Don’t get strung out by the way I look

September 14, 2008

I have been doing a lot of clothes shopping on eBay.

This is a quite different experience from normal shopping. For a start, they seem to sell the kind of clothes I actually wear. In addition to that, almost everything costs less than a tenner. (It would not be true to say that everything on eBay costs less than a tenner, but the clothes I buy do. Obviously no-one else has the same taste as me, which I could get worried about if I could be bothered.)

On the minus side, I can’t try them on before I buy and I have to judge from photos. So I’ve ended up with a couple of jackets that are all the wrong shape, and a ravishing pair of shoes that are too small for me. That’s okay – there’s always the clothes swap. And in the last month, I have acquired about seven jackets, the rapidly-becoming-fabled snakeskin peep toe high heels (for £4.50 including postage), black patents (also high heels, why do you ask?) and some very good face cream for about half its retail price. And a couple of dresses are winging their way to Foxtrot Road even as I write. (I’ll need jackets if I get a job. There’s the work connection. Hah.)

I’ve paid a little over £100 for the lot, and most of that was the face cream.

It’s a whole new shopping strategy. I put in very low bids on lots of items and get a few of them. There’s a pleasing randomness to it. It’s not consumerism – nothing new is being manufactured to feed my habit. It’s kinda disposable shopping, in that I’m expecting a certain proportion of purchases to be wrong. And that’s okay, because I’m paying an average of about £12 per item. I can afford for a certain proportion of purchases to be wrong. But it is not like any other kind of shopping I have ever done before.

And my wardrobe is being upgraded, because I am finding clothes that I actually want, rather than what is fashionable this season. I lived in a green velvet jacket for eleven years, and then it died (funny, that) and I was lost and bereft. And now I’ve found the identical jacket, in burgundy and exactly my new size. I have found a brown dress that’s almost identical to the black dress that I’d live in if it weren’t black, which doesn’t suit me. And it might not fit, but it’s worth the risk.

I spend a lot of time thinking about my clothes. I know this is not the kind of interest I should put on my CV, and I do still feel a little ashamed of it. I always feel I should have grown-up interests like politics or history or classical literature. (Actually, I really should write a post about this. My interests are so demotic compared to those of my family, with the sole exception of my love of Wagner.) But I get better and better at taking simple pleasure in my wardrobe. And it does make me happier than almost anything.

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6 Responses to “Don’t get strung out by the way I look”

  1. birdwoman Says:

    That’s encouraging. Maybe I should try Ebay for clothes – I’ve never bought clothes or shoes from there because I’m never sure if they’ll fit (although maybe I could learn to alter them!).

  2. Ankaret Says:

    I buy most of my clothes on eBay. I find it much more bearable than having to trudge round actual shops.

  3. Francesca Says:

    So what advice do you have for the new eBayer?

  4. Ankaret Says:

    I will have a think about this. I think you already know all the basics like ‘check people’s feedback’ and ‘search under common misspellings like ‘burgandy’ if you can face it, you might find a bargain that way’.

    I have a few irrational bugbears like not buying from people who will only take payment by cheque (I’m sure the vast majority of them are on the level, but it’s landed me in too many ‘the cheque went missing in the post’ situations, and life is too short to end up in that kind of hassle over a £5 skirt). I also don’t buy from people who have an enormous block of shouty text at the bottom of the page, usually in bright red capitals, about their seller policy, because it makes me think they’re likely to be shouty and unreasonable in person if there’s some kind of dispute.

    In general, I think it’s a lot easier if you know what size you are in various brands, as then you can search on that size and that brand with a reasonable presumption of things fitting. Also, if it’s from a brand that has an online presence and the item’s relatively new, it’s worth seeing whether you can find it on the original brand’s site – there may be a better picture than the one the seller’s got.

  5. Francesca Says:

    I’d never have thought of that! What other common misspellings are there? I usually wear brown, green, red.

    I don’t like the shouty text either. I hadn’t thought of checking first – thank you for the thought.

    I have found that if I email people to ask them to measure garments for me, they’re usually very helpful. (Essential with jacket length.) But I jave been avoiding original brand pix because I assume they’re always photoshopped, or equivalent thereof.

    I will check some of these things more carefully in future. Thank you.

  6. Ankaret Says:

    ‘Sleave’. Possibly they’re just quoting Shakespeare, or indeed Bertie Wooster, and talking about the ravelled sleave of care, but I don’t think so somehow.

    Not terribly helpful with clothing, but as far as jewellery goes, it’s worth searching on ‘chocker’ and ‘earing’.

    There’s a ‘find common misspellings’ tool here.


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