What to Shop Secondhand this Season

What to Shop Secondhand this Season

I know I’m not alone on this one - a new season is (sort of) here, and so we get the itch for a bit of something new and shiny for the wardrobe. I’ve done a round up of some high street and NZ designer picks, and shopped my own wardrobe, but of course there’s always our environmentally friendly friend the op shop to consider too!

The thing most women tell me puts them off op shopping is the insane amount of STUFF. That, more so than the weird smell or the fact that it’s a heart breaker when your dream item is a size too small or too big. The key to all op shopping experiences, be they in person or online, is to go in with a list (I’ve written about successful thrifting in the distant past, here). This season I thought I’d round up a few of the key trends or standard summer items to consider hunting for!

Linen anything


Disclaimer: this dress is homemade so it has no tags and may, in fact, not be linen. But I’m pretty sure it is. Either way, my point remains, which is: linen is an excellent summer fabric every year, but this year in particular I’m seeing it everywhere. Consider that a linen shirt from Glassons costs $30 or so, requires new resources to be used, and will be all over the streets in two months and you can see why I preferred this $8 option from the op shop. I also think that linen is never better than after its been worn repeatedly, to soften the fibres - why not let a stranger do that work for you and just enjoy the end result?

Keep an eye out for cropped pants, dresses and oversized shirts this season.

Gingham is still a thing


I actually bought this dress a year or two ago, but it remains a solid op shop favourite find thanks to the rainbow gingham. You’ll recall I wrote about gingham here, and it remains a soft trend this year (which means: it’s still in fashion this year but it’s not the thing that gets shoved down your throat in every store). Again, you could buy an inexpensive, new gingham shirt from KMart or the Warehouse or you could find a gingham treat in an op shop for a song.

Personally, I’d steer clear of a gingham shirt (I mean, I own one, I just also know it’s a super boring choice). Gingham PANTS, now we’re talking, or a pair of gingham shorts YESSIR. If you find a gingham jacket buy it immediately.

Menswear, but in a very specific way


So, I bought these amazing shorts without trying them on and they are slightly too small. But just enough too small to be legitimately uncomfortable, so guess who has to ask her tailor to move the zipper and button to the absolute max so she can squeeze into them? C’est moi hangs head

However, this Hawaiian shirt (which is also a previous star of the blog) was an absolutely flawless purchase and one that I recommend to you as you hunt the op shops this season. Always, always, check out the men’s section for these sorts of pre-worn treasures. My search for barkcloth shirts is also unending. Boys’ and men’s shorts in this preppy style are a superb summer option if, like me, you do not want your butt hanging out of a pair of denim shorts. I also recommend the men’s section for ties, velvet dressing gowns, and (in six months) cozy oversized jumpers. Steal their stuff!

Full “beach cover up in the city” looks


I bought this dress aggressively this year. What’s not to love! I think this is meant to look like ikat, but mate it’s 100% just a print onto cotton. There some kind of fringe detail on the pockets and a piece of trim round the hem that is arguably unnecessary but hella jaunty. Yes, you could absolutely take this on holiday (a great alternative to boring beach wear, sure to have you feeling glam and making your pictures look 50% better).

However, I’m planning to wear this in the city one hot weekend for rooftop drinks or brunch in a secluded outdoor spot. Just chuck on some fake tan, a pair of breezy slides and a wee crossbody bag and you have the perfect “I’m not in my home city I’m in a breezy resort town on holiday” vibe to enjoy.

Slingbacks: amazing, or evil?


I love slingback shoes. But. Every single year I have a pair in my wardrobe and every single year at least one of those pairs of shoes really, really pisses me off. Why do some of them just refuse to stay on my heel? But only on some days! Other days they are fine! What is the secret?!?!?!?

Putting that aside, I love a slingback shoe with a low block heel as a good summer work shoe. They’re also super perfect for summer weddings because they look chic and dressed up without the aggressive foot and leg pain that is a pair of high, high heels in the heat. Slingbacks can be a little hard to find, especially during the hardcore mule trend we’re enjoying right now, but they have been very popular in the recent and distant past so do crop up in op shops and on TradeMe again and again. This pair were a teensy bit of a splurge at Recycle Boutique, but damn they are pretty. I’m still not on board with slingback kitten heels with a pointy toe (despite legit giving it a go last summer) because of the severe flashbacks to the year 2003, but you do you team. You do you.

Mules (are you shocked tho)


Look, mules are EVERYWHERE this year (and had a strong showing last year) and I don’t think will magically disappear next summer. However, they are not a new idea and so you can find them at op shops. I strongly suspect these guys are from the 90s, just judging by the square toe and the style of the heel and the notched leather top. It is, in fact, that retro feel that attracted me to them. The beauty of op shopping is that you can try something new for less than a tenner, and in the case of mules they’re a great thing to pick up to experiment with because they will give your look a quick shot of trendiness.

If you’re looking for a first pair of mules or a less retro option, you probably want just a plain option that consists of a band of suede or leather over the top of the foot. Again, I see these on hard repeat at op shops and in my view it’s better to hold out for a pair there in leather, than to buy a cheapo pair from a chain store in synthetic fabrics. Sweaty, blistery feet is not the way to go.



I just refuse to spend real money on espadrilles and I can’t really tell you why. I once found a pair of Soludas in an op shop and passed on them, and I also can’t tell you why I did that. We make weird choices, and it is a rare person who fully understands all of their motivations.

However, I do understand that I like espadrilles with a pair of crisp denim shorts or a summer dress so when I saw this navy pair for $13 or something stupid, I snagged them (learn from your mistakes vis a vis Soludas, team). While espadrilles have been a little more prevalent in recent years, they’re really a classic. They do also seem to be one of those things that women buy and then never wear (judging by their appearance in op shops in pristine condition) so I really suggest trying to find a second hand version if you’re on the fence. They’re not always super flattering, but they are usually incredibly comfy.

And other accessories


Straw bags are everywhere. I absolutely refuse to buy one. First of all - they’re everywhere and if I see another perfectly circular straw bag it will be too soon. Second of all - I think these are a trendy trend item and the $120 I saw one retailing for the other day is a good chunk of an investment towards a more classic bag from a New Zealand designer, so I’d rather do that.

I do think that straw and other woven textures have a strong role in summer, though, so in addition to hats (stay tuned!) I’d be looking for an alternative to the wicker bags that have descended on us. This one (points at photo) is some kind of weird plastic but I like that it’s both a clutch and has a chain strap. Why is this bag so dressy? I will be grateful for it when I go on a first class tropical cruise.

In terms of jewellery, statement earrings continue to rule the high street (thank god, because I own a fair few right now). This year I was really attracted to these agate-like clip on jobs for two reasons. I was keen to try something bold that wasn’t dangly (I like a large but non-dangly earring with my short hair) AND agate is a nice twist on the love of marble and terrazzo that seems to still be everywhere. These can’t be real agate - they are too light - but effect is what we’re going for here.

There’s also a big trend toward jewellery inspired by shells and the ocean, but instead of shelling out $100 on a cowry shell necklace via Instagram, I bought these two from the op shop for a dollar or two each (yes that pun was on purpose). These are going to get a lot of play this year, without me having to ask myself any hard questions about where all the shells come from. A+.

I hope this has given you some ideas to add to your op shopping list and remember, the fun of op shopping is in the hunt - the surprise finds like my Aloha shirt up there, or that gingham dress, or those fabulous gold slingbacks. Good luck out there and don’t forget your antihistamines!