I HAVE two weeks of leave and have been making the most of a chance to dig about in my local op shops. I haven't posted a serious op ...

I HAVE two weeks of leave and have been making the most of a chance to dig about in my local op shops. I haven't posted a serious op shopping post for some time, the last one, from memory, was about cleaning leather.

Every op shopper has their op-shopping "thing", or "things" in my case, and today I realised seasonal shopping was one of my "things".

I've been scouring op shops for the basics of a new-to-me mid-season and summer wardrobe. I've already gone through what I own and picked out what can be mended or cut down into something new. Anything I don't think I'll wear again has gone out to be washed and bagged up for charity. I always, always wash anything that's going out. It's the decent thing, you know?

My wardrobe audit has produced a shopping list including a new pair of jeans, work pants, summer work shirts, shorts and casual tops. I do need T-shirts but I'll come to that in a minute.

It sounds a lot but I've managed to get through the past three summers without needing a significant wardrobe overhaul thanks to op-shop pieces I've picked up here and there. Now much of what I have is faded, jaded or I've had my fun with it. So, time to hit the shops.

Already I've found a pair of navy Country Road pants ($10) with a 1940s look to them. I've bagged a sandy-coloured pair of Faberge jeans ($1) and a pair of mid-calf pants in a fun '80s print ($4). Add a pair of Corfu blue jeans ($2), a patterned cotton shirt ($4) and a bright Oroton scarf in blue, yellow and white ($2.90) and you've got the makings of a mid-season wardrobe. I also picked up a 1970s Sportscraft knit that will be too warm to wear in a few weeks but just couldn't leave on the rack for $5.

In total, I've spent less than $30 and have four pairs of pants, two shirts and a silk scarf. Not bad for a morning's shop and at that price, even if I hadn't done a wardrobe audit ahead of time there would be little lost if I found the pieces failed to work with what I already had.

You'll note a few brand names in there. I do tend to fall on labels I know have stood, and will continue to stand the test of time - both in terms of style and construction.

I don't buy T-shirts from op-shops. They wear quickly, are often faded or greying, and usually pulled out of shape. The same goes for low-end chain store brands. If the price tag affords a cheap and cheerful season of wear, then by all means, pop your find in the basket. In my experience they'll only last a few more wears and are often a style from last season - not that it matters if you like it.

And, finally, launder everything. When you get your purchases home go over them looking for stains, pulls and runs or missing buttons. Soak out stains if need be and put the garment through the wash following the manufacturer's care instructions, if they're still sewn into a seam. Pulls and runs and missing buttons can all be mended.

Now, excuse me, will you, I'm off to hang out a load.

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