This article will deal with buying suits on eBay. This is great for folks on a budget, vintage enthusiasts, or people who simply enjoy the thrill of bargain hunting.

If you’d like to learn more about buying suits online we suggest you read our Guide to Buying Suits Online.

Everything To Know About Buying Suits on eBay

Blue vintage blazer on short man

Clothes bought on eBay will often need alterations

It’s one thing to buy a suit online, but quite another to buy one from an auction website like eBay. You’ll need time and energy to really sift through all of your options, and caveat emptor applies here like nowhere else. Though each seller has return policies by which they must abide, ultimately very few of them are established companies and as such are more difficult to work with if you have an issue.

Still, it’s one of the few online spaces in which it’s possible to score an awesome vintage suit at a reasonable price. Not having to sift through bins at your local consignment shop is an added bonus!

Top 5 Considerations For Buying Suits From eBay

First and foremost, you’ll want to have a good idea as to what your size is. You can either head to a friendly tailor for help with this, or you can check out our article on measurements and do it yourself.

Tailor measuring clients waist

The following are our top five things to consider when you’re buying a suit from eBay. With no further ado, they are:

1. Condition

man in suit smoking cigaretteeBay’s suit section has a standardized system for denoting a garment’s condition. Mostly acronym-based, you’ll see:

  • New with tags (NWT): Brand new merchandise with tags on. Pay particular attention to brand names, as there’s a fair amount of off-brand garbage that’s better suited to costume parties than to everyday wear.
  • New without tags (NWOT): Brand new merchandise with no tags. Same warning for NWT merchandise.
  • New with defects (NWD): Brand new goods that have some small defect or irregularity. This will be noted in the product description, and there should definitely be photos so you can assess whether or not the defect is something you can fix or live with. Note that these items often are not returnable.
  • Pre-owned: Used clothing. This is the prime section for guys who are looking for vintage suits, and you can quickly narrow things down by filtering for your size and preferred brands.
  • Not specified: A bit of a free-for-all, this is another area where you can score some good vintage finds if you’re persistent. However, you should also be careful when buying any item on eBay with the “Not Specified” condition marked.

2. Seller Feedback

This is the “beware” part of “may the buyer beware.” eBay solicits feedback from both buyers and sellers after every transaction is complete, as it helps keep buyers and sellers honest. Yes, sellers will be rating you as a buyer too. Make sure you pay on time and in full!

Before doing business with someone, it’s imperative that you check their feedback. There are tons of eBay sellers whose positive feedback rating is very close to 100% with hundreds of instances of feedback. These are the people you should deal with.

If you see an item you like but the seller’s feedback is less than excellent, seriously consider living without the item.

3. Return Policy

Blue velvet blazer on carpet

Some items are returnable, and some aren’t (NWD items often fall into the latter category). This should be common sense, but know what the seller’s return policy is before you buy. He or she might make an exception if you want to return something that isn’t returnable, but then the seller will have good reason to give you negative buyer feedback.

4. Measurements

shears and measuring tapeKnowing your measurements is probably the most important aspect of shopping for suits on eBay. Some measurements will be the same that you’ll find at a tailor while others will be more eBay/vintage specific that correspond to tailor measurements. However, these aren’t quite the same thing.

Some common measurements to be aware of when purchasing a suit on eBay are the following:

  • Chest (armpit seam to armpit seam): Measurement across front of jacket at widest part of chest
  • Waist: Width of jacket at its narrowest point, usually across top button of two-button jacket
  • Sleeve length: Outseam, not inseam
  • Shoulder seam to shoulder seam (close to “point-to-point” in custom tailoring): Distance across back of jacket
  • Total length: Length of jacket measured from base of collar (also referred to as jacket’s “center back”)
  • Vest Point-To-Point: Width of vest across the back over where shoulder blades would be
  • Vest Length: Length of vest front from shoulder seam to hem
  • Trouser Waist: Trouser’s waist measurement. A number inside the parentheses (such as 2.25″) indicates the amount of material able to be let out
  • Inseam: Trouser length from fork in crotch to hem. Number inside parentheses indicates the amount of extra material in the hem to let out.
  • Rise: Distance from fork in crotch to top of the waistband. Most traditional suit trousers have about a 9″ rise. Taller men (or men who prefer pants that sit higher on the waist) will want a longer rise, shorter men will want a shorter rise.
  • Thigh: Most eBay sellers will measure this as the widest point of the trouser thigh, but only on one side. The trouser’s true thigh measurement would be double what is indicated.

For example, if an eBay seller says a trouser’s thigh is 10.5″, the true measurement would be 21″. This is because 10.5″ is the width of only one of the trouser leg’s two panels.

  • Leg opening: Similar to the thigh measurement, just at the pant hem.

5. Brand

Polo Ralph Lauren LabelThough we aren’t beholden to any brands in particular, it’s good to have at least some brand name recognition when you’re shopping on eBay. This is good for a couple of reasons:

  1. It helps you identify truly rare, hard-to-find, or otherwise special clothing. Some brands and most high-end menswear shops have long been out of business, but their products live on in the vintage ecosystem. Knowing who they are will clue you in to the rarity of the item, letting you know how quickly you need to act to own it.
  2. It disqualifies off-brand merchandise. Not everything has to be a brand name to be good, but you can bet your bottom dollar that if it’s not a brand name, inexpensive, and new, it’s likely low-quality and ultimately a waste of money.

Bidding Versus Buying

Being an auction website, you can bid on items up for sale. If your bid is the highest when time runs out then you “win” the garment and are responsible for paying the seller.

Another way to go is to treat the site more like simple online shopping and use the “Buy It Now” button. You have no control over the price of the item, but if you love something, you can at least ensure that you become its rightful owner.

Some “Buy It Now” items have a “Best Offer” option which allows you to submit an offer to the seller. If the seller is happy with your offer then he or she can accept the offer.

Furthermore, some sellers may even have both an auction and a “buy it now” option available for on item. While the “buy it now” option will guarantee an instant purchase, you may lose out on a good deal. It’s up to you to judge whether you want to risk pursuing the option or purchase the item immediately.

If the auction is relatively inactive, there’s a high chance that you’ll not have any issues. However, somebody else may sweep in a snatch it away at any time.

Finally, try to avoid bidding wars by entering yours relatively late in the game. Bidding early may encourage others to bid too, which can cause the price to increase very quickly.

Parting Thoughts

man shopping onlineeBay can be an incredible resource. If you’re into vintage clothing or are a difficult-to-find size (eBay has plenty of small sizes that will fit even the tiniest of body types) then the site is a great place to come across some good finds on the relative cheap.

If you like the experience of going into a store, check out your local vintage shops, and see our guide to how to buy vintage suits.