How To Shop Vintage Fashion On EBay

14/08/2014 16:45 | Updated 20 May 2015

Love vintage fashion but don't know where to find it? Let style blogger Johanna Payton be your guide...

This spring, I fulfilled a life goal: a walk-in wardrobe was installed in my bedroom. You might think it's a shallow ambition, but being able to store my myriad dresses somewhere custom-built – rather than ramming them into a dusty attic – is a big deal. Organising the wardrobe, I realised the vast majority of my clothes are secondhand, with many of my treasures snaffled on eBay.

In my 20s I was a high street junkie, but experience has taught me that dressing to impress is all about vintage. I have gradually put together a wardrobe that reflects my personality, suits my style and is a real talking point.


If, like me, you love original clothes and the buzz of a bargain, eBay is the shopping destination to die for. From a beaded, turquoise kimono-style gown, handmade in the 1960s by the seller's mum (£25), to the polyester paisley print 1970s shirt dress delivered promptly from a secondhand shop near Paris (less than a tenner), some of my proudest eBay purchases were cheap as chips.

After a decade of dedicated vintage eBay buying, I've put together some of my top tips to give you a (turning) head start:

1. Before you start searching, pin down the decade or era you're most interested in. Watch old films to inspire you, or simply google image search your fave fashion icons. I've always loved Molly Ringwald's wardrobe in real vintage as opposed to "vintage-style" clothes. If you're not sure, ask the seller to confirm if the piece is really from the past.

9. Don't discount badly-photographed pieces – some of the best bargains are sold by individuals rather than vintage boutiques, and they might not have the time - or skill - to take beautiful photos. It does help to see a dress being worn, so if it's a designer piece, or likely to fetch a high price, ask the seller if there are any photos of the item "in action".

10. If you find a gorgeous piece but it's not in your size, check if the seller has similar items for sale. eBay is all about personalised shopping and if a seller or boutique owner has a similar taste to yours, you may find they have other vintage treasures to make you swoon – hopefully in the right size.

11. The eBay app is an absolute must if you have a smartphone. It's so easy to bid and pay for items – even if you're at the office or in a meeting! I wait until the last five minutes of an auction before making a bid (it's like a game of fashion poker!) and the app means I can do that anywhere.

12. There's always an element of luck when you buy vintage on eBay. Be prepared for some simple alterations; I'm planning to attend a fun, local class (you get free cupcakes as well as learning basic sewing skills) but historically I've coped with a plentiful supply of Wundaweb!


Find the best vintage shops, salons, bars and diners in your area with our shopping guide Find Me Vintage.


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