The absolute best deals you’ll find anywhere will probably come from thrift stores, eBay, Etsy and StyleForum’s Buy & Sell. The downside to these is that you have very little control over the selection, quality, and opportunity. You also need a lot of patience.
Thrifting: This is the most hit-or-miss, but it’s got a lot of distinct advantages. The prices are often very cheap and you can try things on first before you buy them. You may also find very nice things from a period when garments were better made. Jesse here at Put This On wrote a great series of articles on thrifting. So has Alex at A Fistful of Style and Trent at Survival of the Fittest. Be sure to give them a read.
Not sure what brands are worth buying? Read Put This On’s Loosey-Goosey Brand Guide for Thrifting Suits & Sportcoats.
eBay: This is a more expensive and risky than thrifting, but there are some great advantages. Obviously, the selection is spotty and random, but you can at least zero in on things quickly. Unfortunately, you can’t try things on before you buy, and you’re vulnerable to losing your bid to someone hungrier (or wealthier) than you. My advice is to set up a few saved searches, hone in on better items using the option bar on the left-hand side, and always ask sellers for measurements. And be sure to ask the seller if the piece smells of smoke or body odor.
Here’s some guides to get you started:
- Put This On: A Guide to eBay Shopping for Men’s Clothing
- This Fits: eBay Searches for Super-Mega-Excellent & Extremely Excellent Suits
Etsy: This is one of the most under-used areas for online shopping, but it can be a pain in the ass as well. The search functions are pretty rudimentary and there aren’t many filters available. Still, you can search for key terms, filter by gender (i.e. men’s clothing), and sort by “most recent.” If you find a good seller, bookmark the store.
StyleForum B&S: This is where most of the good stuff is, but you need to watch it like a hawk and not hesitate when you see something you want. The downside to this forum is that you’ll probably pay higher prices than thrift stores or online resellers, as people know what things are worth. The seller’s feedback system is also very new, though I’ve never had any issues. The upside is that there aren’t any bidding games.
Again, I just tend to sort by recently updated items to see the latest stuff and then go backward in time. You can filter by item type, but I find that sometimes it’ll miss listings (whether that’s the fault of the poster or the new system, who knows).
The one real upside to SF/B&S is that you get a lot of high-quality items at below retail prices on there with great frequency. I just got in the mail a Drake’s of London navy pindot tie for $45. Good luck trying to find that anywhere else. If you have a moderate amount of money but limited time, I’d invest your attention here.
(This post is part three in a series of five. Read other Ramen Noodle Budget posts here. Our next post will be on Monday, on the topic of online retail deals for new clothing. Previously: Getting Started.)