How to Buy a Used Dress

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How to Buy a Used Dress

Almost every woman loves to slip on a dress. With their feminine silhouettes, dresses bring everything from style to comfort to glamour into women's lives. More and more women who want to expand their wardrobes are turning to used dresses as an alternative to new dresses. While traditional resale vendors used to be the only option for finding used clothing, the online marketplace today, as exemplified by eBay, offers women a wide range of quality, stylish, secondhand dresses.

Before beginning the process of finding these used pieces, women may wish to learn a few tips about shopping for used clothing. Considerations such as finding the right size and vetting the quality of a dress all factor into this process. Women may also want to familiarise themselves with some of the most popular styles available today in used dresses so that they can approach the marketplace in the most informed way possible.

Popular Dress Silhouettes and Styles

There are a wide range of silhouettes and styles that are popular in women's dresses. Knowing these styles can help consumers streamline their shopping experiences and allows them to focus on the right dresses earlier in the process.

The A-Line Dress

The A-line dress has a fitted or semi-fitted waist from which the skirt of the dress descends out and down in a straight line, creating the outline of an 'A'. These dresses are comfortable and can work with a range of body types.

The Empire Waist Dress

On an empire waist dress, the waistline sits just below the bustline. The skirt of the dress extends down from this high point, creating a flowing look and comfortable style. Empire waist dresses are available in casual, daytime styles or in dressier varieties for evening events.

The Wrap Dress

The wrap dress is a really universal piece that works well in a variety of settings and also works well on a range of body types. These dresses are often made in jersey and have a drape wrap across the natural waistline. This creates a flattering and feminine effect that defines the waist to create an hourglass shape on even the straightest figure.

The Tunic Dress

The tunic dress has a wide cut and loose flow to it. In many instances, a tunic dress can look like a shirt or jumper that has been turned into a dress. Tunic dresses are popular for the high degree of comfort they provide. They are also versatile pieces that wear well during the day or when worn at night dressed up with accessories.

The Cocktail Dress

Cocktail dresses come in a range of silhouettes and are distinguished from other dresses by their materials and detailing. These dresses are more formal and work well for evening events or at clubs. They are often made in finer fabrics, such as chiffon or silk, and often feature more ornate detailing with sequins and other decorative items.

The Formal Dress

The formal dress is similar to the cocktail dress in its use of quality fabrics and detailing, but it is usually worn at more formal events, such as weddings, dances, and award ceremonies. Formal dresses incorporate a range of lengths and silhouettes. Popular materials include satins, chiffons, and laces.

The Maxi Dress

The maxi dress is a voluminous dress that has a very long and wide skirt. This skirt can descend from a halter top, an empire waist, or a drop waist. A maxi is typically a more casual daytime dress and is often made of cotton jersey that features dynamic prints and colours.

Selecting a Sleeve and Shoulder Style

In addition to the different silhouettes available today, there is also a range of shoulder and sleeve styles that women can enjoy in dresses. These range from the revealing and adventurous to the modest and refined.

Sleeve/Shoulder Type


Dolman Sleeve

Wide, drape sleeve

Tapers to a fitted wrist


Wide rounded collar

Sits on one shoulder and drapes off the other

Halter Top


Ties or loops behind the neck

Cap Sleeve

Short, round sleeve

Often features a pouf or gather

3/4 Sleeve

Fitted slender sleeve

Ends at the middle of the forearm

One Shoulder

One strap neckline

Other shoulder is left bare

Kimono Sleeve

Wide, medium-length sleeve

Often paired with a wrap style on body of dress


No sleeves or support straps

Can have a straight or heart-shaped bustline

Sometimes fitted with support bra

Consumers should not hesitate to purchase more revealing dresses in colder months. Pairing a strapless dress with a shrug or cardigan is a perfectly viable way to leverage a warm weather dress in the fall or winter. Likewise, many sleeved options, such as dolman sleeve or kimono sleeve dresses, can still work in the summer, thanks to their loose fit and light materials.

Guaranteeing the Condition of a Used Dress

One of the biggest concerns for women when shopping for used dresses is finding items that are in great shape. There are a number of techniques that consumers can use to guarantee that they find dresses that are in like-new condition.

Shop Online

While some traditional brick-and-mortar resale shops may have a selection of used dresses, online aggregators often offer a larger quantity with better overall quality. With offline vendors, there is no way for a woman to trace the history of a dress. Online sellers are often private sellers who have been the sole owner of an item. The online marketplace has become a popular destination for women looking to recycle their fashions in preparation for a wardrobe retrofit.

Communicate with Sellers

When shopping online for used dresses, women should take the opportunity to communicate with sellers to find out the condition of various dresses. They can also ask about the history of a dress, including where it was originally purchased, where it was worn and for how long, and more. Sellers often share photos of items online. If a consumer wants to see more images of a dress to confirm its condition, additional photos can be requested. A reliable seller should always be willing to share more photos to allow consumers to confirm the quality of used dresses.

Finding the Right Size in a Used Dress

It is, of course, important that women find the right sizes when shopping for dresses. The following table outlines a general standard of measurement for each of the most common Australian sizes in women's clothing.








Bust (cm)







Waist (cm)







Hips (cm)







Consumers should keep in mind that sizes can vary from brand to brand and that different silhouettes may be more demanding in terms of sizing. The above is just a general reference that consumers can use to guide the process. Active communication with a seller is the best way to confirm a dress' size and suitability.

Buying Used Dresses on eBay

The online aggregator eBay has quickly become one of the most popular resources for women who want to sell and buy used fashions. This has created a very large catalogue of options, especially when it comes to used dresses. To begin your search, find the search bar on any page on the site. Enter a keyword term that describes the silhouette or type of dress you want to find. eBay may give you search suggestions that allow you to limit your search to used items, or you can use the word 'used' in your search. Further, you can search dress deals thanks to eBay's large inventory of apparel.

Communicating with Sellers on eBay

This site also makes it easy for you to reach out to a seller with any questions you may have about an item. If you are viewing a listing and think it could be a great choice for you, click on the seller's highlighted name. This takes you to the seller's page, where you can find a message button and feedback submitted from other customers. Do not forget to look through any past listings the seller has posted to get an idea of the seller's experience with clothing.


Buying used dresses is a great way for women to expand their wardrobes with everything from stylish club numbers to formal tea dresses. Many women today look to recycle their fashions every season to make way for new additions, and this gives women interested in used dresses a wide array of options on the secondary market. Whether they are looking for casual maxi dresses to wear at the beach or top-of-the-line designer dresses to wear to evening events, women can find a diverse and exciting number of options.

Dresses in the latest styles to classic cocktail dresses are available, especially on aggregator sites such as eBay. Women navigating this marketplace can familiarise themselves with the latest styles and also take advantage of a few key tips when shopping for used dresses. Used dresses can also be found in local resale clothing shops.

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