In response to my recent style posts, Anita asked how I shop for clothes on eBay. Here’s a series of tips that I wrote up a couple of years ago:
1. Only buy garments that have to fit you in one measurement. Don’t buy things like jeans on eBay; you have to try jeans on. Don’t buy vintage clothing on eBay, even though you can get good deals; most clothing from the 60s and earlier was highly tailored and fits either really well or not at all. T-shirts, tank tops, pullovers, cardigans, sheath dresses, skirts are all good things to buy. Skirts have to fit you around the waist and that’s about it. Sweaters can be a little big or a little tight and it doesn’t really matter. If you’re shopping for kids’ clothes, err on the side of getting something the child can grow into, like you don’t already know that.
2. Shop for brands that run true to size. I know my size in Ann Taylor, Eileen Fisher, Chico’s, and several other brands beloved by middle-aged college-educated women who work in offices–you know, my tribal attire. Gap clothing, on the other hand, is all over the board; I’ve got Gap clothes ranging from size 0 to 8. So I wouldn’t shop for Gap clothes on eBay.
3. No, I can’t afford most of those brands in the stores, especially Eileen Fisher. (It takes a lot of money to look that dowdy.) That’s why I buy them on eBay. There’s no point getting Old Navy clothes on eBay–they’re cheap enough in the store, or on sale, and you don’t have to pay postage. Scale up a couple of notches when you’re eBaying.
4. You can shop by brand or by category. Choose which depending on how specific your desires are. If you just want a nice work skirt, “Ann Taylor skirt” with your size number will get you some nice options. If you know you want a green cardigan, search for “green cardigan.” (I have a huge floppy forest green chenille that I practically live in when we travel, and it’s nothing I would have found in stores.) If the seller hasn’t put the measurements in the description, you can always e-mail them and ask.
5. Keep in mind that people can’t spell, and try variants. Mr. Improbable once tried to buy a collapsible top hat (he wears one at the Igs) with no luck–until he accidentally spelled it “collapsable.” Ta-da!
6. Colors don’t translate well on computer screens. If you look fabulous in a blue-based red, but terrible in an orangey red, don’t get anything red on eBay. Only go for colors where the entire color family works for you.
7. Accept that you will make some mistakes. Don’t ever pay so much for something that you’ll be really upset if you don’t like it when it arrives. If it’s not as described, neg the seller, but sometimes even the most perfectly described items just don’t look good on.
8. If you have any sort of gambling or compulsive spending habit, do not shop on eBay. Seriously. It can be just a leeeetle too much fun. Buying more stuff than you really need isn’t saving money, no matter how good a deal you’re getting on it.
Does anyone else have any good tips?