If you follow me even remotely, either here on Fashionista or on my various social media channels, you know that I'm, well, kind of obsessed with Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester). It's a (one-sided) love affair that started back when "Gossip Girl" premiered in 2007; I was in college and too broke to stock up on the high fashion labels Blair regularly wore, but still picked up every headband my local Forever21 carried. A decade later, that obsession hadn't calmed down at all, and after a celebratory rewatch inspired me to start a hashtag series dedicated to her style on Instagram (it's #WaldorfWednesday!), I found myself diving deep into eBay trying to get my hands on pieces from the show I've never stopped thinking about.
It turns out I wasn't alone in that quest. Kimberly*, another longtime fan of "Gossip Girl," maintained a blog dedicated to the style on the show while it was on the air. For the 10th anniversary in 2017, she made a few BuzzFeed listicles calling out pieces from the show that she'd found on eBay, which changed everything for her. "I got a really enthusiastic reaction on social media and I started finding more and more stuff," she says. 'I was like, 'Oh, I wonder if I could sell a few things?' and it just sort of grew from there."
Kimberly, who goes by the username gapgirl259 on eBay, started by purchasing (and subsequently selling) items worn by Blair; after a few successful sales, she started selling stuff seen on Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively), which became equally popular, and Jenny Humphrey (Taylor Momsen, and "not as in demand" — sorry Little J). She's occasionally stocked pieces from other minor characters like Lily van der Woodsen Bass Humphrey (Kelly Rutherford, and sorry for the multiple marriage shade!), but ultimately, it's the main two players that drive the most sales for Kimberley.
While S and B might rule the steps of the Met, they aren't the only characters inspiring costume hunts on eBay. Brianna Wood, who sells on eBay under bunnis_boutique, carries clothing seen on shows like "The Vampire Diaries," "Nashville," and "Pretty Little Liars." Like Kimberly, Wood has a particular nostalgia for the personalities and costumes on these shows. She had seen her mom make a decent living selling on eBay growing up, and thought it would be fun to do the same.
"I remember watching my favorite movies and TV shows thinking how amazing it would be to actually own and incorporate pieces that the characters wear into everyday styles. And what better way to show off your favorite character than to dress like them?" Wood says over email. "I wanted to make that readily available to others who shared the same passion."
Looking for shows that go further back than the late-aughts? You'll want to check out Katherine Garay's eBay shop, cinema_spells, which carries clothing from all of the shows listed, plus programs like "Gilmore Girls" and, on the rare occasion, "Friends." And Garay doesn't limit herself to television, carrying pieces once seen in movies like the "Fifty Shades" series. (Shocker: Dakota Johnson's Anastasia Steele does very well.) Like Kimberly and Wood, Garay gets a lot of requests from those who follow her shop, often for the shows' most popular characters.
"Jennifer Aniston [Rachel Green], particularly, she's also very popular; I have one buyer, specifically, that asks if I'm doing more Jennifer Aniston outfits," Garay says. "But 'Friends' is very hard because a lot of the items are vintage."
Which brings us to the more challenging part of the job: Finding the items seen on TV shows that haven't been on air for years. Garay says that, thanks to her photographic memory, she stumbled into the resale market by accident after discovering a polka-dotted cardigan on Poshmark she remember seeing on Rory Gilmore (Alexis Bledel). Now, she says, she spends her extra time — think lunch breaks or late night hours spent watching TV — scrolling through eBay and other resale sites, grabbing things she remembers seeing on screen. Wood credits visits to her local Plato's Closet.
"Most of the time it's based on luck of finding the right piece," she says. "The pieces I don't wear/am ready to sell get posted up."
In addition to regularly falling down the eBay rabbit hole, Kimberly is more precise, saving searches on sites like The RealReal. She also keeps open request threads on Poshmark where she can track what pieces her customers are searching for. "I'd say I sell about half of my stuff to the same couple of people over and over again, which is why the social aspect of Poshmark is good," she explains. "On Poshmark, people will be like, 'Oh, I'm mad I missed this, can you find it in X size?' Obviously I don't have a magic wand, but I love that. It's so much fun when I get to find something for someone that they've been looking for, because that's how I am with my shopping also."
Then there's the question of pricing. Picking up clothes secondhand can be cheap, but wading into the labels worn on shows like "Gossip Girl" can be quite expensive, and resellers are always taking a risk that they'll buy something that won't sell. Because she buys everything on a credit card, Kimberly has set a limit on the amount of stock she'll carry at one time; she also knows that her average sale is $70, so she's wary of spending more than $100 on any single item. Garay went to business school, so she's become savvier about her pricing, doing her research to get comparison prices for specific items and characters. Wood sets her prices based on what she paid, plus the rarity of the item itself.
Rarity is, of course, a big factor in how items sell. Getting "close enough" won't help the sale, either. Items which are the same style but a different color, or the same pattern but in a different shape, will command a much lower price — or may not even sell at all. To bring things back to Blair (and trust me, I am always bringing things back to Blair), many of her clothes are amongst the most in-demand and highest-fetching pieces across any fandom. Kimberly's biggest sale was a Philippe Adec blazer, worn in the lead image of this story, which went for $379; Garay's biggest sale was a Marc by Marc Jacobs mint green "Mia" dress worn by Blair for her infamous strip tease at Victrola, which fetched about $450.
(In fact, Blair's Marc by Marc Jacobs dresses are the rarest and most sought-after pieces from "Gossip Girl," with the brown Dita dress worn in season one's Thanksgiving episode and the scalloped Joelle dress from season two's Hampton's White Party also proving to be as elusive as they are iconic. Just saying, maybe it's time to revive the label.)
If you're getting ready to quit your job and scroll eBay full time, know that flipping secondhand clothes may not be a lucrative field — at least, not yet. Wood keeps up with her shop to build up savings; she's in school to become a registered nurse, but also, she says, she always wants to be able to provide for her brother, who was diagnosed with severe autism. While she's been able to do that, money hasn't been the primary reward. "In the beginning I believed it would be all business, but many of my customers have also become close friends of mine," she says. "It's also really changed me as person and has helped me learn more responsibility and what it means to run your own shop."
Kimberly was using the money she made through her sales to help cover vet bills when her cat fell ill; now she's saving up for vacation. Even if she isn't raking in major money, though, she's definitely inspired a cottage industry. When I first began searching for Blair Waldorf on eBay, Kimberly was the only seller in the game. Now, several more have popped up across eBay and Poshmark, some of which clearly don't mind footing the bill for a Herve Leger dress or a Tory Burch trenchcoat.
Her shop is still a side gig for Garay, but she's hoping to turn cinema_spells into a full time job. She maintains an Instagram where she keeps followers updated on her latest listings, and has moved to offer free shipping on all her orders. In fact, her dream is to one day have an office where she can go to officially spend her 9-to-5 hours searching eBay and shipping out flipped clothes.
"I'm really hoping to grow and make it because I really love what I do," Garay says. "It's like my job involves watching TV and watching movies — what's better than that?"
Homepage photo: Courtesy Warner Brothers
*Requested her last name not be used.