This guide aims to give helpful, practical advice about buying clothing on eBay so that you can complete transactions knowing that when you receive your new garment it will fit you!
You can buy some fabulous garments on eBay AND at bargain prices...but judging the sizing of a garment and deciding whether an item of clothing will fit you is more difficult without being able to see the garment first. The hints and tips in this guide give you practical advice on how to go about solving this problem when buying clothing on eBay.
I have been buying second hand clothing for myself online since 2001 and have been selling garments on eBay since 2003. Over this time I have learnt some valuable information regarding how to make the right clothing purchases on eBay and how to avoid buying items that will sit in the wardrobe unworn. I thought that it would be helpful to share some of the things that I have learned with other clothes-loving eBayers!
HINTS & TIPS ABOUT SIZING & FIT
You've searched on eBay and have found a perfect top: it looks stunning and it's your size so you bid on it and win it - you are really excited that this could be the bargain of the year. The top arrives and so you open it and try it on - aaargh it's too small on the bust or too tight on the tummy or not long enough for you etc. We've all been in this situation and it is very disappointing to say the least. So here are a few tips as to how you can minimize the chance of this happening and maximize the chance that your item will fit you well:
An item may be your dress size but we all know how sizing can vary between shops - you may be a size 16 in Jigsaw but only a size 12 in Monsoon as some stores are skimpy and some are generous with their sizing.
Is it a generous size X or a fitting size X?
Here is a little list of how I have found the sizes of garments generally come up in some of the stores that I am familiar with plus some general information about the sizing:
- Monsoon - generous / very generous. Sizes 8-20. Trousers / skirts are longer length - ideal for taller figures.
- Evans - very generous. Sizes 16-32. Designed for fuller figures / plus sizes. Tops are fuller and longer in length. Petite & Tall range available.
- Boden- generous. Sizes 8-20. Regular and long lengths in bottoms so will fit petite as well as tall.
- Wallis - generous. Sizes 8-20. Trousers / skirts are longer length - ideal for tall figures. Petite range available.
- Principles - generous. Sizes 8-20. Trousers / skirts are longer length - ideal for taller figures. Petite range available.
- Dorothy Perkins - generous. Sizes 6-16. Tall & Petite range available.
- Laura Ashley - generous. Sizes 8-20. Trousers / skirts are longer length - ideal for taller figures.
- Marks & Spencer / M&S- generous. Sizes 8-30. Petite and plus size collections available. Trousers / skirts are sold by length to suit all heights.
- Per Una - accurate / generous. Sizes 8-20. Trousers / skirts come in three lengths Regular, Short / Small and Long so are suitable for tall & petite figures. Tops can be a little short in body length sometimes.
- Next - accurate. Sizes 8-20. Skirts / trousers are sold in Petite, Regular, Long and Extra Long lengths to suit all heights. Petite & Tall range available.
- Long Tall Sally - accurate. Sizes 10-20. Designed for tall figures over 5ft10". Trouser / skirt lengths are extra long. Tops are a longer body and sleeve length.
- Warehouse - accurate. Sizes 6-16. Trousers / skirts are a longer length - ideal for tall figures.
- Oasis - accurate / fitting. Sizes 8-16. Trousers / skirts are a longer length - ideal for taller figures. Tops can be short in body length - ideal for petite figures.
- River Island - accurate / fitting. Sizes 6-18. Trousers are sold in X short, Short, Regular & Long lengths to suit all heights. Tops are short in body length - ideal for petite figures.
- Topshop - accurate / fitting. Sizes 4-16. Tall & Petite range available.
- Kew - accurate / fitting. Sizes 8-16.
- Jigsaw - accurate / fitting. Sizes 8-16. Trouser / skirts are a longer length - ideal for taller figures.
- Coast - accurate / fitting. Sizes 8-16.
- LK Bennett- accurate / fitting. Sizes 8-16.
- Noa Noa - accurate / fitting. Sizes up to 16. Tops are shorter in the body - ideal for petite figures.
- Hobbs - fitting / very fitting. Sizes 8-16. Trousers / skirts are a longer length - ideal for the taller figure.
- Whistles - fitting / very fitting. Sizes 6 -16? Tops are short in body length - ideal for petite figures
- H&M / Hennes - fitting / very fitting. Sizes 6-26? Trousers / skirts are longer length - ideal for tall figures. Plus size collection available.
- Miss Selfridge - fitting / very fitting. Sizes 6-16. Tops come up shorter in body length - ideal for petite figures. petite collection available.
The size that you need can also vary amongst garments in the same store due to different cuts and fabrics - you may need a smaller size in jersey tops, because they are stretchy and will allow for some 'give', than you do in cotton or silk tops without any stretch. The point being that you can't really be sure that a garment is definitely going to fit you based on the dress size alone. Therefore you will not only need to know the size of the garment but you will also need information about the fabric it is made from and you will also need some measurements. I always state the fabric content of garments and whether they have any stretch in my item descriptions but not all sellers do this, so here are a couple of useful questions to ask about the fabric of a garment:
Fabric / Material
What fabric is it made from?
Is it stretchy at all? / Does it have any 'give'?
Fabrics containing elastane, Lycra, jersey cotton, modal etc. will have some stretch to them so you can allow for a bit of give beyond any measurements stated. Fabrics such as cotton lawn, pure linen, 100% polyester etc. will not have any stretch and so any measurements stated will be the maximum for that garment.
To ensure a good fit when buying an item of clothing on eBay you will need to know the measurements of the garment. A number of sellers state the basic measurements of their items in the item descriptions but not all sellers do this and so you may need to ask some questions.
You will need to decide what measurements you need to know. What are the most important measurements for you, for the type of clothing that you are looking for? If you have a particular body shape or an area which is difficult to fit well then this will be a priority measurement for you i.e. if you are tall and need a long arm length in long sleeved tops then this will be an important measurement for you to know. I created a quick Word Document with a short list of measurement question templates for the types of clothing that I look for most regularly on eBay (tops, skirts, trousers etc.), then when I need to ask about a garment I can easily copy and paste the appropriate question from the Word Document into the My Messages: Ask Seller A Question box - it saves a lot of time and typing!
Remember that the measurements taken by the seller are of the actual garment and not of the body that will fit into it. Therefore it makes more sense to use measurements of your own clothing as a guide to what you need rather than going by your body measurements. Also it is not always easy to measure yourself accurately. So if you have a particular top / pair of trousers / garment that fits you really well and looks flattering then it is a good idea to use it as a template for the measurements that you need for this type of garment i.e. I have a pair of H&M trousers that fit me really well so I have made a quick note of the waist, hip, inside leg and hem width measurements of these trousers. I have also made a note of the thigh / upper leg width measurements of them as my thighs are a problem area to fit. I use the note of these measurements to compare to the measurements of wide leg trousers listed on eBay and this helps me make informed judgements as to whether garments will fit me properly. It may seem like a little bit of faffing around but it really does help to prevent me wasting money on garments which don't fit me.
HOW CLOTHING CAN BE MEASURED: A BRIEF GUIDE
I have included this section as sellers do differ in the way they take measurements. If there are multiple ways of taking a measurement and this measurement is a vital for the fit of a garment for you then it is worth finding out how the seller has taken their measurement. I do not pretend to be an expert here, as I am not a dressmaker and so do not know the correct way to take measurements, so I have just stated some of the different ways that people measure clothing.
- Chest / Bust - usually measured from underarm to underarm on the garment and then doubled. A top measuring 17 inches underarm to underarm will be listed as having a 34" chest measurement. Note: On measurements that are usually doubled some sellers don't remember to double so if the measurement seems ridiculous i.e. a top is listed as a 15" chest then you can safely presume that the measurement needs to be doubled and the top actually has a 30" chest.
- Across the hem - measured from one side seam to the other side seam across the bottom of the top and then doubled as above.
- Length - be careful with this one as some sellers will measure from the top of the shoulder to the hem and some will measure from the back of the neck to the hem.
- Arm length - sellers also measure this two ways: from under the arm to the cuff or from the top of the shoulder to the cuff. I think the under arm one is the correct one but I'm not a seamstress or dressmaker.
- Waist - from side seam to side seam and then doubled.
- Hips - tricky as different people tend to think of their hips being in different places. As a general rule I measure 8 inches down from the top of the waistband and then measure side seam to side seam and then double it.
- Inside Leg - from the crotch seam, down the inner seam of the leg to the bottom of the hem
- Outside leg - from the top of the waistband to the hem
- Hem width - across the bottom of one of the trouser leg hems
- Front rise - from the crotch seam join, up to the top of the waistband at the front
- Back rise - from the crotch seam join, up to the top of the waistband at the back
- Thigh / upper leg - from the crotch seam join, across the upper leg of one trouser leg to the side seam on the outside of the leg, then double it.
- Waist and Hips as trousers
- Length - some people measure from the top of the waistband, down the side seam to the hem and some measure from the top of the waistband in the front middle to the front middle of the hem
- Chest, Waist and Hips as above
- Length - some people measure from the top of the shoulder to the bottom of the hem and others measure from the back of the neck to the bottom of the hem.
Some sellers will give measurements in inches and some will give them in centimetres so it is a good idea to keep a tape measure near your computer so that you can quickly convert measurements into your preferred units.
The key to making the perfect clothing purchase on eBay is communication with the seller. This may seem really obvious but if the information that you require is not contained within the Item Description of a listing then it really is worth the effort to ask the seller anything and everything that you need to know about the garment that they are selling before you bid on an item (using the 'Ask Seller A Question' link in the listing). This will help you to accurately judge the sizing of the garment and therefore help you to know whether it will be suitable for you or not. Most sellers are usually happy to answer any questions as it shows that you are genuinely interested in buying their item. It is a good idea to ask your questions early on in the run time of an auction or buy it now listing, especially if you require a lot of additional information not included in the listing. Asking a seller lots of questions an hour or so before the listing ends may not result in a reply because of time constraints so please bear this in mind and try to plan ahead.
Finally, I sell second hand women's clothing (amongst other items) on eBay all year round. I list garments seasonally and so in spring / summer I sell t-shirts, lightweight tops and linen trousers / skirts and in autumn / winter I sell long sleeved tops, knitwear and warmer weight trousers / skirts. I tend to sell high street brand name garments and clothing from brands which I like myself such as Boden, Monsoon, Jigsaw, Kew, Per Una, Laura Ashley, Hobbs, Next, Long Tall Sally and Coast. I sell garments in all sizes from size 8 to plus sizes. So please feel free to take a browse through my listings where you will see genuine items, listed honestly with as much information as possible by a seller who genuinely loves clothes!
Thank you for taking the time to read my guide - I sincerely hope that it has been helpful to you and that this advice will help you to make more successful clothing purchases on eBay in the future.
Happy bidding, buying and wearing!!