OP SHOPPING isn't just about an affordable wardrobe, the treasure hunt for something special or unusual. It's not just about recycling and giving something a second life. It's not just about giving to charity and supporting social services in your local area.
No, op shopping is also about the stories. It's been such a long time since I illustrated my op shop finds and it's something I want to start again next year but in the meantime I am amusing myself with imagining the lives my op shop finds had before they came to be in my hands. What had it been purchased for? Who had taken in the sides on one piece, or cut away the hem on another? Where was it worn and what prompted the original purchase?
For some pieces, the stories in my head are clear. I have a pair of leather brogues that are marked 'David Jones' on the inner sole. I imagine a city woman squirrelling away savings from pay envelopes until she had just the amount to buy the shoes. They're a winter shoe and I've conjured the woman's wider wardrobe of Fletcher Jones pleated skirts, sensible twin sets and shirts with carefully laundered shirts with pussy bows. A whole character has formed from one pair of shoes.
It's the same with a suit I bought recently. The green, patterned silk is stiff and the tailoring is so precise. It's beautiful actually. The suit is for a woman in her late 30s, maybe her 40s. She's looked after herself. The cut is slim but a more mature look just hinting at a younger woman's sass. There's a little bit of show and style. The fabric sparkles but not in a way that's too showy.
Miss Ming's, of Singapore, is the tailor. This was once a modern woman's shopping destination, I am sure. The era is late 1960s, early '70s.
The suit is silk. Was it an expensive choice for the time? A decadence allowed, a frivolity? Was it chosen on a port leave shopping trip - the cruise boat heading into more exotic waters as it headed north? Was it bought by a woman who chose to live in the city at a that time? I peer into the street scenes of the HBO tele-drama Serangoon Road to see whether I can see a resemblance to this mystery woman of my imaginings.
Whoever it was chosen by, she didn't wear it, at least not very much. The linings are still stiff and there are no markings of wear - no tell-tale stains under the arms (Singapore is hot, after all), nor colouring on the cuffs or hem. It's been stowed away in a cupboard or trunk and in recent weeks was chosen to be discarded to the op shop where I came across it and finding it an okay fit, forked out my $10. Not a bad spend for an afternoon of day dreaming.
#opshopfind // silk suit, $10, West Gosford Salvos