Some of my favourite pieces of vintage clothing have been bought from eBay– at bargain prices too! I have often found that vintage clothing pieces on eBay can cost considerably less than what you might pay in a dedicated vintage store.
Remember, in a vintage store you are paying a premium for someone to source, clean, and style each and every piece. It’s an art in itself!
That’s not to say shopping in vintage stores isn’t a good idea- it is! But knowing how to find vintage clothes on eBay is a great little trick to have up your sleeve if you are looking for something specific. (The vintage kilo sales in London are another way to snap up vintage at an affordable price).
You’re likely to pay less for the item, and have more choice online than you might do in person. My favourite way to buy vintage is in charity shops, but without a doubt the second-best way to find great vintage clothes is on eBay.
My best vintage eBay finds
“Oh, this? It’s vintage!”
My favourite pieces include a silk Chloe dress for £25, a beaded cocktail dress for £12, and a black suede jacket for £10 which has rarely left my side over the last 5 years.
You really can find almost anything on eBay, and once you catch the vintage bug, it’s hard to shake it! I still find myself regularly trawling through listings to find those unassuming bargains- just like charity shopping, vintage shopping on eBay requires you to regularly check what’s available in order to pick up the best items.
Learn how to find vintage clothes on eBay, and you’ll have the vintage wardrobe of your dreams in no time.
How to Find Vintage Clothes on eBay
Narrow down your search
If you’re looking for something specific, try to be as descriptive as possible so that the most relevant results appear. For example, instead of typing ‘vintage dress’ into the search bar, you could try typing ‘vintage 70s maxi dress’ which is likely to narrow down your search to what you really want to find.
However, if you’re open to anything and really do just want to find a great vintage dress, just narrow your search down to ‘vintage dress’ and your size- and start browsing! If you want to grab a bargain, you can sort the listings by ‘Ending Soonest’ which will enable you to bid on dresses that are just about to end.
If you like the look of the dress, and the price is great, you’re likely to get a beautiful and inexpensive vintage piece using this method.
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Use filters to your advantage
Filters are your friend when it comes to sourcing on eBay. Unfortunately lots of sellers will list their item as ‘vintage,’ when really, it isn’t. Remember to filter the condition by ‘used’ to ensure the item you are buying is actually vintage.
It’s also a good idea to ensure that the search category is set to ‘Vintage Clothing & Accessories,’ and set the location of item to ‘UK only’ unless you are happy to pay increased postage costs.
Filtering by size and material is also a good way to sort through the listings so that you have less items to look through. It sorts the wheat from the chaff, if you will.
For example, if you’re looking for a genuine leather suede skirt, you can bet that many of the listings will have ‘suede’ in the description- but many of the listings will be faux suede. The best way to get past these is to filter the material by leather suede to get the results you want.
Know your sizing
You may already know that vintage sizes and modern sizes are completely different to what they used to be. For example, a St Michael (M&S) skirt in a vintage size 10 might have been a 25 inch waist, but a modern day size 10 at M&S is now 27.5 inches.
Keep this in mind when searching for vintage clothing, and ask the seller to provide measurements if the fit is not clear.
Know your own measurements to decide whether something is going to fit you or not.
Sellers will either list vintage as its vintage size- for example, the St Michael skirt is labelled as a size 10, and it’s listed as a size 10. OR sellers will list things at a modern day size- so they might see that the skirt is labelled as a size 10, but list it as a modern day size 6.
Because of this, it’s a good idea to use the filters and tick multiple sizes. For example, if you’re a modern day size 8, you might tick that you would like to see results for size 8, 10 and 12 to make sure you don’t miss out on anything.
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Watch items that you’re interested in
Make good use of the ‘watch’ feature- not only will you have good visibility of all the items that you are interested in on your watch page, but the seller might send you a special discount.
If a seller can see that someone is watching their item and they are keen to sell it, they may offer a discount on the price to get it sold quickly.
Equally, eBay now has a feature where the seller can opt to let buyers make them an offer. If this feature is showing, you can offer the seller a lower price than the item is currently for sale for. If they don’t like the offer that you’ve made, they can either send you a counter-offer, or decline.
This is a great way to get a real bargain, especially if the seller is motivated to sell the item quickly- you never know, it may have been hanging around waiting to be sold for months!
If you’ve fallen in love with an item and it’s available as an auction listing, you want to make sure you don’t bid right away. Bide your time.
Instead of bidding straight away, you should watch the item until closer to the time the auction ends. This is because if there is someone else who is interested, you will only drive the price up for yourself. There is nothing worse than a bidding war!
Prepare your bid, and then put it through at around 8 seconds before the auction ends to make sure the item is yours.
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Know your sellers
Many people who sell vintage on eBay are professional vintage sellers. Also known as ‘resellers’. Like bricks and mortar vintage stores, these professional vintage sellers will often purchase their stock in bulk, and will restore it to their former glory.
For this reason, you can expect to pay a little more for items from professional sellers. You can usually spot their listings as they will use models, backdrops and mannequins to show off their stock to its full potential.
If you find a particular seller or store that you love, you can ‘save’ their listings and be notified every time they list any new stock.
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As well as being able to save sellers, you can also save searches. If you are looking for something specific, for example, ‘vintage Laura Ashley dress size 10,’ but didn’t find what you were looking for at that time, you could save that search for the future.
Whenever any new items are listed that match that description, you would be notified by email or text.
Use the app
Be sure to download the eBay app to search through the listings on the go. If you know that an auction is ending whilst you are out and about, you can still place a bid at the last second from your smartphone.
Sometimes I even set an alarm on my phone to remind me to bid if I really love an item!
It’s also easier and quicker to search through listings within the app. And if you wanted to start selling things on eBay, the app is super easy to use, and you can take photos of the items you are selling directly with your phone. Read my guide for top tips for selling on eBay if you’d like to know more.
Key things to remember:
- Use the search bar to your advantage- be as descriptive as possible.
- Use the filters to narrow down your search even further- this is particularly useful for sizing.
- Know your own measurements
- Save searches to get notified of new listings
- Make offers and bid strategically to get the best deals