As the contents of my wardrobe and book shelves will attest, I have something of a love affair with charity shops. The hunt for a bargain and the thrill of discovering buried treasure amongst the tat is hard to beat although since the explosion in ‘vintage’ fashion emporiums, unless you’re prepared to trek to some far flung towns (I’ve always found Yorkshire east coast seaside towns the best) it’s become difficult to regularly strike gold. Plus, if you’re looking for something specific then charity shops aren’t always the best route (or generally open at 3am in the morning when you decide after a few drinks that you simply *must* own cocktail glasses covered in pink flamingos for example. Drunk eBay purchases are probably a whole different post actually…). Thankfully, since 1995 (which means it turns 18 this year) eBay has been filling all your drunk/ difficult to find purchasing needs!
Although I will confess to not being a hardcore eBayer (I really should start selling as well as buying on it but I find things hard to part with on the basis that I might suddenly need one of the million vintage scarfs/ bags/ necklaces I’ve amassed over the years) I have found myself using it more and more now that the thrill of charity shop treasure is a mere distant memory. So, as a way to celebrate its 18th birthday I thought I’d share some of my favourite finds.
eBay Treasure Exhibit A – The One That Got Away:
We’ve all been there – you see something in a magazine and try to track it down but it either sells out before you can find it or when you do, it’s out of your meagre student budget. This is the story of this dress. I saw, I hunted, I failed. Or I almost failed. Because, dear reader, I not only found it but I found it IN MY SIZE and IN THE SALE. But of course that would be too easy and for some unknown reason (possibly panicked madness as it was nearly closing time) I DIDN’T BUY MY DREAM DRESS – the dress that I then spent 8 years trying to track down. 8 years of trawling charity shops, stalking ebay and buying dresses like this which although lovely still isn’t *the* dress. Whilst some people use ebay to find the most amazing vintage pieces (I just never seem to have the luck with ebay and vintage – where are all these 50p chiffon treasures which people eulogise about?!?), I use it to stalk my lost loves. So after 8 years and pretty much giving up I finally found it last week. For £2!!! And it looks as fantastic as I remember it looking and fits so well I may actually have done a little dance when I tried it on (I always have eBay fear when buying clothes I can’t return which is probably why I tend to just buy brands I tend to know my size in. I’m not sure I could take the emotional distress of finding something amazing and it not fitting…). It just proves that occasionally patience pays off and that if you see something, love it and can afford it, buy it!
eBay Treasure Exhibit B – The Cheer Yourself Up Purchase
I’ve a bit of a love for owls. I’m not sure when it became my ‘thing’ but before the mass of woodland creatures found their way on to clothing last A/W thanks to Burberry Prorsum I had a lot of owls, including the delightful little Lea Stein brooch above. This is a classic eBay ‘stumble across’ purchase (I was probably searching for ‘Owl Brooches’ trying to track down a Topshop copy of this which I didn’t realise was a copy at the time) and was bought as a way of cheering myself up after narrowly missing out on getting a job I really wanted. With hindsight I’ve probably had more joy from the brooch than I would have had from the job!
eBay Treasure Exhibit C – The Nostalgia Purchase
Thanks to a Scottish mother and a granny called Maisie, I grew up reading Aileen Paterson’s ‘Maisie’ books about a feisty Edinburgh-based Scottish kitten (obviously). The illustrations (also done by Aileen) of Maisie and her adventures were beautifully drawn and whilst searching for some copies of my childhood favourites for my best friend’s little daughter, I found this sweet little brooch of one of the characters from the books for sale. Handmade by Aileen herself and dating back to the 1970s it’s a beautiful and nostalgic addition to my wardrobe which reminds me of happy childhood days.
ebay Treasure Exhibit D – The Oh God That’s Rather A Lot Of Money But They’re My Dream Shoes Purchase
Most of my eBay purchases and bids are for small amounts but for these Miu Miu Deco Patent platform heels I slightly broke the bank (but they were considerably less than they’d originally retailed for). From their AW07 collection, I’d lusted after them for years but couldn’t afford then on my student budget. Once I had a proper job and slightly more money for lust purchases I began hunting for them in earnest. I finally tracked down a pair to an ebay seller in the US and after a lot of research to check they were genuine I took the plunge and purchased. Up until that point they were not only the most I’d ever spent on eBay but also the most I’d ever spent on shoes so I was a bit nervous but they’re honestly ridiculously comfy to wear (or at least as comfy as heels that high can be – I’m still convinced I’m going to take a tumble and break my ankle one of these days) and once you see and hold them in real life you can understand why they cost so much to begin with as the craftsmanship is amazing. I never understood when people said an item ‘felt’ expensive before I got these and I love, love, love how they make me feel when I wear them!
So that’s a brief history of my eBay purchases over the years but I’m sure there’ll be many more to come! In celebration of their 18th birthday, eBay have been putting together an ‘eBay Stories’ campaign and Sophie Ellie Bextor (owner of possibly the best legs in pop) has put together a video of some of her favourite eBay buys!