I'm an eBay Sleuth—Here's How I Find the Coolest Fashion Items on the Site

In the grand scheme of secondhand shopping and online shopping in general, eBay tends to be my last resort. If I'm on the hunt for a special vintage handbag or past-season pair of shoes, my search typically leads me down a path of open tabs, including The RealReal, Etsy, Poshmark, and the like. Only if I'm particularly desperate do I turn to eBay. The site's endless offering and often confusing range of price points don't exactly make for an online browser's paradise, but recently, I've found a renewed vigor for the site, and it's all thanks to the shopping expertise of Laura Reilly.

Reilly, founder and editor of Magasin, is a true eBay sleuth. She's a pro at sourcing the best fashion finds on the site, and one look at the collection of designer items she's amassed—from Prada heels to a matching Pleats Please Issey Miyake set—tells you all you need to know. And who among us wouldn't want to score their most coveted wish-list items at unthinkable discounts? That's what I thought. Ahead, Reilly is sharing her insider knowledge for uncovering the very best finds, so get ready to roll up your sleeves and dive into the world of eBay. Trust me. The rewards are well worth the extra effort. 

Tip #1: Filter Down to "Used" Items

Item eBayed: Burberry Trench Coat

"For general vintage, cut through the mass-produced fast fashion that makes up a hefty portion of the site's merchandise by searching for your term plus the word 'used.' eBay cleverly recognizes this search and also includes items described as pre-owned and pre-worn, expanding the results page to a broader selection of second-life fashion."

Item eBayed: Hermès Silk Scarf

"One of the benefits of buying secondhand clothing is being able to find fine fabrics at low costs. Searching garments by fabric can yield high-quality results. In fact, sometimes, in tandem with the above tip, I'll search for 'silk used' (while filtering in the sidebar to women's fashion) and find some amazing, unexpected items."

Tip #3: Include the Year

Item eBayed: Prada Kitten-Heel Flip-Flops

"If it's archival designer you're after, include the year in your search. For instance, when I'm looking for a wide range of vintage Gucci, I'll type 'gucci 1990' into the search bar, comb through results, and then update my search to 'gucci 1991' and so on and so on, all the way up to 2002 or beyond."

Tip #4: Take Advantage of Your Watch List

Item eBayed: Moda International Leather Trench Coat

"Even if I'm not sure I'll ever buy a piece, if it speaks to me, I'll add it to my watch list using the built-in heart button. I find myself going back through my saved items every so often and exploring lesser-known brands from the '80s and '90s that cropped up in my general searches and then unearthing treasure troves of those designers' hidden gems."

Item eBayed: Maison Margiela Tabi Flats

"When scoping out shoes, search by European sizing (e.g., if you're a US 6, search 36), and for clothes, consider Italian and French sizing too. Depending on your query, it may take some adjustments in the left-side filter to get it right, but the quality of the results is often higher caliber."

Tip #6: Be Strategic With the Sort Feature

Items eBayed: Pleats Please Issey Miyake Tank-and-Cardigan Set

"If I want to emulate the feeling of a thrift store, I'll try one of my above general search terms, like 'linen used,' filtered by women's fashion, and then sort using the drop-down on the upper right to show me 'Price + Shipping: Lowest First.' If I'm looking for deals on name brands, I'll search by 'Time: Ending Soonest.' The less time there is left to be outbid by a competitor, the more likely I am to find a good deal."

Tip #7: Re-Buy Your Thrifted Treasures

Item eBayed: L.L.Bean Shirt

"Perfectly fitted Levi's 550s, flowy Dior button-downs, over-starched L.L.Bean men's shirts, crisp Escada trousers—I found all of these things first at thrift stores or pricy vintage shops and then purchased them in multiples for a fraction of the price on eBay."