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How to Buy Lingerie From E-bay

1950s black lingerie pinup

E-bay is one of the best places online to find anything you want, lingerie included. But there are a few things to keep in mind to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible. I’ve put some of my favorite tips below…

1) First of all, use good search terms. Be as specific as possible. For example, I want to acquire all of the vintage Vanity Fair leopard print collection, so I not only search for “Vanity Fair” and “Vintage Vanity Fair” but also “Vintage Vanity Fair Leopard” and even “Vintage Vanity Fair Leopard Girdle.”

I also think it’s helpful to use misspelled search terms. Many times people are rushing to put listings up and don’t double-check their spelling. I’ve found items for Vanity Fair leopard print items listed under “Vanity Fair loepard,” for example.

2) When you find something you like, check the listing from top to bottom starting with the seller’s feedback. I believe e-bay has recently taken steps to make sure only sellers with high ratings are able to list items, but it’s still worth taking a look if their feedback is anything less than 100%.

You also want to look at the pictures in the listing. Generally speaking, more pictures are better, and you want to make sure pictures are taken from every angle including closeups of seams and any defects. Carefully read the measurements and the seller’s assessment of the quality and condition of the garment.

A seller should be able to say exactly what the measurements for any piece are, both stretched and unstretched. This kind of information is critical for vintage pieces, since a size 8 from the 1960s is not the same as a size 8 today. Finally, study the return policies and shipping costs. I’ve found that many “99 cent” listings often have outrageous shipping fees of $10.00 or more.

If you still can’t find what you need or have any questions at all, don’t be afraid to contact the seller. The way someone responds to you (and how long it takes them to respond) is a crucial factor when I’m deciding whether to buy from someone or not. If I can’t reach you before you get my money, what are the chances of you responding after I send you my money?

I also like to use e-bay’s tools like saved searches, saved sellers, and e-mail alerts. This allows me to find out when an item I’ve been looking for has been listed.

3) Pay via Paypal using your credit card. This is very important. You want to pay using Paypal because it allows you to file a complaint and (potentially) get your money back if you never receive an item.

Paying via credit card gives added consumer protection. If Paypal falls through, you can always file for a return of the funds with your credit card company.

An important note: if you file against a seller, make sure to do so before the time is up (I think it’s 30 days). File even if the person says your item in the mail. You can always close an open case, but you can’t open a case once the allowed time is past.


Final words:

Don’t buy corsets from e-bay. Ever. Most of the corset listings on e-bay are poorly made knock-offs using pirated photos from reputable websites.

Avoid overseas sellers. While there are some exceptions to this rule (such as sellers from the UK), I’ve found the headache isn’t worth it. Not only do you have to factor in extended shipping times, you may not have the same payment protection as you would from a seller in the US. Some countries (like China) are also notorious for e-bay scams.

Cross-reference products online to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Some sellers significantly mark up the cost of items, or even claim some items are vintage when they’re not (this happens often with Rago and Lady Marlene products). There’s no reason to pay $50 for something you can get elsewhere for $35.

Cora Harrington

Founder and Editor in Chief of The Lingerie Addict. Author of In Intimate Detail: How to Choose, Wear, and Love Lingerie. I believe lingerie is fashion too, and that everyone who wants it deserves gorgeous lingerie.

4 Comments on this post

  1. Paul says:

    I love your site for years and follow it closely. It has always had great tips for buying for my wife. Figleaves.co.uk being one of my favorite sites. But lately I have desired to wear lingerie myself. In fact in the past I have enjoyed wearing fully fashioned seamed stockings and suspenders. But can you tell me where a guy could buy more of the older fashioned lingerie likes girdles etc?
    I hope you can help me out with perhaps unusual request?

  2. katie says:

    Love this post! I've found some great deals on ebay, but you have to be extremely careful. Some seller post pictures of things they aren't selling. One U.K. seller shows a waspie with a thong but is only selling the thong so please read the listing. Also there is a site called Fat Fingers which is great! The search ebay for misspellings:

  3. SoCalMan says:

    Over the years, I've found eBay to be a great place to pick up previous season's releases for such great Euro houses as La Perla and Lise Charmel at steep discounted prices (80% off list).

    I do, however, disagree with the sweeping generalization to never buy corsets from eBay. I agree there is a knock-off issue especially from the sellers based in China, but there are a few reputable US-based corsetieres where you can get great deals not only on a made-to-order corset, but especially great discounts on premades, either from unclaimed inventory, or made by their seamstresses during down time.

  4. Kelly says:

    Great guide. Since I'm not much of a vintage shopper (it takes more patience than I have!) I usually try to make sure things say "BNWT" (brand new with tags) so I know I'm not getting something used. I might still get it if it's used (if I do stumble upon a great vintage slip or something) but whether or not it has the tags makes a difference in how much I'm willing to pay for it. Sometimes people say things are new but if the swing tags aren't still attached, I just assume it's been used even if they say otherwise.

    Oh, and if I'm buying a set, sometimes I buy half on ebay. For example, I bought a set last week. The bra wasn't on ebay (at least, not BNWT) so I bought it from HerRoom.com. But the matching panties *were* on ebay UK, so I bought two brand new matching bottoms (a thong and boyshorts) and had them shipped to me for less than one would have cost retail on HerRoom.

    I love nice lingerie but I'm still a bargain hunter at heart ;-)

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