Etsy is every craft market fanatic’s and vintage lover’s shopping mecca. A platform filled with vintage gems, handmade goods, and affordable finds? What’s not to love? Understandably, Etsy can be a bit overwhelming. With shops sourced globally and millions of items to choose from, it can be easy to shy away. Just as with anything (learning to swim, riding a bike, etc.), it takes time and a few tries to become a natural at navigating the depths of Etsy, and—you guessed it—I’m here to be your official guide.
Similar to any flee market you’ve visited IRL, it’s important to have the patience to sift through items while keeping in mind the specific pieces you’re searching for. Luckily, with Etsy, you’re able to shop from the comfort of your own home and utilize a search bar, which is a total game changer. Whether you’ve never attempted to shop on Etsy or are honestly confused where to even start, you’re in luck! I, a self-proclaimed Etsy guru, have come up with some tips for you to follow so that you too can become an Etsy expert. Hopefully, after reading through the below insights, you’ll be able to shop the world of Etsy with a confidence and ease you never knew you could feel.
Because I live in Florida, I’m always searching for throw-on-and-go dresses to wear year-round. I was immediately drawn to this silky robe because of its unusual yet satisfying color and knew it would be a versatile piece for my closet. I dress it up or down and even wear it open as a kimono paired with denim or a dress.
One of the best parts about Etsy is that you have the ability to be specific (hi, search bar!). We don’t have the luxury of getting an instantaneous curation of items when shopping at our local vintage shop or flea market, so be sure to take full advantage of this feature. Beyond just the search bar, pay close attention to your side bar while searching. Here you can input different price ranges and specify if you’d like the item to be handmade or vintage alongside some other features such as item location, etc.
This tropically printed romper is the perfect example of “getting specific.” I shopped out this piece for a tropical weekend getaway and had known exactly what I was in the market for. I wanted something that was breezy, cinched my waist, and screamed vacation. Luckily, it also fit in perfectly with my summer wardrobe.
For example, if you’re on the hunt for a ’90s silk black lace camisole, you can go ahead and type those keywords into the search bar followed by your price range and item type. Then just sit back and relax while you watch the items roll in. If you aren’t too keen on the search results, try tweaking your verbiage for a better process of elimination. If you’re searching for a rhinestone belt, for example, you can try swapping rhinestone for similar words such as embellished, crystal, shiny, or jeweled. This tool is not only revolutionary for the vintage and crafting world but also extremely satisfying, especially if you’ve experienced the frustration that comes with hunting through racks of vintage and leaving with nothing but discouragement.
A fun fact about me is that I love anything and everything rainbow. So naturally, when I needed a new everyday stacking ring, I went straight to Etsy, where I found this colorful piece. I haven’t taken it off since I purchased it last December.
Maybe you aren’t finding that specific item you’ve been dreaming of, or maybe it exists but is too expensive, or maybe you finally found it but in the wrong size—that means it’s time to get crafty! In case you haven’t noticed, Etsy has tons of products stocked on the site, meaning concocting a piece of your own is extremely feasible. For example, I was once on the lookout for a silk dress and was not getting the most desirable results—everything was either too big, too small, too expensive, or not the right color.
I finally ended up finding a piece I loved that but I knew it wasn’t going to fit the way I wanted it to, so I got crafty. I took a $35 vintage Dior nightgown (pictured above) and tailored it into a two-piece set that not only looked flattering but also ended up staying within my budget. My new-and-improved set was now exactly what I was looking for and then some. Getting creative with the original piece ended up benefiting me in the end as I now have a one-of-a-kind two-piece silk Dior matching set… that was $35… that I can wear multiple ways. I think the term “score” is an understatement here.
Voilà! My oversize nightgown–turned–two-piece set masterpiece.
Patience Is Key
Searching for that perfect item isn’t always easy. Know going in that it may take a few different keyword searches or page flips. Most of my favorite Etsy pieces I found by clicking on shops that looked interesting and then sifting through their inventory very intently, even if it took me clicking through 45 pages or so. From experience, I can confidently say that the product you’re looking for probably won’t appear on the first page of your search, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Yes, this process can be time-consuming, but don’t be too quick to give up—the end result is always worth it!
Lesson learned after this purchase: Etsy is always the answer. It took me forever to find an everyday pair of lightweight and affordable gold hoop earrings. Then, I finally found these once I finally realized I was looking in all the wrong places. I wear these babies every day and have them in two different sizes!
Read the Reviews
Since you aren’t there to inspect the items in person, it’s key to read the shop’s reviews and take note of the shop’s star rating. You want to make sure that what you’re ordering is authentic and well kept. On the flip side, it is always great to leave reviews for the shops that you are purchasing from. Not only will this help other shoppers, but oftentimes, the shop will offer you a discount on your next purchase as a thank-you.
I have an affinity for vintage designer pieces but am not yet at the place of being able to satisfy my expensive cravings. This graphic tee filled that void (I had been hunting for a designer T-shirt) and gave the same illusion of what I was looking for at just $22.
Don't Be Afraid to Bargain
A lot of people don’t know this, but you can actually bargain down prices on Etsy just like you would at your local vintage flee or craft fair. Now, knowing that, don’t be afraid to message the seller and see if they are willing to drop the price or meet you in the middle. Nine times out of 10, they will be willing to work with you and will either provide a discount code or drop the price on the listing for you to instantly purchase. I almost always try to bargain down prices, especially if I’m ordering multiple items from the same shop.
Just as bucket hats were starting to resurface, I found this vintage Dior bucket hat while aimlessly scrolling on Etsy. I bargained for about a day or two until myself and the buyer finally met in the middle. It’s become one of my favorite closet staples.
Keep Tabs on Your Favorite Shops
If you find yourself loving the pieces a certain shop has to offer, make sure to press the favorite button below the shop’s heading. Favoriting a shop essentially bookmarks it for you in the upper right-hand corner of your Etsy page, allowing for easy access in the future. Routinely checking up on your favorite shops allows you to keep up with newly added merchandise and shop with ease knowing you’ll almost always find something you love. Read on to see a few of my favorite shops and what I’m currently loving from each of them. Hopefully you’ll add them to your favorites too!