• rosanna

Buying second hand clothes is nothing new, but it is having somewhat of a revival at the moment as the world focuses on sustainability and being more eco-friendly. Buying pre-loved items is also a great way of upstyling your wardrobe if you didn't manage to buy something before it sold out or maybe because it wasn't affordable at the time it was on sale. I have always been a huge eBay shopper and found some real treasures over the years so I thought I would impart some tips!

How to buy pre-loved on eBay

  1. Decide what it is you want

  2. Don't be too precise in your search criteria

  3. Be patient

  4. Set your top price

  5. Don't bid until the last minute

Decide what it is you want

There are literally millions of items listed on eBay so if you go on the site without having a definite idea of what you want, you don't stand a chance! Have a list of items you dream of owning, and then keep an eye out for them, and them only or you'll end up with a load of stuff you don't need. For example I always wanted the Swallow print dress from Whistles that was in stores around 6 or 7 years ago, but at the time I couldn't afford it. I would see girls wearing it on the tube and be so jealous. I knew it would be a really useful addition to my wardrobe so I added it to my inner wish list and eventually, around 3 years ago, I finally found someone selling one in my size. Success!

Don't be too precise in your search criteria

When searching on eBay, include the brand name but don't be too precise on the item description as someone might phrase it differently to you and their listing won't show up if you narrow it down too much. Equally with sizing, some people will list an item as a M when it is a 12, or they'll use European or American sizing and their items won't appear in your search list. You might say 'trainers' they might say 'sneakers'...you get the picture. So I recommend using broad terms, like 'Whistles dress' and then sorting the items that appear rather than saying 'Whistles swallow print dress size 12'. Thankfully due to images you can scan down a page pretty fast to see if your target item is there.

Be patient

The chances are, you will not find what you want straight away. I have literally spent years waiting for items to be listed. Years. But if you're patient and keep checking back, eventually you will emerge victorious, clutching your prize with a smug satisfaction. It is the best feeling!

Set your top price

The danger of auctions is that you get carried away. If you allow yourself to get sucked into a bidding war it is so easy to just keep going up and up and before you know it you have spent your monthly food budget. It is vital to decide what your absolute top price is, in advance, and stick to it. Think about how much you can afford, and what this item is worth to you. Is it a unicorn item that you have dreamed of for years? Will you use it all the time? What can you wear it with? Figure out your maximum budget, the highest price you are willing to pay for it.

Don't bid until the last minute

Now that you have decided your top price, do nothing with it until the very last seconds that the listing is live. Log into your account around 10 minutes before the listing is due to end, (make sure that you have created an account and added a payment method like PayPal ahead of time to avoid any delays or glitches) and sit tight. This is my most important tip. If you bid too early, someone else can simply swoop in at the last second and outbid you. This person will be someone like me as I have done this so many times and probably caused a lot of heartache. I wait and wait and wait and then as the countdown enters the last 20 seconds (sometimes 10 if I can hold my nerve and trust my internet connection) I enter my top price and click bid now straight away. Don't bother trying to put in a lower bid at this point, eBay's bidding technology will do it on your behalf meaning you only pay an increment above the highest current bid before yours. So if the top bid is £45 and you bid £75, you will only pay £46 (depending on the set increment). The scary bit is that you don't know what everyone else’s top bids are, and therefore you might still lose out if someone else’s top price is higher than yours. But this is why it is so important to decide in advance what you maximum bid is. That way, if you lose out you know that the item was out of your price range and cost more than it was worth to you.

I have bought so much on eBay over the years, some of which I have then sold on or donated to charity when I stop using it. My best purchase was a Vivienne Westwood dress I got for £35. What a bargain! I was a clingy black draped dress and it just looked sensational on. I have never felt as beautiful and sexy as I did in that dress. I only wore it about 4 times and then it disappeared from a dry cleaners and I was devastated. I constantly check eBay now to find another one but I doubt I will ever get a bargain like that again.

These are just some of the items I've bought on eBay over the years that I still have:

Whistles Swallow print dress

Reiss scallop dress

Prada wedge trainers

Celine tote bag

Vintage eel skin clutch

Vintage crocodile skin clutch

Whistles leopard print backpack

I have bought countless other pieces. A lot from Whistles and Reiss as you can get their things for a real bargain, and they are quality enough to survive more than one owner. Russell and Bromley handbags, cult buy Zara jewellery that sold out, I'm a bit addicted to the feeling of finally getting my hands on something I've coveted for months or years.

A note on designer items - eBay is a lot better about fake listings now than it used to be but be smart, and remember that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. A Chanel handbag will still cost you thousands, because it is a Chanel handbag. Don't expect to find one for £250. The exception to this rule is my Vivienne Westwood dress. I will be bitter about that for the rest of my life.

I hope you've enjoyed this post and it might help you get some joy into your wardrobe without spending on brand new items. This is a much more sustainable option and also a lot of fun! I'd love to know if you've found any unicorn items on eBay in the past or had a success, let me know in the comments below.

For more tips on the art of upstyling check out my other blog posts here

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