Op Shop Shoes | The Rules

Second hand shoes?  Ewwwww!  How gross!

I know.  Shoes are one of those things that creep people out.  Because they go on feet.  And many feet are vile.



But, by dismissing op shop shoes out of hand, you might be missing out on the bargain of the century!  Some of my favourite shoes have been op shopped.  Many shoes have been donated because they’re just a little bit too tight or too big, not because they’re worn out.  I frequently find brand new shoes in their boxes in op shops.



I’m the proud owner of Leona Edmiston, Camper, Mimco, Salvatore Ferragamo, Rockport, Kate Spade NY, ECCO, Country Road and Nude shoes, to name but a few, which I’ve thrifted over the years from garage sales, op shops and markets.

Leona Edmiston thrifted for $50




I’ve got a few tips and tricks on how to choose second hand shoes, and how to deal with them.

Make sure they’re the right size

There is no point buying shoes that almost fit – you will just wind up donating them back to the op shop for another lucky girl with feet half a size smaller than yours to buy.


Diana Ferrari suede ballet flats thrifted for $10


Check for wear

If you’re really lucky, you will find box fresh shoes with the stickers still on.  This is the Holy Grail of op shopping!  Check for signs of wear, holes, scuffs and the like.  If they are dirty or mucky or just plain pong, do not even pick them up off the shelf.  Ewwwww.  You need to shop at a better class of op shop if this is what’s on offer!

However, don’t discount really fabulous shoes that need a little bit of love.  I am the proud owner of the most perfect vintage ladylike heels by Salvatore Ferragamo that needed the heel plates replaced.  $10 for the shoes and $17 for the shoe repair and Bob’s your auntie’s live in lover.


Op shopped outfit $60 – Jane Lamerton bolero, Country Road dress and shoes (new), Florence Broadhurst fabric pouch


Go for quality

Choose quality brands.  There’s no point buying second hand shoes from, say, Big W, when they’re so cheap in the first place.  Take the opportunity to try a new brand you’ve not worn before.  I’ve gone on to purchase shoes from a retail store after being impressed by a brand I’ve thrifted.


My beloved 1980s Ferragamos


Clean Queen

OK, so now you’ve purchased your op shop shoes, here is my quick guide to dealing with them.

  • Put some antibacterial hand gel on a baby wipe or two and wipe them thoroughly inside and out.  The alcohol in both products will mean they dry quite quickly and will not damage them.
  • I sometimes put new inner soles in second hand shoes.
  • Polish leather shoes, brush suede shoes, and waterproof both fabric and suede shoes.  Just because they were a bargain, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look after them.
  • Give them a good blast with anti-tinea spray – just in case!

A few of my favourite girls

Queen Elizabeth gets one of her Ladies of Waiting to wear her shoes in for her.

If second hand shoes are good enough for the Queen of England, then they’re good enough for me!

Are you an op shopper extraordinaire like me?  Do you love shoes, and even better, a bargain?

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  • Lauren/y - 15 August 2012 - 8.30 pm

    I love this post, you are so clever . . . and the shoes? Divine! ReplyCancel

  • Kelly Lanfranca - 15 August 2012 - 11.20 am

    I lurve me some shoes, but I’ve never bought them from an op shop. I’ve bought clothes from an op shop, and shoes for my kiddies, but I’ve just never been so lucky to find a gorgeous pair of thrifted shoes. And, to be honest, I haven’t looked too hard because of the ick factor. But you’ve now made me want to go shopping! xReplyCancel

  • Kristyn - 14 August 2012 - 4.42 pm

    I’ve actually never bought a pair of shoes from op shop before so thanks for these tips! I might try them out 🙂ReplyCancel

  • August Blog Carnival Hooray! - 13 August 2012 - 9.07 am

    […] from Kimba Likes has some Rules for Op shop shoes aka “buying op shop shoes without the ick factor”. Her Twitter and Facebook stuff […]ReplyCancel

  • Sharron - 5 August 2012 - 1.07 am

    Over from Dr Bron’s linky and thank you for leaving a lovely comment on my little post. You have far better second hand shops than I do in my corner of the world, some lovely little finds you managed to haul in 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Kim-Marie Williams - 5 August 2012 - 9.58 am

      Isn’t that funny! I love coming to the UK and going op shopping. I did really well in Berkhamsted, Chester and Hay on Wye last visit! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Emily - 3 August 2012 - 3.00 pm

    Great tips! I love shoes and will have to scout the local op-shops.ReplyCancel

  • Alicia - 3 August 2012 - 11.11 am

    I am not a shoe fanatic like a lot of women. I tend to go for practicality and comfort rather than fashion.ReplyCancel

  • carmen@musingnmayhem - 27 July 2012 - 10.27 pm

    Thanks for that Kim-Marie! I need to add to my collection of sneakers and Docs. 😉 Love op shopping! xReplyCancel

  • Becci Swan - 27 July 2012 - 9.59 pm

    As the youngest of 5 I’m used to hand-me-downs (didn’t have a new pair of shoes till I was 13), so I don’t mind second hand shoes. And I hate wearing in new shoes, my feet are sensitive little soles (haha). But with all my shoes I only end up wearing about 3 pairs regularly.ReplyCancel

    • Kim-Marie Williams - 28 July 2012 - 9.14 am

      I’m the eldest of four, plus the eldest great and grandchild, and the only girl. I always got new shoes. I did however benefit from my hulking teenage brothers and got their grown out of Levi’s 501s!ReplyCancel

  • Ros - 27 July 2012 - 8.56 pm

    Great post! I’ll admit I’m a bit nervous of shoes in op-shops. I’m generally looking for fabric and crafty stuff, as well as kids clothes and books. Will definitely be giving the shoes a second look now. Love those purple suede ballet flats!ReplyCancel

    • Kim-Marie Williams - 28 July 2012 - 9.13 am

      Unfortunately you won’t find buried treasure every time, but keep en eye out each visit. You just never know! Sadly, the purple flats got caught in a rainstorm and are now less than pretty. 🙁ReplyCancel

    • Kim-Marie - 28 July 2012 - 9.06 am

      Always worth a look. There can be hideous stuff, and I don’t recommend that, obviously. But keep an eye out every time you visit – you just never know!ReplyCancel

  • Melinda - 27 July 2012 - 3.19 pm

    I spy leopard!!

    I really need to go op shopping. When I come to Sydney, we need an op shopping date! 🙂 ReplyCancel

    • Kim-Marie Williams - 27 July 2012 - 3.55 pm

      Those are my beloved Zara pony hair loafers that I snagged on the frenetic opening. $80. Bargain! Yes, it’s a date. Op shopping and high tea. You’re on! ReplyCancel

  • Kuku Couture - 24 July 2012 - 10.50 pm

    Wow! This post is so timely for me I am going op-shopping tomorrow! But I am all about home wares at thrift stores I will definitely be stopping by the shoe section tomorrow though 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Kim-Marie Williams - 25 July 2012 - 8.10 am

      Oh, I’m always looking for beautiful orphaned vintage saucers. They make the best side plates and I love the pretty randomness of them stacked in my cupboard. Things just taste better off vintage saucers. Let me know how you get on with the shoe department!ReplyCancel

  • Sonia@ LIfe Love and Hiccups - 24 July 2012 - 9.27 pm

    I have honestly never even thought of op shop shoes… until now! I am so checking out my local op shop this weekend. Thanks fo rthe heads up hun xReplyCancel

    • Kim-Marie Williams - 25 July 2012 - 8.09 am

      Excellent – now I’m not promising buried treasure every single time, but occasionally, there is gold! xReplyCancel

  • Mum of Adult Kids - 24 July 2012 - 3.08 pm

    shop! I meant op shop!ReplyCancel

  • Mum of Adult Kids - 24 July 2012 - 3.07 pm

    I bought a pair of Italian leather shoes from an op shoe over 15 years ago, and they are STILL in my wardrobe as the most comfy shoes I own!ReplyCancel

    • Kim-Marie Williams - 24 July 2012 - 3.42 pm

      Italian leather is the one to go for – every time! 15 years later, now that’s a bargain! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • AParentingLife - 24 July 2012 - 2.29 pm

    You have some seriously cool op shops near you. I must be op shopped cursed or simply don’t go there enough as I never find exciting thingsReplyCancel

    • Kim-Marie Williams - 24 July 2012 - 3.41 pm

      Yes, I’m very lucky with my op shops. I bought today a gorgeous Country Road pleated chiffon maxi skirt that I tried to buy last year but was sold out in my size. There it was, hanging on the rack in Red Cross for $25. Bargain!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel @ TheKidsAreAllRight - 24 July 2012 - 1.52 pm

    You are an awesome op-shopper. I gave up in my 20s. I just didn’t have the time to forage, but some people have the knack of getting in and out with a bunch of bargains. You should open a store.ReplyCancel

    • Kim-Marie Williams - 24 July 2012 - 3.41 pm

      I do love op shopping. Think it gets into your blood! I love markets and outlet centres too. Anything that ties into Never Pay Retail! I do actually have enough spare stuff to open a very small store! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Rita - 24 July 2012 - 1.34 pm

    Great post! I bought once a pair of shoes from a garage sale. I absolutely loved them and they looked new. I cleaned them when I came back home and they are indeed one of my favourite pair until now!ReplyCancel

    • Kim-Marie Williams - 24 July 2012 - 3.40 pm

      It’s all about the cleaning! I actually spray brand new shoes that I’ve bought from retail shops too. Some of them have been tried on a lot, particularly the sale stock! ReplyCancel

  • Grace - 24 July 2012 - 1.33 pm

    Oh! Love, love LOVE! I went to a garage sale in our neighbourhood once and bought a whole stack of designer shoes – D&G leopard skin stillettos, Prada loafers…and so many more!
    Now that I have those “Clean Queen” tips, I know how to look after them xReplyCancel

    • Kim-Marie Williams - 24 July 2012 - 3.39 pm

      Wow! Now that’s a haul! I bought some almost new Camper sandals for $2 from a neighbour’s garage sale, and a book seat for $1!ReplyCancel

  • Yvette - 24 July 2012 - 1.11 pm

    love it!! off to find my nearest opshop!ReplyCancel

  • Penny - 24 July 2012 - 12.54 pm

    Squeee. I adore those ballet flats. SOOOO cute, althought not sure if I could pull them off.
    I use to live at op shops (the reuse, recycle green in me) but I’m finiding it hard to go with three cherubs these days. Perhaps my hubby could babysit one afternoon. I so need new clothes and shoes!ReplyCancel

    • Kim-Marie Williams - 24 July 2012 - 3.38 pm

      Yes, shopping with three urchins I’d imagine would be a bit tricky? I have only one and he’s actually a very good shopper. Likes to chat up the ladies whilst I try things on, and his comments are hilarious! x

      The greenie aspect does appeal to me too – along with the bargain hunter instinct! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Lauren Greenlees - 24 July 2012 - 12.04 pm

    Love this post, I am a thrifter although I dont do it near enough xx Fabulous finds ladyReplyCancel

    • Kim-Marie Williams - 24 July 2012 - 3.37 pm

      I’m a bit spoilt, with two vintage boutiques, a Vinnies, a Salvos, a Red Cross, and two second hand clothes shops within 5 minutes walk of each other. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Rachel from Redcliffe Style - 24 July 2012 - 10.29 am

    This is a great post. I honestly hadn’t considered second hand shoes but often accept hand-me-down shoes from an awesome aunt. Rachel x ReplyCancel

    • Kim-Marie Williams - 24 July 2012 - 3.35 pm

      Well, there’s second hand shoes and there’s second hand shoes. Many stores now donate excess stock to op shops (Country Road have a deal with Red Cross, for example) so you frequently find brand new shoes in store.ReplyCancel

  • bbeingcool - 24 July 2012 - 10.17 am

    Oh my goodness – we are TWINS! How totally fabulous! Love, love, love this post!

    Love the bolero outfit – tres chic!ReplyCancel

  • workingwomenaustralia - 24 July 2012 - 9.42 am

    I have always walked past the shows in the op shop for the exact reasons you’ve described. But…after seeing your label bargains I’m going to have a closer look! Excellent advice 🙂ReplyCancel

  • FoxInFlats - 24 July 2012 - 9.42 am

    I LOVE this – thanks for the tips! xReplyCancel

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