10 things I learned about buying pre-owned corsets on eBay

Lacey Lace


Lacey Lace shares her top tips for buying pre-owned corsets on eBay. Sometimes you can land a real bargain. She got a What Katie Did corset worth over £200 for £35!

In a perfect world, my boudoir would have hanging rail after hanging rail loaded with corsets in a dizzying array of styles. In my dream, I would be Belle from Beauty and the Beast, but instead of books, I would own a library of corsets. I can smell the leather, feel the satin and am left dazzled by the sequins.

However, this is not a perfect world. I’ve owned more wonderful corsets than I can count on my fingers, but as I’ve put weight on, been pregnant, given birth and also been ill, I haven’t been able to keep them all. There’ve been the expensive corsets that I couldn’t justify keeping at times when everyday corset-wearing wasn’t suitable. I’ve had cheaper corsets that have not quite been of a satisfactory quality to keep. Some corsets have been just too long for my frame (I am short-bodied) and others haven’t been long enough to hide my post-partum belly (there’s a little trick for that which I can tell you about later). One corset even broke when I was in the middle of lacing myself up on a train!

pre-owned corsets on eBay

So what does a girl do when she can’t afford all the luxury corsets that she covets? One option available these days is to buy a pre-owned corset on eBay. Just to clarify, I don’t necessarily mean a cheaply made “eBay corset” – that is, the type generally manufactured overseas and bought in cheaply by a wholesaler. You can sometimes strike gold and buy good quality branded corsets on eBay for mere pennies.

pre-owned corsets on eBay

I once bought a rare What Katie Did – Pigalle Laurie corset from eBay for £35! It was worth £209 originally but has become quite rare, so its worth has possibly risen for the right buyer. I landed that particular bargain because the seller made a terrible blunder in her listing and listed it as a “What Katy Did” corset. If you ever sell on your own branded corset, you must beware misspelling the brand!

pre-owned corsets on eBay

Speaking from experience, here are ten things I’ve learned about buying a pre-owned corset on eBay:

10 tips for buying pre-owned corsets on eBay

1) Use the eBay app on your phone.

This will save a lot of time and allow you to search, shop and bid without being stuck on the computer. Just make sure you don’t run out of data and are near wifi in the last few minutes of an auction…

2) Create a saved search for your size of corset.

Do this by searching for your size and the word “corset”. Then click “Refine” and “Buying format” and select “Used”. You can then select “Follow” and this search will now be saved.

A note on wording your eBay saved search: Your choice of wording will depend on your patience and whether you mind receiving lots of notifications on your phone. If you don’t mind scrolling through 100-200 search results, simply put “your size” + “corset” eg: “36 corset”, to include all the different sizing keywords sellers might use. Some might use the word “inches” to describe a corset’s size, while others might use the symbol. You don’t want to miss out on a bargain just because a seller has listed the corset in a certain way! In addition, some sellers use keywords such as “tightlacing”, “waist training” and “steel boned” to describe the corset. Then again, some sellers might not use these words at all. To be honest, if you’re desperate for an eBay bargain, my tactical advice for you is to leave out too many keywords. This way you can see a bigger array of offers if you’re willing to dedicate a little time to scrolling!

You may not want to omit certain keywords, though. If you’re looking for a particular corset style, e.g. “velvet” or “mesh” – or indeed a certain brand – then get those keywords in there! (Keep in mind though, that some sellers could, in an awesome twist of fate in your favour, spell the brand incorrectly.)

3) Filter through your results.

Okay, so you now have at least a hundred “corsets” flashing before your eyes. As you scroll, you’ll probably find more than a few disappointments. There’ll be Ann Summers waspies, falsely listed as corsets. There’ll be Topshop bustiers, also disappointingly misrepresented as a corset. You’ll also find corsets for “natural waist XX inches”. This isn’t what you’re looking for either, because – of course – your corset size is for your achievable waist (4-6″ off your natural waist – but more on that later). The point is… spend a little time filtering through the results. Scan for words like “steel boned” and “tightlacing”, but also focus on the pictures. Don’t forget to look at high-end brands as well, such as Vollers, What Katie Did (or WKD), Fairy Gothmother and the like.

4) Assess the condition of the corset: nearly new is best!

Once you’ve found what looks like a great bargain, assess the condition of the corset using both the pictures and the seller’s description. It’s important not to just impulse-buy a corset unless you’re sure it’s in great condition. You need clear pictures. If it’s a high-end branded corset, you’d ideally see a picture of the label. Make sure there’s no puckering on the fabric (for example, a leather corset may develop this type of effect if it has been well-worn).

My top tip for buying a pre-owned corset is to buy a nearly new corset if you can. You are looking for a corset which the seller is describing as barely worn. Over time, corsets mould to your body and become accustomed to your shape. For this reason you don’t want a well-worn, “seasoned” corset that will remember someone else’s body.

5) Don’t be shy of asking the seller questions

Has the corset been around pets or smoke? Is the corset listed by the “achievable waist” size rather than by other confusing measurements? Is it a steel boned waist training corset and how many bones does it have? The more detail the seller has given outright the better, but do ask anything you have a prerequisite for if it isn’t clearly mentioned in the description. It helps to build up a relationship with the seller, to encourage honesty etc. It’s also worth noting that if a non-payment occurs at the end of an auction that you didn’t win, the seller might decide to make you an offer for the corset if you’ve built a good rapport with them.

6) If you want a corset for waist training purposes, you’ll need a corset with a steel busk.

See Mookychick’s Ultimate Guide to Corsetry to find out more about waist training. Don’t be tempted by zipped corsets or the type that fasten with a hook and eye – these aren’t suitable for tightlacing. You’ll also need to assess the type of cord that does the corset up. I would never buy a corset with a ribbon cord, as this would not take a great amount of tightening. You want a thick cotton style cord. If possible, check that the cord end is in good condition as this will show it is nearly new. Buy good quality!

7) Make sure you’re buying from a reputable seller.

They don’t have to be a shop or have eBay statuses such as “top rated”, but do a little check up on their previous feedback, just to ensure that they aren’t likely to cause problems for you. For example, check to see if they communicate well with their buyers and securely package their post.

8) Snipe your corset at the very last minute if possible.

Yes, it’s 2016 and people are still doing that. It’s annoying, but if you don’t do it, someone else will. If you place a higher maximum bid on an auction at an earlier time, someone else is bound to come along and raise the price at the very last minute. Therefore… be that sniper! Plus, it’s fun and you might even get a bit of a buzz out of winning at the last minute.

9) When your corset arrives, assess its condition thoroughly.

You want to make sure that it’s in exactly the same condition as described by the seller. If there are any problems, contact the seller first. eBay should be there for you if the seller is not. You should be covered by Paypal Protection for 180 days. However, it’s by far your best option to open a dispute with the seller when you run into problems as soon as possible.

10) Relace your corset correctly before you try to fit it.

Many eBayers who sell as-new corsets are doing so because they’re not well-seasoned corset wearers themselves. The type of person who sells a nearly-new tightlacing corset on eBay is very often the type of person who didn’t know how to wear it in the first place! So do a little check to make sure it’s laced correctly, to aide you putting it on.

And there you have it, my ten tips for buying a pre-owned corset on eBay. I hope this helps! Good luck sniping!

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