As a formal wear professional with a retail store for over 29 years, as well as my ebay store, I want to give you guidelines for purchasing your special gown on ebay.
First, always remember to know your measurements. Not your bra size, not your jeans size, but your ACTUAL bust, waist and hip in inches. Have your measurements taken by someone who knows how to work a tape measure. Don't guess, and DON'T measure yourself! (think it's funny? it is all too common, and makes for wrong measurements.)
Good listings will give you the bust, waist and hip measurements of the gown. Your measurements should be within one inch of those listed, preferrably the same or smaller than those listed. Taking in a gown to fit is far easier than letting it out. Sometimes there is no fabric to even let out! If you are unsure, show the picture to your seamstress, or even ask the seller to check the seam allowance for availablity.
Second, DON'T use the size as truth. Some size 10's for example can differ by as many as 3 inches from company to company. Use the actual measurements in the listing.
Good listings will also tell you about the gown. Reputable sellers will state the facts. "Store Sample" means it has hung on a rack and been tried on. Good sellers will rate its condition. "NWT" can still mean store sample, as it has not been worn for any length of time per say. Watch out for just "NEW" as it could mean new to them, but worn by someone else, or newly bought from a store or who knows! I have even seen gowns listed as "NWOT", and when I asked, she said she only wore it a few hours and that's NEW to her! I've seen gowns after a few hours and some would be ready for the dust bin!
Be wary of home sellers. Smells and hygeine differ significantly throughout the world. Smoke-free and pet-free just isn't enough to guarantee the condition/smell of the garment. Retail environments are usually better for smells and overall impact on the fabrics.
Be wary of China direct sellers. they are often stealing copyrighted photos and claiming your gown will "look just like it" for hundreds or thousands less than the real thing. DONT BE FOOLED and DONT accept a cheap imitation. This is an important gown in your life!
Finally, ASK QUESTIONS before you bid. Sellers want you to make an informed decision. Don't hastely hit the buy button and then have regrets.
Remember, it is just a gown...you've made the hard decision...you picked HIM!!
Linda owner "wisconsinmom78" ebay store "Wisconsinmom Formalwear PLUS"