Save Money by Buying Clothes on eBay

Wool, angora, cashmere--it seems like these materials make up at least 5% of every winter sweater, and they make me itch like crazy. Why is it so hard to find a nice cotton or acrylic sweater?

After about two months of trying to expand my winter wardrobe with no success, I turned to eBay. Not only does eBay have a better selection of non-itchy sweaters than any other store I've found, the clothes can be a great deal since used clothing has little resale value.

I ended up buying a total of nine sweaters at a total cost of $97.66, including shipping (in fact, the shipping was more expensive than a lot of the sweaters). That came out to an average price of $10.85 per sweater. It's hard to get a sweater at a store for that cheap even on clearance at the end of winter.

Of course, when I buy clothes on eBay, I have to take into consideration that I can't try them on before buying them and I can't return them. In my experience, whenever I buy clothes on eBay, I end up only liking about half of them (I've gone on similar eBay clothing sprees with jeans and slacks). This time, I only liked and actually wear 5 of the 9 sweaters I bought. So I really had to spend $97.66 to get 5 sweaters, meaning they cost about $20 each. Not quite as good of a deal. But still worth it to me, given how hard it is to find a 100% cotton sweater.

If you want to try buying clothes on eBay, I do have some tips for minimizing the number of bum purchases you end up with. I haven't always followed these in the past, and that's how I've ended up with some items I don't actually wear.

1. If the seller doesn't list the item's measurements, request them. If you're buying pants, for example, take the measurements of your favorite pair of pants and compare those measurements to whatever pants you're interested in buying. Just because something is the size you normally wear and even the brand you normally wear doesn't mean it will fit. In fact, even if you buy, say, a different color of an item you already own, it might not fit. One of the sweaters I bought recently had shrunk in the wash and was too small. If I had asked the seller for measurements, I would have known that the sleeves would be too short and I could have saved some money.

2. Immediately resell the items you don't like to recoup some of your money. eBay lets you list 5 items a month for free, so you have nothing to lose but a little bit of time. Do it while you watch TV.

3. Don't buy an item with subpar photos. This is probably so obvious that I don't even need to mention it, but don't get so caught up in the idea of buying something that you put your better judgment aside, buy it anyway, and hope for the best. Either ask the seller to email you better photos or skip the item.

4. Stick to familiar brands. It seems like no matter what size, some brands just don't fit some people. Maximize your chances of getting something that fits you on eBay by only buying brands that usually fit you.

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Related posts:

Don't Trade it In: Resell Your Used Stuff Yourself
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Post by Amy Fontinelle


George said...

As far as getting some good deals and ebay goes,

1. You can possibly use a seller's inability to spell to your advantage to find some good deals. Sites like (, etc) will search ebay for common misspellings of keywords you enter.

Most interested buyers will never see these misspelled listings, reducing the competition and most likely ending price.

Ebuyersedge also gives you the option of saving your favorite searches, then sending you an email when an item is listed matching one your saved searches, giving you a jump on other potential buyers.

This works best with 'Buy It Now's, but is also effective with auctions.

2. Whenever you send a question to a seller, use the "Ask a question" link that is on a page of another item they're selling that you're not interested in.

Maybe send the seller an offer to end the auction early. All they can do is say no.

3. If you bid on an ebay auction, use a sniping service (,, etc.) to avoid bidding wars, and hopefully save some money by not drawing early attention, and not giving manual 'nibbling' snipers a chance to react.

Lisa said...

I have also learned not to trust descriptions. I bought a barbie that ended up having a dented up box and plastic not even attached to box. It was not said in description anything about box being damaged, only that there might be some scuffs from sitting in storage. However, I complained to seller and she gave me my money back minus shipping and told me to just keep the doll. I have had this happend more than once, I think they are trying to fix this on ebay so that sellers must describe the item more accurately.
I know they recently changed the listings, so now you can get up to 100 listing a month for free as long as they start under $1 .