Ethical Fashion - 5 Tips to Update Your Wardrobe Using eBay

I have been on an eBay mission of late. This is me - I go through the motions with eBay. I'm all or nothing. On a roll or just can't be bothered. 

Lately though, it's go time. I've done some good post-baby clothes clearing out - anything that was feeling too frumpy, too worn out and clothes that I was actively avoiding got purged. This left room for a few items that I wanted to replace in a more thoughtful way. Good basics that would see me through this Winter to Spring transition without breaking the bank. Have a look at what I've snagged...

Ethical Fashion - 5 Tips to Update Your Wardrobe Using eBay
Ethical Fashion - 5 Tips to Update Your Wardrobe Using eBay

Denim Dress - Bibico, Wool Shirt - Zara, Checked Tunic - Plumo, Black & Grey Cardigans - COS, Mustard/Green Top - COS, Long Grey Cardigan - Zara. All found on eBay and I paid between £5 - £15 for each item - a huge savings compared to the RRP. 

There are so many amazing professional sellers out there on eBay, and if you are a vintage clothing lover, you could whittle away a great many hours scouring all the vintage eBay shops for unique and rare finds. Trust me, I have. I adore the fact that I can secondhand shop at home in my jammies without having to root through the bowels of a musty charity shop (that sounds unfair - I still do love a good rummage in a charity shop but there is less time for that these days) and I am still able to keep my sense of style on a budget. 

eBay clothes-buying is a such a great way to be a conscious consumer when it comes to ethical fashion but it is a bit of a fine art. There are a few hard lessons that I've learned along the way in my years of buying clothes on eBay that I want to share with you so you can avoid them and make sure that when you get your bid on, you know what you're doing. 


When I'm after a specific thing, sometimes I have to play the waiting game. It's all in the name of slow fashion; being patient so that you get something quality that you really want and that will last instead of something kinda like what you were after but not quite (so you wear it once out of guilt and then it lives in the bottom of the wardrobe - familiar?). Lately I've been tending to search specifically for brands that I love but am not in a place to buy new from right now. i.e. COS coat size 12 or TOAST trousers 12. There's a little search alert button you can activate and enter your specific search requirements into that will send you an email or eBay notification when an item is listed that matches your search. Sometimes it helps to set alerts for a variety of sizes as well. Helpful huh?! My advice would be to hold out for a while and see what comes up. People are listing thousands of items a day - your perfect item will come!


As we all know, sizing can be vastly different from one clothing brand to the next. You may need to do your homework with your own measurements and shape and then cross reference with a similar item on the brand's website (who should mostly all have size guides online). You want to make sure that when you order what would normally be a standard medium t-shirt, you aren't going to get something resembling a skin tight crop top (I'm looking at you H&M and your ridiculous sizing). This tip especially applies for buying vintage clothing items. Clothing made for bodies in the 50's and 60's were much more fitted to a smaller frame, so it's important to read the item details and not be afraid to ask the seller for specific measurements if it isn't explicit in the listing. (R.I.P. the 'medium' vintage playsuit I bought last summer that would only be appropriate to wear if camel toes became all the rage) Know your sizing. Ask questions.

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I got this beautiful linen shirt (Hobbs) for £8 last week. I searched up a size because I like it loose and - well - boobies. Can't wait to wear this in the summer months too.


The art of eBay is all in the search terms. If you keep your search broad to begin with (i.e. Ladies Vintage Dress), have a browse and then begin to narrow it down using the advanced features (i.e. Ladies Vintage Smock Dress Black Size 14 UK etc etc) you will get a good feel for things.  You have to get into the mind of the seller a bit and think about how other people might list an item that you're after. One person's 'green' may be another persons 'khaki'. One persons 'vintage' might be another persons 'retro' or 'boho' - you know what I mean? Also, if you find an item that you really like and looks like it is in good knick, trying checking out what else that seller is listing as it may be that they may have more items in your size and style and would be willing to combine postage costs for you if other items were suitable.  


As much as eBay has been sold in the past as a platform for buying second hand, it has really moved on from that. There are so many wholesale sellers on there now, offering on-trend clothing items at the smallest of tempting prices. Most of these sellers are from China or India and in my naive experience (not reading the finer details), you don't ever get exactly the item you think you are getting (sizing in these countries are usually WAY off, they take a zillion years to come and the quality is mega shoddy too). Then it's a total faff to try to post it back for a return (so adding to the clothing graveyard at the back of the wardrobe). Regardless of the dud items, this is just another way of buying cheap fast fashion clothing and tempting as it may be, should be avoided if you are wanting to be more thoughtful about where your clothes come from and how they are made. Don't be fooled into a false sense of ethical shopping just because it's on eBay! I always check the location of the seller before I bid or buy now to make sure that they are in the UK and also ensure that items I'm searching for are actually 'secondhand' (you can specify all of this in the advanced search bar). It's always worth double checking. 


If on your searching you find something you are keen on, don't feel pressured to bid right away. Sometimes items are listed for auction for long period of time so it's a good idea to hit 'watch' and that way you can keep an eye on the item until nearer the time of sale. I treat this almost like my online shopping basket. I'll watch a bunch of things; some things I'll 'unwatch' eventually as I talk myself out of them and others I will go back to and decide to bid on. If I'm keen, I'll put in a maximum bid of what I'd be willing to go up to a few hours or even a day before the auction is due to finish - especially if I know I'm not going to be around at the time of the auction ending. If I like it but I'm not in a mad panic, I'll keep an eye on the item down to the last few minutes (you can see how many other people are watching the item as well) and then put a bid in. I'll keep my maximum bid amount until the final few seconds if it's getting competitive and fire it in as a final attempt. It helps to have a figure in your head of what your absolute limit is for a particular item so you don't get caught in a frenzy when it's down to the wire.

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I got two COS cardigans from the same seller (same cardi in two colours. One I paid £5 for the other £7) so she combined the postage for me. Chuffed to bits - have been looking for quality grey and black cardigans for AGES.

Some of the rubbish eBay experiences I've had over the years could have put me right off using it but learning these few lessons along the way has now made it a much more enjoyable and exciting experience - the thrill of winning an auction - so good! These tips should really help you to avoid some of my mistakes.

I've had some really brilliant finds on eBay over the years - items that I know I could never have afforded new and unique bits of clothing that I will love for a long time. Buying secondhand is such an awesome way to slow down the fast fashion train, give someone else's clothes another lease of life and continue to enjoy and hone your own personal style.

Have you ever bought clothes on eBay? Tell me your BEST find! Or if you haven't - why not? Does it seem like too much hassle? It's not, I promise! Leave me a comment here or over on my facebook page and let's chat all things eBay!