Balenciaga dreams do come true!

I had an op-shop experience last week that made me believe dreams really can come true.

A friend and I set out for an afternoon of op-shopping on Saturday. The glorious sunshine made my friend implore me to stop for a drink (hey, I only had lemonade – I was driving!) before our shopping trip.

Fate? Maybe. Because the first op-shop we walked into on Chapel Street had a bag I have been lusting after for a long time – a Balenciaga City bag.

Now, it wasn’t in my preferred colour (it’s acid green), but still… a genuine Balenciaga bag for $60? SOLD.




It had been in the shop for 30 minutes at that point.

I’m not sure if my op-shop luck has built up because I haven’t been able to op-shop as much time as I would like recently (study commitments etc), or if I was simply in the right place at the right time.

All I can say is, this is possibly the best find I have had in my op-shopping career. I love my hand bags, and this buy has left me with a week-long high of shopper gratification.

Have you ever found that one thing you never expected to find at an op-shop?


A wedding dress on a budget

Some readers may remember I wrote a post last year about my feelings on buying a second-hand wedding dress. My opinions haven’t changed since I got engaged, and so a little while ago I invited my sisters (a.k.a. bridesmaids) to go on a wedding dress op-shopping day with me.




Things learned on this trip:

1. Always, always take some one with you. Wedding dresses can be bl**dy hard to get into without help.
2. Don’t go with expectations. Just go to have fun.
3. Be aware that everyone (staff, customers) like to get involved and comment when you are trying on wedding dresses.
4. If you’re not sure, leave a deposit for the store to hold the dress.

But anyway, I met my sisters at Malvern and we hit up the Vinnies store there. They have an excellent (if pricey) range of wedding dresses.

As it happened, the first dress I tried turned out to be ‘the one’. It requires two people to help me get into it, but it fitted like a glove and apparently looks amazing. (Sorry, if you’re hoping for a full picture you’ll have to wait until mid-next year!)




Being a conscientious op-shopper, I wasn’t convinced that the first dress I tried on could possibly be the best. So I left a deposit and we moved onto Richmond/Abbotsford.

There are two Salvos stores in those suburbs that have sections dedicated to wedding dresses. (They’re actually like mini-departments.) I tried on about 10 more dresses, but nothing was quite right.





So, back to the first dress?

Both of my sisters loved it. One of them overheard a customer saying that I looked beautiful. Friends responded positively (some slightly tearily) that it was amazing.

So I bought it. And the final test (my Mum), was also positive (yay!).

This dress cost me $200. It is by a European designer whose dresses currently retail for between $2-3K. I would guess that it is an ex-stock dress donated by a boutique, because it still had it’s tags and hasn’t been altered.

So, dress sorted. Now we just need to deal with everything else!

And I need to find my shoes.


My top picks for wedding dress op-shopping in Melbourne:

The Salvos in Abbotsford

The Salvos in Richmond

The Vinnies in Malvern



Upcycling a Milo tin

I had an idea the other day on how to upcycle a large tin. We go through a large tin of Milo every couple of weeks in my household (you don’t even want to know how quick the Vegemite goes!), and I’ve been wanting to experiment with sponge painting. So I thought, perhaps I can use a Milo can as a planter.


dab at the paint


Erica from Recycled Fashion had great success with the iconic limited edition Campbell’s Condensed Tomato Soup cans, so why not create your own version for an indoor pot?

What you will need:

One large empty can (washed – I used a Milo can)
A drill
Some newspaper pages
An old sponge that is cut into smaller pieces
Two tubes of acrylic paint (colours of your choice)
A plate or flat surface to squeeze the paint on
Potting mix
A plant (suitable for the conditions it will be in)


Step one:

Drill some small holes in the bottom of the tin to allow for water drainage. I planned to use the lid from the tin as the water catcher underneath the plant once it was finished. (Don’t over-water the plant though, because the lid is quite shallow!)

Step two:

Set up your newspaper on a table and put some dollops of paint on the plate. I also dampened my sponges before I started to paint.


paint and sponges


Step three:

Start applying paint! I decided to use blue and white colours to go for a ‘cloud’ effect. I would recommend applying the darker colour first, then adding the lighter colour. I applied a thick amount of paint to the sponges, then lightly dabbed it onto the tin because I wanted to create a pebbly texture effect. Once you are finished, allow the paint to dry. Acrylic paint dries quite quickly, but because I applied a thick amount I left it overnight.


Dabbing on blue and white

the painted result


Step four:

I took my can outside for this step, but if you’re doing it inside you should lay down more newspaper. Fill it with potting mix to the appropriate level, then add your plant! My flat gets minimum sunlight, so I chose a type of creeping viola. I think it will look quite pretty when it grows to spill over the side. If you have a sunny spot though, you might prefer a succulent or cacti.


the potting mix

filled with potting mix



Step five:

Water the plant into it’s new home, then voila! You are done!


the final product

finished product 2



The Red Cross ‘Recycle Love’ call out

Calling all designers and artists! The Red Cross on Bridge Road is looking for volunteers to help create an upcycling recycled fashion event. This store always has fabulous merchandising and possibly the friendliest staff ever. I’m hoping to get involved later with this myself.


red cross


Here is the brief if you are interested:


This is a charity fashion event that we hope will bring attraction to our shop and raise funds for the Australian Red Cross.

We hope the event will be held around August or September 2014 at the Australian Red Cross Retail Shop – 191 Bridge Road, Richmond Victoria 3121.

We are looking for fashion designers and artists who can generously volunteer their time and skills to help us create an event about upcycling recycled fashion. This project is for a charitable organisation, so please understand we cannot pay designers but you will be contributing to a worthy cause.

You can be a dressmaker, costumier, jewellery designer, milliner, shoemaker, or a bag designer – we would love to hear from you.

The idea is to hand-pick preloved items of clothing and accessories (jewellery, shoes, hats, bags etc.) from our shop in Richmond. Your objective is to put your love and personal inspiration into them, reconstructing them into creative haute couture quality fashion pieces, which also must be wearable and practical. There should be a balance of creativity and practicality.

We want to appeal to everyday people, but wow them, too. Ask yourself, is this something I could wear and pull off?


window display


You must make a minimum of two items or outfits. Of course, you can make more if you want to. The garments and accessories must be professionally finished and sellable.

Please add a touch of red in your work to represent the Australian Red Cross.

Once you have chosen your items, you will need to develop your ideas and designs, and give a presentation to us.

We will post frequent updates on your progress over the weeks prior to the event on our facebook page. We hope to attract followers and customers by giving them a little peek and preview of your creations.

You must submit your finished products three weeks prior to the event.

Your work will be featured on a runway and will be on sale at the Red Cross Bridge Road shop on the night of the event. All proceeds will go to the Australian Red Cross.

Dates for selecting items, presentations and submissions are yet to be finalised.

We will select designers for this project based on your application.

Please express your interest by telling us about yourself and what you do, and include a few images of your work and any websites or links if you have any. We will contact you if you are successful.

Please send your applications asap, by Monday 17th March 2014 to: or


The Clothing Exchange is now online

I think I spoke too soon in my last post. There was another online revolution introduced on Sunday!

The Clothing Exchange has taken their swapping online. I attended a swap at NGV Melbourne as part of the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival, where it was also announced that we can now swap online.


NGV window

before the swap


The new web design looks great, and the idea of swapping online is an unusual one. It basically uses the same concept as a physical swap, where you can upload photos of your item and assign it a ‘button’ value. You can either swap directly with some one, or if they choose one of your items some of their button-currency will transfer to you. (There is detailed information about how it works here.)


the announcement


On this note, I would like to point out that there is a small charge and you do need to pay for postage.

Could this be the next big thing? The Clothing Exchange has grown rapidly in the last few years and continues to do so. The events are always fun, well-organised and a great way to recycle clothing. Hopefully the popularity will extend to the new online marketplace!

You can see the new website and check out the new swap shop by clicking here.

I do really like the idea, but I do always have fun and find great things at the physical swaps…


me swapping

one of my swaps


The latest op-shop apps

There are a couple of interesting apps and websites I’ve been using recently. There seems to be a shift in that more stores are trying to develop an online presence.

As you can imagine, this is a difficult process with second-hand items because there is only one in the store. Managers, staff and volunteers generally don’t have time to spend photographing and uploading things onto an online store.

This brings me to the first website I’ve been browsing. Op Rock acts as the middle man between stores and consumers. It’s an intriguing concept – they take the photos for the stores and list the items for sale on their website.

At the moment Op Rock is still in the fledgling stage, but the website is very clean and easy to use. The plan is to eventually become a nation-wide online store that caters to all op-shops – I wish them the best of luck!


Op Rock


In the meantime, they have also developed a nifty little Op Rock app. This is basically a location app for op-shops around Australia. It’s very easy to use, and very in-depth. You can tap a marker to see all of the op-shops in the area.

You can check out the website here, or download the app here.

The second website I found a good reference was Melbourne Op Shops. They have a comprehensive listing of stores around Melbourne and also sell op-shop purchases on an eBay store.

The Melbourne Op Shops app allows you to search for stores by location or browsing the various charities. While I found both the website and the app a little clunky to use, the app had one feature I loved. There is a “Directions…” link when you open a store for details, and it will give you instant directions from where you are at the time.


Melbourne Op Shops


You can see the website here, the eBay store here and check out the app here.

I wonder what new op-shop apps will pop up next?


Please note: I used both of these apps on an iPhone 4S/5S. 

Vinnies opens in Brunswick

Have you heard the news on the grapevine? A new Vinnies has opened in Brunswick.




I went along to have a look and it was absolutely frantic. I think they may have to install some extra change rooms – I witnessed an argument that nearly turned into a cat fight in the middle of the store! Recommendation: if you decide to go, wear tights and a singlet so you can just try on things in the store. (There was even a queue for the mirror outside the change rooms!)

The store itself it beautifully presented. Whichever visual merchandisers have been at work here have done a fabulous job. The store has a large boutique/vintage feel to it, which suits the Brunswick area perfectly. It’s large and spacious with some lovely displays.


great use of colour for a display



But it’s not just the layout. Every time you turn a corner there is some new wonder or curiosity to see. I could have easily spent two hours exploring.


bric-a-brac 1

jewellery wall


They also seem to have saved their best stock for this store, so there is a great variety of everything throughout the whole store. There seems to be a lot of seconds –  some of the stock is brand spanking new. I loved the mix of labels both men and women had to choose from (a silk Scanlan and Theodore dress is pictured below).


Scanlan & Theodore dress


I myself ended up walking away with a green Decjuba dress and a pair of brand new ankle boots (boots are forever my weakness).


trying on shoes


Remember: if you decide to visit, either get in early or be prepared to change in the store.

You can see it at:

107 Sydney Rd
VIC 3056

Ph: (03) 9380-4910

The Aussie answer to online shopping

Have you noticed that online shopping has taken off in a big way? I never thought that online stores would replace physical shopping – but experience has taught me that unless you have an online presence, you’re probably missing a large potential customer base.

Even op-shops and second hand stores are making an effort to get on the world wide web. Forget the conventional Trading Post, there are so many more options to choose from now!

I was recently introduced to Quicksales is an online marketplace that is purely Australian. Think eBay crossed with Gumtree, with an Australian twist and a much cleaner layout.


quicksales homepage


You can find almost anything on quicksales. I conducted a search on several random items that popped into my head, and everything from my car model to the Adobe Suite Student Edition was available. I also got quite side-tracked in the “Pets and Supplies” section – there are some seriously cute kittens on there, not to mention a crocodile!




The site has a classic and elegant layout. It’s easy to navigate between categories or search for items by state or suburb.

It’s also free and simple to sell an item. What I like about selling on quicksales is the ease of use. You don’t need an account, and you can pick the sale options that suit you. You can hold an auction or select the “Buy Now” option, and the advertisement will stay up until it has sold or the site will automatically re-list an auction item for you. It almost does it all for you! (And did I mention it’s free?)



Gro-Wall vertical garden

Bean bag


Quicksales is owned by Ltd. The carsales customer network boasts of over 4.3 million unique users every month, so you can be pretty sure your advertisement will be seen!

The company fully supports buying second hand items. Quicksales provides an online platform for customers to re-use and recycle – after all, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!


Remember these tips when shopping online:

  • Research your item before buying
  • Always ask the seller questions if unsure
  • If it looks too good to be true, it probably is!


What do you think? Do you do some thrift shopping online, or would you consider it?

You can check out quicksales by clicking here, or head to their Facebook or Twitter pages for daily updates.


From fashion spread to the op-shops

What a week it has been. It was the first week back at uni, and it always takes some time to adjust.

Then of course, it was Valentine’s Day. We don’t really celebrate V-day, considering it to be more a a “Hallmark” holiday. But still, it was a good excuse to get frocked up and go out for a nice meal! I got to take a Helmut Lang dress I picked up on sale at Secondo out for a spin.


Valentine's Day


I also took a South Melbourne op-shop tour yesterday. There was the usual weird and wonderful items everyone had a laugh at, but I also found something I’ve been looking for for a long time.


The mustachifier

The weird and the wonderful


I’ve been searching for a backpack for uni, but haven’t had any luck so far at the op-shops. Then I saw the exact style I wanted in a Harper’s Bazaar spread. It was being sold at Topman for $160. I resigned myself to the fact that if I wanted that style of bag, I would probably have to fork out for it.


magazine spread


But yesterday, I found one at the South Melbourne Community Chest store. It was a beautiful vintage leather Country Road bag for $20 – sold! I think everyone on the tour thought I was nuts for being so excited about an old backpack.


the vintage backpack

me 1

me 2


The bag did come with one addition: Patricia (according to her tag). I’m not certain Patricia will get the best reception at uni, so Beau has decided she can tag along with him instead.




(P.S. there were no spiders in this bag!)