a fellow shopper. It's just incredibly friendly.

Best ever op-shop find? Browsing through the racks in an op shop in Savannah, Georgia, while on holiday last year. I came across a black-and-white patterned Michael Kors​ top with a cool zipper detail. I think it was $8. It got a lot of wear all summer and even as the weather grew cooler, over the top of a black skivvy.

Jemma Mrdak

Stylist and blogger at A Stylish Moment

Fashion find: A vintage Burberry denim jacket. 

Where I found it: While shopping in SoHo New York City in summer last year. My Mum and I stumbled across a gorgeous op shop that sold high-quality, thrifted pieces. After much rummaging around we found this beautiful Burberry denim jacket that was in mint condition. There was no need to even think about it, I just had to have it. 

How much did it cost? $US250. 

What I love about it: I love that it is trans-seasonal. I can wear it throughout the year. It has button detailing on the cuffs, but also the ability to turn the cuffs up to show the iconic Burberry print. I also love that it fits right in with the other pieces in my wardrobe. 

Best tip for op shopping: Definitely take the time to have a good look around the store and spend time browsing through the racks of clothes. There are always going to be hidden gems that you won't find unless you spend the time. If you can, try an item on before you purchase. There is nothing worse than spending the money on a good thrifted piece, and then not actually wearing it because it doesn't fit or suit you. 

Best ever op-shop find? I found a vintage Hermes envelope clutch along Portobello Road in London last year. Let's just say it was a great trip for finding thrifted designer pieces. I love the Hermes clutch because it is extremely versatile and can fit so much in it. I also love it because I bought it in my favourite city in the the world.

Janette Lenk

Stylist and editor at The Fashion Vault

Fashion find: Versace embellished belt.

Where I found it: When I was living in Sydney I went through a stage of collecting vintage designer pieces, from fur to belts and Chanel bags.

How much did it cost? $8, now probably worth $200.

What I love about it: The fact that I found it for $8, it's Versace and it doesn't even look worn. It's such a versatile piece, if I'm wearing something simple it will give my look instant edge. If I want to belt up a dress or cardigan it's great for that too. The hardware on it is incredible and it's pretty heavy.

Best tip for op shopping: Be open minded, you just don't know what you might find. You go in to find a record for your interior at home and you come out with a belt. It's one of those things I really have to be in the mood for these days; but if you go through the racks with a fine-tooth comb you'll be sure to find something. And shop at not-so-busy thrift stores.

Luke Chiswell's best op-shop find: Surplus mining glasses.

Luke Chiswell's best op-shop find: Surplus mining glasses. Photo: Supplied

Luke Chiswell

Visual artist

Fashion find: Surplus mining glasses. 

Where I found them: Hunting around a Kingston op shop. 

How much did it cost? $5

What I love about them: I love the fade at the bottom of the frames and unit number stamped on the side. 

Best tip for op shopping: Be nice to the staff and make a wish for something special. 

  • Support the 2015 National Op Shop Week and "Op Until You Drop" from August 23-30. Join the Salvation Army's Style Army and reinvent fashion, with a fashion parade in the Phillip store on September 3 and other activities throughout the week.