Ebay buying has been a big part of my life since I was about 15 or so. I started out as a record collector, searching out rarities, then turned to clothes when I realised that ebay is actually a pretty good resource for plus size shopping. When I was in my final year of university, I started buying vintage wholesale and set up an ebay business specialising in vintage clothes for all sizes. This paid me through an MA in Gender Studies (I love that selling fatty vintage clothes paid for my research into fat activism!), and came to an end earlier this year when I had to stop living with my boyfriend and move into a shared house again (and start working a full time job again). I still do a bit of selling (my etsy shop is here) but not on the same scale anymore.
Searching for bargains on ebay is a lot harder nowadays. You have to be prepared to commit time and effort, and look at a lot of horrible items to find the best available. There's no easy way to find amazing stuff, but I thought I might write a short guide anyway, so here goes:
- Use the minimum amount of search criteria possible. I generally just go with "dress 22" or even "22" if I have time free to look through. The best bargains are items that are labelled "dress size 22" without brand or any depth of detail. You'll have to sift through a lot, but this is where the bargains lie.
- Use the ebay price filters to avoid amazing things that are way out of your price range. These are found on the left hand side of the page, to the left of your results (on ebay UK anyway) This last month I didn't want to spend anything over £10 (including postage) on anything I bought. So if I fancied a browse, I would always use these filters to make sure I didn't fall in love with needlessly pricey items. This will also narrow your results down considerably!
- Search around your size. Sizing is not standardised, so look for a size either way of the one you would normally look for and ask for measurements. You might be surprised!
- Keep aware of what you're looking for, by regularly checking high street websites. Sometimes people take bad pictures, but I recognise a pattern or a shape and connect it to something I saw a year or two back.
- As a follow up, always check badly photographed items!
- WATCH ITEMS, and use an ebay sniper. I use goofbay which is free, and will bid on an item in the last few seconds for you. Don't get caught in a bidding war in the days before the auction ends, as you will end up paying more. Also, I find using a sniper is helpful when it comes to monitoring your spending on an item - if days before the item ends, you determine a maximum price that you are willing to pay, place the snipe, then you won't get caught in a last minute bidding frenzy which sees you spending £15 on something you only wanted for £5.
- With vintage items, I find that some search terms - oversized, swing coat, tent dress, etc - will occasionally bring up plus sized items that are being sold as "oversized" to skinny hipster types.
- A lot of ebay sellers with pin a larger dress on a skinny mannequin - sometimes this is used to make the dress look more fitted (I hate it when sellers do this) to push the price up, but sometimes it's done out of necessity if the seller only has the only mannequin. I often find dresses in my size badly pinned in photographs (but the measurements sound perfect) go for much less than others.
I'd love to hear if anyone else has any tips I've missed? What have been your best ebay bargains?