How to Photograph Large Clothing on a Small Dress Form

(This post contains affiliate links. I’ll get a few pennies if you purchase anything through those links, but you won’t pay anything more than you would otherwise.)

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When I first started selling thrift store clothing on eBay, I would simply use a hanger on a hook on my wall when photographing. I knew that one of the first big investments I wanted to make was a dress form, but when the time finally came to make that purchase, I was stuck on one question–what size should I buy? I sell all different sizes of clothing, but I didn’t have the money or space to buy and store multiple dress forms. The whole point of having a dress form is to make the clothing look spectacular, but if most of my clothing wasn’t going to fit the one form that I bought–what’s the point?

Here’s what I did–I bought a size small (2/4) dress form, and I use clips to pin back clothing that’s larger than that. (Anything too small gets photographed laying flat on my clean floor, as does most plus-sized clothing.) Read below for a quick tutorial on pinning back larger clothing!

photoing large clothing

You’ll need:

Step 1: Place the garment on the dress form and turn it around so that you’re looking at the back. Adjust the shoulder seams so that they’re in line with the dress form’s shoulders, and pinch the excess fabric in between the shoulders in one hand. With your other hand, clip on one clip.

DSC09202

Step 2: Take the excess fabric just below your first clip in one hand, and run your hand down to the back of the waist area. Place your second clip there.DSC09203DSC09204

Step three: Turn your dress form around to the front and make any adjustments necessary. You will likely be able to photograph your item from the front and the side without seeing the clips in your pictures.DSC09205 DSC09206

Step four: To photograph the back, I usually don’t even need to use the clips. I can just pull excess fabric to the front of the dress form, and the back looks just fine.DSC09208

Keep in mind that it’s important to maintain the shape of the garment when pinning it. By that I mean, if a shirt is blousey, don’t pin it super close to the dress form. You can imagine a buyer being rightly upset if they thought a shirt was going to be very fitted (as pictured in a listing) but once it arrives, they find it to be a very loose fit. Also, I mentioned earlier that I often need to photo my plus-sized items on the floor. I do that when I feel that I won’t be able to maintain the garment’s true shape on my size small form, even with the clips.

That’s it! Easy peasy, right? I’ve found this to be a simple solution that lets me photograph the majority of my clothes on just one dress form. I hope it helps you all in your ebaying, too!

Knowing the Name of Clothing to Flip — The Why and How

Many retailers–especially women’s clothing retailers–give each style of garment a particular, descriptive name. It’s not just a blue dress from Lilly Pulitzer; it’s the Cathy Shift Dress in Skye Blue Blue Heaven. It’s not just a white shirt from Madewell; it’s the Arrowstitch Peasant Top.

Knowing the proper name of a garment you’ve thrifted and are hoping to flip on eBay is very valuable. While some buyers just browse a category of clothing or search for a general term (like “blue Lilly Pulitzer dress”), there are others who are looking for a specific item of clothing that they’re dying to have. Maybe it was her favorite dress that she took on vacation, but the airline lost it with the rest of her luggage, and now she’ll pay top dollar to get another one. (This is where you come in!)

Obviously, no one knows the name of every garment, from every retailer, from all seasons present and past. However, you can use the magic of the internet to discover this important information about a piece of clothing you’re trying to flip. Here’s how:

How to Find the Name of a Piece of

How to Find the Name of a Piece of Clothing You’re Selling on Ebay

Do a google image search (link here, if you need it) with the brand name of the clothing you’re working with (and its in-house label if it’s a brand like Anthropologie or Urban Outfitters that uses those) and any descriptive words that you can derive from it. (Leave out size here, as it won’t help.)

For example, for this shirt:

clothing name 1

I used the phrase “anthropologie meadow rue top purple wooden beads”. (Meadow Rue is the name of the in-house label name that was on the tag.)

Once I searched the phrase, I saw these results:

clothing name 3

You can see that the shirt came up in both the top and bottom rows.

Next, click on the picture that matches your item to see if it gives you more information. Clicking on the first result didn’t give me the information that I was looking for, but clicking on the one in the bottom row (third from left) did:

clothing name 5

(That’s super small, I know! You can click the picture to make it larger.)

Highlighted in the pink box is the name of this particular shirt that I thrifted: the Avellana Tank.

Once I’m pretty sure that I’ve found the name that I’m looking for, I’ll do a Google search (just a web search, not an image search) of the brand + the name that I found. If the name is correct, one of the top results will usually be the product page of the item on the store’s website. (If it’s from a past season, it’ll just say that it’s sold out, but the product page is still usually there.) Googling “Anthropologie Avellana Tank” confirmed that I found the right name:

clothing name 6

Equipped with this information, I can now write a stellar listing title and get it up on eBay. (Ironically, I didn’t know–and wasn’t able to find out–the name of the dress in the old post I just linked to. Can’t win ’em all!) If you know the name of the item you’re listing, make sure to include it in your title and in the description. If someone is looking for that particular item, you want to be the first result in their search!

And, a couple notes: not all retailers give their clothing names like this. From my experience, many mid- to high-end retailers do (think: Anthropologie, Kate Spade, Lilly Pulitzer, etc), but not all. (Eileen Fisher and Tory Burch don’t.) Also, as you can probably guess, it takes a few minutes to go through this whole process. If the item is lower value, like a very basic tank top that probably won’t fetch top dollar (even if it’s from a high-end retailer) the search might not be worth your time.

I hope this post was helpful! Let me know if you’d like for me to clarify anything above!

How To Be Awesome When A Package Goes Missing

It’s every eBay seller’s worst nightmare: after carefully packing up your sweet thrift find that sold for big bucks and sending it on its way to your buyer, it inexplicably goes missing. Your buyer is not happy and contacts you wanting to know where their stuff is. This happened to me a couple weeks ago for the first time, and it wasn’t a pleasant predicament to have on my hands.

However, once you’re in that situation you have two choices–makes things better, or make them worse. You can make things worse by ignoring your buyer and hoping the situation will magically resolve itself. (Hint: It probably won’t.) If you choose that route, you’re setting yourself up for defects and negative feedback. I don’t suggest doing that.

Here’s what I would do instead:

How To Be Awesome (1)

Step One: Call Your Local Post Office

Call the post office that initially received your package. Sometimes, they have more information than you can see online. For example, when I was waiting on something that I had purchased on eBay to arrive at my house, the tracking information said that it had been delivered when it actually hadn’t. I called the post office, and they were able to tell me that the seller had actually printed out two of the same labels and attached them to two separate packages. I’m assuming this was an honest mistake on the seller’s part, but the post office wasn’t happy about someone mailing two packages for the price of one. (Go figure.) Anyway, the moral of the story is that sometimes the postmaster knows what’s going on when you’re still clueless. It never hurts to ask. (And, as always, make sure you’re super polite on the phone with whomever you speak. That definitely never hurts–and usually helps quite a bit.)

Step Two: Contact Your Buyer

Use eBay’s messaging system to respond to your buyer. Open your message with an apology for the fact that there has been a problem with their order. If the post office was able to tell you anything from Step One, relay that information to your buyer. If not, still let them know that you did contact the post office and that you will continue monitoring the situation for new information. This shows your buyer that you do actually give a flip about the package and should help smooth over any upset feelings they may have. Ask the seller if it’s okay to wait ___ number of days to see if the package gets scanned again, and that if that doesn’t happen, you will refund their money. (The number of days is up to you and your buyer. My buyer agreed to wait one week past the expected delivery date.)

Step Three: Keep Checking For Tracking Updates

You’ll want to keep an eye on the tracking information at this point. The easiest way to do this is to sign up for email updates on the carrier’s website. Here’s how to do it with USPS: Do a Google Search for the tracking number. The first result should be from USPS’s website. Click on that link and you’ll see the page below:

tracking email updatesClick on “Email Updates” (where the pink arrow is pointing) and you’ll be able to sign up for email updates whenever the package is scanned. That way, you don’t have to manually check for updates!

Step Four: (If It Never Arrives) Refund

If the pre-determined date arrives and the package is still MIA, it’s time to refund your buyer. This part is not fun. However, if the package was insured, you should be able to recoup your money. Mine was not insured since it was a pretty low-value item ($20 + $8 shipping to Canada), but it’s still never a pleasant experience to flat out lose money. That being said, you are taking action to keep your buyer happy and hopefully to prevent negative feedback. That’s worth something.

Step Five: Get Your Fees Back

Call eBay and let them know what happened and that you refunded your buyer. They will be able to credit your account within a few days.

Step Six: File An Insurance Claim (If Your Package Is Insured)

Anytime I’m mailing out an item, I ask myself “Would it ruin my day if this package were to be lost?” If the answer is yes, I insure it. (I usually insure anything over $50.) Priority mail is automatically insured over $50, but you may need to add additional insurance. I use Inkfrog/Shipsaver insurance. It’s available under the “Applications” tab on My eBay. I’ve never actually had to file a claim, so I can’t speak from personal experience of the claims process, but you can do some Googling and read reviews to decide which kind of insurance you’d like to buy.


If you sell on eBay for a long time, you’ll almost certainly find yourself in this situation at least once. Do your best to stay positive and keep things in perspective. Focus on providing great customer service and move on once the situation is resolved. Onward and upward!

Tips For Faster Photography

Any time I start a blog post after a longer-than-planned absence, I want to start it with “Hey… I’m just super busy, not dead.” And then I automatically think of this scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail:

“I’m not dead yet! I feel… happyyyy!” Ha! It gets me every time.

Anyway the thing that has been keeping me very busy (but not dead!) is that I’ve been photographing clothing for a local consignment shop’s eBay store, like I mentioned in a previous post. I’ve photographed close to an extra 300 items in the last month, in addition to the ones I’ve taken for my own eBay store. It’s been a really great side gig, but it has taken up a good bit of free time. I’ve got about a month and a half more work to do for them, so once that’s over, I should be posting more regularly again.

That being said, having to photograph so many items each week has forced me to become a more efficient photographer. Below are a few tips I have for anyone trying to shorten the amount of time it takes to photograph clothing for eBay.

photo set up edited

  1. Prep all of your items before you start taking pictures.

    When I only had a few items to list, my flow would usually go something like this: steam item A, photograph item A, steam item B, photograph item B, etc. That just doesn’t work well when you’ve got a pile of 80 garments glaring at you from the corner of your room. Even though it’s kind of tedious to steam all of my items at one time, it really makes the whole process go faster.

  2. Sort clothing into like piles before you start.

    I’m not sure why, but photographing all the tops, then all the skirts, then all the dresses, then all the coats, then all the pants, is faster than photographing a jumbled stack of clothes. (Really, the order in which you photograph each category isn’t important, just that you’re doing all of one category before moving on to all of another category.)

  3. Set up in a way that minimizes walking around.

    When I’m photographing, I keep the clothing that’s waiting to be done within arm’s reach, so that the process of grabbing a garment, dressing my mannequin, and taking pictures doesn’t require me to move much. Prior to starting this side gig, I kept my stack of clothing across the room (next to my steamer) but the simple act of moving the pile has really cut down on the time it takes to get the job done.


What are your tips for photographing more efficiently? I’d love to hear them!

 

Should I Get A Store?

How eBay's fee illustrator can help you decide whether or not to get a store.

The question of whether or not to get a store was one that I wrestled with for a long time. If you’re only selling a small volume of items each month, the monthly subscription fee of $19.95 (or $15.95 if you commit to a year) can look a little daunting. However, sellers with basic-level stores do get 150 free listings (auction-style or fixed price) each month, so they save the insertion fee on all those items. It can be difficult to figure out when the savings on insertion fees outweighs the monthly subscription fee.

Luckily, Ebay has a great little tool that a lot of people don’t know about–the Fee Illustrator:

fee illustrator

On this page, you can type in various pieces of information (how many items do you list each month, what’s your average selling price, etc) and it will give you a recommendation of whether or not to get a store, and if so, which subscription level is right for you.

Here’s an example with some random sales data:

fee illustrator selection

So, in the example above, the fee illustrator recommends a basic-level store for a seller who creates 100 fixed price listings a month (50 of them being eligible for Top Rated Seller discount), sells 50 items a month (with an average selling price of $25) and an average shipping cost of $5. (You can estimate your information if you don’t know exact amounts.) A basic-level store would save this seller $22.55 a month over selling without a store.

If you’ve been struggling with the decision to make the leap into getting a store, I hope this tool will help you!