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Fashion Statement

Andrew Forsythe

I’VE PREVIOUSLY written about the dramatic turn my life took when I went from carefree bachelor to husband and proud father of four. With multiple college educations looming, I drastically curtailed my spending, including on my professional wardrobe.

Initially, instead of the Hickey Freeman suits in which I’d previously indulged, I was happy with the latest sale at Jos. A. Bank. But eventually, I dipped my toe in uncharted waters—buying clothes on eBay.

This comes with risks. It’s difficult to judge how something fits until you try it on. A safer option is a men’s consignment store where you can try before you buy. But while women’s consignment stores are plentiful, men’s tend to be scarce and, when you do find one, the selection can be limited. By contrast, the selection on eBay is vast, and there are ways to mitigate the risk.

First, many eBay clothes sellers offer returns, with the buyer only paying for shipping. Better still, some sellers pick up the shipping costs on returns.

In addition, reputable eBay clothes sellers will offer not only extensive photos of their wares from every angle, but also the exact measurements. What if you’re buying a suit? That’ll require alterations, but so will a retail suit off the rack. Either way, you’ll be paying for tailoring.

There are other ways to mitigate the risk. If there’s a particular brand and model of shoe that you’ve previously owned, you know that—if you find the same one in your size—you’ll probably be fine. I like boat shoes. One of the high-quality brands is Sperry. When my current pair is wearing out, I know that if I can find the same or similar model in an 8½, I’m likely going to have a great fit. I’ve had similar experiences with pricey Alden and Johnston & Murphy dress shoes.

With eBay, it’s easy to keep tabs on specific items. The “saved searches” function will email you any time an item fitting the description you entered is newly listed.

The great joy of shopping for clothes on eBay is the incredible prices. Because folks are hesitant to buy clothes online, sellers discount even the finest brands substantially and often drastically. In addition, many eBay clothes sellers include the “make an offer” option. Even if they don’t, you can send them a message with an offer. When it comes to clothes, even lowball bids are often accepted.

I’ve gotten quite a few memorable bargains, including a couple of top-quality business suits in mint condition for a fraction of the retail price. And those Sperry boat shoes I mentioned? They’re currently retailing for up to $90. But I recently picked up a brand new pair on eBay for $15, including taxes and shipping.

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Veggi Vet
Veggi Vet
5 months ago

I source my wardrobe from a couple of consignment stores nearby as well as eBay. I cannot remember the last time I bought a new piece of clothing! Better for my wallet and the environment👍.

Ormode
Ormode
5 months ago

eBay resellers get their items for dirt cheap. It is nearly impossible to sell suits or dress shoes at flea markets or tag sales, so when a reseller comes along and offers $2 a pair for shoes, or $5 for a suit, the vendors gladly accept – here, take them all, I’ll give you a deal! The chance of an actual end user who needs that exact size coming along is pretty remote.

Andrew Forsythe
Andrew Forsythe
5 months ago
Reply to  Ormode

Thanks, Ormode. And from the consumer’s perspective, the advantage of ebay is that the inventory is so extensive that, sooner or later, they can usually find their exact size in many or even most clothing items.

Bob Wilmes
Bob Wilmes
5 months ago

You can actually use ebay keyword alerts for items such as expensive brand shoes in x-large sizes in new condition to save time. That way you don’t even have to spend time searching. ebay will send you an email with the link to the merchandise being offered. I’ve also found that many times you can offer less than the asking price and many times the ebay sellers will accept your offer.

Andrew Forsythe
Andrew Forsythe
5 months ago
Reply to  Bob Wilmes

Bob, thanks for your comments. I mentioned the “saved searches” function in my post and I agree the email alerts are a great way to save time searching.

Likewise on the offers—especially when it comes to clothes, I’ve found sellers to be very negotiable.

Last edited 5 months ago by Andrew Forsythe

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