I used to be an avid vintage shopper, scouring markets and vintage or second hand shops for treasures. I still love vintage but sadly, these days I'm usually never free to go shopping for it. Most shops I'd like a good rummage around are closed by the time I finish up for the day and weekends are almost never free. And let's face it - vintage shopping takes a lot of time. In recent years all my clothes shopping migrated online, including for vintage.
Every so often I peruse that great, open-all-hours vintage market place on the internet for bargains - Ebay. And I know I'm not alone judging from the bids I've lost to others and the number of watchers on items that catch my eye. In the past I've had some great successes buying vintage on Ebay (as well as spectacular failures). Focusing on the good I have some lovely Victorian and Edwardian pieces that were actually quite inexpensive. This lace embellished Victorian jacket, the gold leather flapper shoes and this ivory cream opera cape made out of a piano shawl are some of my favourite Ebay buys.
I've been using Ebay lately to look for vintage furniture for the flat but the last couple of evenings attention deficit drove me to the vintage women's clothing section. After a long spell perusing what was on offer, I have to say I felt it was harder to find quality and genuine items with reasonable start bids. Vintage price inflation has seeped into the start prices and some irritating claims and tricks are being tried by sellers to sell their wares, not all of them qualifying as vintage.
Now I take vintage to mean clothing that was genuinely made in a particular era, and we are talking eras spanning from a time starting thirty or forty years back, clothes that have some genuine fashion history behind them. But judging from what sometimes gets listed in the vintage clothing section I do wonder if the average Ebay vintage seller is familiar with this concept!
Some practises by sellers that kept cropping up repeatedly really did start to grate after a while and I thought they deserved calling out. So here they are - my pet peeves when hunting for vintage items on Ebay. Vintage sellers take note!
- Sellers listing modern second hand clothing in the vintage section tagged as "vintage style" - please cease and desist. You are taking up valuable screen space on my search list which could be filled with real vintage items. I don't want something that is vintage style. I want the real deal. Ebay can't you set up a separate category for "vintage style" items on their own? I swear it would be ten times the size of the real vintage section. Anyone know how to set up an Ebay search to avoid this phrase??
- Modern clothing posing as vintage - a secondhand item from Topshop, H&M, Karen Millen, New Look, Zara, and Miss Selfridge does not a vintage garment make. Please also read point one.
- They may look vintage-y but unless it was manufactured in the 1970s (or 80s at a push) or earlier your "vintage" Monsoon or Laura Ashley is usually just last season's or several seasons old Monsoon or Laura Ashley.
- Sellers using "Gatsby" or "Downtown Abbey" or whatever title of period dress movie or TV series which happens to be flavour of the month. It does not make your garment more desirable by comparing it to the costumes in a movie or screen show with a million dollar costume budget.
- Sellers asking four figure sums for vintage garments. I have two not very polite words to say to you. I can get me some runway pieces by top designers for that type of money that don't have moth holes, rips, tears, missing bits or a musty, moth balled smell and hundred year old perspiration marks. That old adage of flaws and imperfections being part of the charm of vintage clothing begins to wear off at around the £100 mark. Over £1000 I am more likely to think that you are a money launderer than entertain any notion of bidding on your overpriced item which you probably picked up for buttons.
- Posting an average UK size instead of posting accurate measurements of the garment. There is no average UK size people! A UK 8 in one store can be a UK 6 in another and a UK 12 in yet another. And it has probably changed since you last hit the change rooms on the high street. I'm tired of typing in the same request for chest, waist and shoulder measurements for your garments. Don't be so lazy and post some measurements! Or I won't bid!
- Getting your periods wrong. I've seen some pretty outlandish claims as to what constitutes a 20s flapper dress, what is Victorian, what is Edwardian, the list goes on. And then there is some blatant cover your ass type banding like "50s - 70s dress" - that's a time span of three decades! A very long time in fashion! Please do some research and at least try to get it right or admit that you just don't know.
Vintage Victorian riding jacket: Ebay