A lovely CF reader sent in this request:
Could you do an article on how to shop for clothes on eBay? Finding reputable sellers, things to look for when shopping vintage, etc.
I always say that eBay is one of the greatest place to find vintage clothes, especially if you don't have many vintage shops in your area. However it can sometimes be hard to find reputable sellers, as well as clothing that fits and is of high quality - unless you know the tricks.
One of the greatest things about eBay is that it promotes reusing and recycling items - instead of buying new, you can help the environment AND score amazing vintage pieces. Obviously, it's not for everyone, but if you know what to look for, almost everyone can find something they love on eBay!
Tips & Tricks to Navigating eBay
1. Use the right keywords. Know what you are looking for. If you want to leisurely explore one topic, go ahead and search for "vintage". If you want to find a series of specific items, do your research - if you want to find vintage shoes in a specific color, use those keywords!
2. Check the photos. Photos are important and should always be examined carefully. First off, make sure they aren't the exact same photos of a similar item listed - that could indicate a scam. If you are ever unsure about a product, it is your right as a buyer to ask for more photos of the product. If they can't get you any, do not buy from that seller - that is a definite red flag!
3. Check the measurements. Any good clothing seller on eBay, especially any good vintage seller, will list the measurements and approximate size (in modern terms) of the garment. If they don't have the measurements listed, you can always ask for them.
4. Know your measurements. This relates to number three - make sure you know your exact measurements, so that you can at least estimate if the garment will fit your correctly. In general, make sure you know your bust, waist, and hip measurements, plus the length of your arms and your inseam.
5. Check the seller's feedback. Make sure they have good feedback from a large number of people. Not to say that new sellers are bad sellers, but you want to make sure the person you are buying from isn't just going to take your money and run. If you really love the items the seller stocks, keep an eye on them and wait for them to get more feedback. In general, if they have so-so or bad feedback, I would avoid buying from them! There are tons of great eBay sellers out there with outstanding feedback that won't rip you off.
6. Make sure the pricing is accurate. Do your research on the item - find out how much it typically costs in mint condition (this can sometimes be difficult, but it can be worth it, especially if you're looking at rare vintage pieces). Be careful if it is overpriced and even MORE careful if it is underpriced - you might not be getting what you think you are! In general, if a price looks way too good to be true, it probably is.
7. For vintage clothes and accessories, make sure they list the condition. An item could look great in the picture, but it could be threadbare in reality or they could be cleverly hiding a tear. If they don't list the condition, you can always ask them. And if they won't give you a straight answer, don't buy from them!
8. Read the description carefully. Check for typos, inaccuracies, mistakes, etc. I know this sounds petty, but it never looks professional to have misspellings, especially if you are trying to make money! A typo isn't necessarily a reason to abandon a garment, but if there are other things that seem amiss (a lack of sizing, sketchy feedback, saying it is a red purse when the picture is of a black purse), they could definitely indicate an illegitimate seller.
9. Check each seller's profile. Trust your instinct - if they seem a little sketchy, they likely are. Most of my favorite eBay vintage sellers have amazing and customized profiles with pictures and logos.
Finding reputable sellers and fabulous garments on eBay can be difficult at times, but just remember to always follow your instincts - if it seems sketchy, don't put your finances in jeopardy!
What do you think?
Do you have any tips for shopping on eBay? Is there anything I've missed? Let me know in the comments!