Archive for August, 2010|Monthly archive page

Pressure Cookers and wedding dresses

In Uncategorized on August 25, 2010 at 12:53 am


Juanita Phillips loves op-shopping.  It is not just limited to beauty queens and poor students, it also attracts news readers who find themselves facing burnout dealing with the competing demands of rising interest rates, career, marriage, commuting, two small children and nannies that go awol.  You may remember a past abc news bulletin that had to be transferred to Melbourne due to ‘technical difficulties’ .  The technical difficulties proved to be a coughing fit the result of a sensation akin to drowning brought on by stress. She describes her relationship with op shops at the start of her novel ‘A Pressure Cooker Saved My Life.’ The novel includes recipes to assist readers with their life transformation – it can all become easier, with a pressure cooker and her book.  I lament the lack of time in my life to read it.

She finds a pressure cooker in her local op shop replete with plastic wrapping and a 1950s-ish brochure showing an estatic housewife presenting her family with an amazing meal, courtesy of the pressure cooker.

I went to Vinnies on King Street in Newtown to seek out a pressure cooker.  One of the most distinctive aspects of an op shop is the smell.  That kind of dry, dusty odor that you associate with preloved clothing and old cars.  I scanned the homewares section at the back but was distracted at one stage by the rows of shows on display.  I do need a pair of black leather boots after all.  The other area that really caught my attention was the rack of wedding dresses.  I had a friend in NZ who postponed the making of her wedding dress till one week before the wedding.  She just got busy.  She could have done with a pressure cooker.  She should have considered checking out the local op shops – but given the ones for sale at Vinnies I suspect the style would not have been to her liking. 


I vow to return to this op shop to talk to the staff about where the wedding dresses come from.  The closest thing to a pressure cooker that I find is a ceramic casserole dish.  Oh, my friend ended up finding a friend of a friend who loved sewing and created her wedding dress within the space of just a couple of days – lucky!


Miss Universe NZ op shops too!

In Uncategorized on August 4, 2010 at 9:08 am

Clutter.  Money.  Clothes.  They can, for some, be inextricably linked.  Do you ever look at a room full of stuff and wish instead you had in your hand the cold hard cash that all those things cost? As someone once said to me “If you have a lot of stuff, you have stuff all!” Are you trying to ‘move forward’  – destination, credit card free utopia?  Have you ever had to move forward into a new place to live and realized that apart from sourcing a roof over your head and a lot of frenzied cleaning, a big part of your energy was devoted to relocating  a lot of stuff that you didn’t really need or use? Apart from the packing, that stuff was heavy.  And time consuming.  And time, as we all know, equals money.  Some of it still remains in unopened boxes, burning a hole in my psyche. Maybe we should all take a leaf out of Kelly Sutton’s book?

At the recent Winterland Festival at CarriageWorks, Redfern, one of Sydney’s largest mass clothing exchanges took place.  I turned up with my 2SER minidisc recorder and 13 items of clean, quality preloved clothing to exchange for 13 different items of clean, quality preloved clothing.  While waiting in the queue (nearly half an hour, though some had to wait over 45 minutes) we were given Oxfam tags to attach to our items to give the new owner a bit of insight into their history.  In front of me, this girl with about 20 bangles on each arm wrote “I swam in this top in a lake in Iceland and it shrunk.”  That top had clocked up some miles.  Despite the dark  cavernous inside of the warehouse sorting room, and the sneezing that accompanied the throng at the ‘Women’s Casual Tops’ table – virtually groaning under the weight of all that clothing – I realized one thing.  Why do we buy brand new stuff?  For a free exchange, I managed to score some pretty groovy items.  A stylish lacey tshirt with it’s tag stating “Bought while on holidays in Barcelona.  Never quite fit me right.  Always looked better on my flatmate.”  A funky studded black handbag with a message, almost haiku in its simplicity “When I was 15 I saved up for 3 months to buy this bag.  I hope you like it.”

I pondered to myself, do I really need to buy things brand new?  I know others have done it – but with fond memories of shopping in Newtown hip boutiques and Chica Booti stores – how hard would it be FOR ME to go preloved for a period?  Heck, all my partners came preloved, why not my clothes?  Why not my footwear?  I am in desperate need for a pair of black boots  – having chucked out a pair that died in the mosh pit at a Nine Inch Nails concert, and another pair that have steadily decreasing heels and steadily increasing scuffed leather.  Therefore it is time to check out all the op shops and clothing exchanges Sydney has to offer.  Miss Universe New Zealand recently trawled op shops to find formal dresses for an upcoming international pageant – so I am in good company.