Part of an occasional series of posts about figuring out what to wear and where to buy it.
As I’ve been losing weight, I’ve had to replace my wardrobe. In fact, in the past year, I’ve replaced nearly everything in my closet and dresser. This costs money, which is something that none of us has in an endless supply, so I’ve been turning more and more to an old friend of mine.
Over the years, I have scored some amazing deals, including a gorgeous 1960s camel colored cashmere overcoat for around $40 including shipping. I feel like a million bucks when I wear it, plus it’s so soft that I want to pet myself.
I’ve gotten several versions of one of my favorite sweaters in various colors for anywhere from 50-75% less than retail.
And I will never spend $150-180 for a blazer, but I did spend around $30 for this velvet beauty in a deep rich purple.
Another amazing score I made was these shoes, which retailed on the J. Crew website for around $130 and which I got NIB (that’s eBay speak for new in the box) for well under half that, including shipping.
Over the years, I’ve found several pairs of Dansko clogs NIB and have never once spent more than $80, including shipping, for shoes that retail for at $120-$150.
A couple of years ago, I found a gorgeous vintage red wool Ralph Lauren duffel coat for Grace that she just loves and which looks fabulous on her. It’s something she could end up owning for a very long time.
When the girls were little, I usually bought their Christmas/special occasion dresses from eBay and then resold them there when the dresses were outgrown. In fact, eBay is a great place to look for your special occasion clothes too, as I wrote about here.
And as I mentioned, in the past year eBay has been very useful in helping me replace parts of my wardrobe.
For example, the sweaters I mentioned above. I love cardigans but I’m picky about them. I prefer a certain style, but I don’t like the cheap cardis at places like Target and Old Navy because they don’t hold up to repeated wearings. I’d rather have one really nice sweater than five cheap-ass falling-apart ones.
But eBay can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. Here’s what you need to know:
- Know what you’re looking for. The more specific your search (J. Crew Jackie cardigan), the easier it is to sort out the crap. You don’t have to be that specific, but it is helpful.
- Search smart. Once you start your search, eBay let’s you narrow things down easily — you can search your size, by color, by material, by brand, and even by style — so that you don’t have to sort through hundreds or thousands of listings.
- Do your research. Look around the internet to see what something retails for. For example, the J. Crew cardigan that I like sells for $66, so I won’t even look at one on eBay if it’s more than $30, including shipping.
- Pay attention when you’re looking at the listing. Read carefully so that you know exactly what you’re bidding on/buying and you aren’t surprised when it arrives in your mailbox. Note the materials, sizing, condition of the item, and so on.
- Notice if the seller has happy customers. If you look at the seller’s name, there will be something right under it that says something like “100% positive feedback.” That means the seller is honest and his/her clients have been been happy.
- Be patient. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, save the search and then have eBay email you whenever something new pops up. I’ve used this to my advantage many times. For example, those ballet flats listed above: I got emails for months before I found some NIB for the price range I was willing to pay.
- Be clean. When your new item arrives in the mail, I’d suggest cleaning it. Even if it is new in the box or still has tags attached, I’d still clean it.
Updated to add (this paragraph and the following one): A few more comments about using eBay. I’ve had hundreds of transactions in the past decade and only a few bad experiences in all that time. If something were to arrive that was not as described, I’d check the listing first to make sure I didn’t miss something. If the flaw was not mentioned in the listing, I would contact the seller immediately and ask for a refund. (This has happened to me only once or twice.) Most sellers will apologize and refund your money, provided you return the item to them. If the seller does not respond, eBay has a great dispute settlement system that you can use.
Regarding auctions and bidding: I set my upper limit for what I am willing to spend and I walk away from the computer. If I am outbid, I decide if my original bid was reasonable or if I could go higher. After that, I might go higher or I might not. If I don’t, I don’t get too upset about it. It’s all part of the thrill of the hunt. For example, I’ve been getting eBay updates for listings of this scarf for more than a year. It’s $235 and I am not only unwilling to pay that amount, I am unwilling to pay half of that amount. I have never won an auction for that scarf, nor have I ever come close. I might one day get lucky or I might never. Like I said, thrill + hunt. If I am ever successful, then I will crow loudly about my score for years and I’ll love it even more.
So that’s the deal with eBay. Who else is a fan? What’s your favorite or best deal so far?