The perfect outfit needn’t cost the earth

Reporter Mary Williams wears the "rockin’ reporter" outfit (left) that met her wish to look like...
Reporter Mary Williams wears the "rockin’ reporter" outfit (left) that met her wish to look like an undercover journalist in the jungle in an overnight stake-out. She also donned the "Bob Dylan’s girlfriend" look (right). Photos: Gregor Richardson
As a recent university graduate, I have spent the vast majority of my adult years teetering on the edge of being stone-cold broke.

However, as someone who also spent five long years studying in Wellington, sustainability, affordability and a love of an outfit a bit different from what was on a Glassons mannequin was drilled into me.

The great news is vintage and secondhand clothes are firmly "in", and more socially accepted than ever.

Fashion is seeing a huge swing towards looks from the

’90s and 2000s, and staple pieces from decades past are being worn by the youth of today.

However, the true overarching theme in fashion at the moment is to have your own unique style.

The goal is to put on whatever you like and whatever you think looks cool, and rock it.

I took fellow Otago Daily Times reporter Mary Williams op-shopping with me.

She gave me almost free rein to dress her however I wanted.

Mary also had her own demands, though.

She wanted to look like a "rockin’ hot reporter" and strongly insisted the colours matched her "warm autumn colour palette".

Mary was also finding it hard to op shop and it was important for her to feel confident and cool in what I put her in.

We headed down to the Hato Hone St John retail store, in Macandrew Rd, South Dunedin, and I quickly scanned the racks for a variety of different outfits.

Mary’s top outfit we found was a "rockin’ reporter" outfit, complete with deep pockets to store pens and paper in, cargo pants tucked into a pair of lace-up knee-high boots and the classic slouchy button-up everyone in the ODT office seems to basically live in.

The outfit lived up to Mary’s dream to be an undercover journalist crawling through a thicket of trees on an overnight stakeout.

I also picked Mary an all-white outfit, which was dubbed the "Bob Dylan’s girlfriend" look.

This outfit, which was personally my favourite, made Mary feel as though she was "rockin’ out at a muddy festival".

Mary said with a cheeky smile that the outfits made her feel "devastatingly sexy".

"Going to op-shops is super fun because you never know what you’re going to find.

"It’s a treasure trove of experimentation."

Mary and I could not resist.

As we were trying to leave, both of us somehow found ourselves with an armful of clothes, standing in line at the front counter to pay.

In front of us was Teresa — not her real name — who was clutching excitedly a fluoro-pink and orange fluffy coat. "I couldn’t not have it," she said.

"Op shopping used to be for fun, but these days people need to use op shops to buy clothes due to the cost of living."

Teresa was always happy to donate things too, because she just didn’t have space in her one-bedroom council flat for a lot of belongings.

"When something comes home with me, something has to come back here — but I’ve never seen anyone wearing my clothes yet."