How to shop on Poshmark like a pro—and avoid getting scammed

Poshmark can be a style haven for fashionistas with a modest budget—if you know how to use it.

Credit: Forbes
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Over the past year or so, Poshmark has burgeoned into one of the most popular apps to resell clothing on. Launched back in 2011, this online marketplace allows members to buy and sell unwanted clothing, shoes, and accessories with ease, much in the same vein as eBay. You’ve probably seen their commercials advertised on your TV screen by now, which were nonexistent back when I made my own Poshmark account, in the winter of 2015.

My experience with Poshmark has been a long and fruitful one, but it hasn’t been without any hiccups. It all started when I was a lowly college student looking to make an extra buck by listing an old Levi's jean jacket that had been collecting dust in my closet. Since then, I’ve earned a few grand on Poshmark and also gained about 2,000 followers, both modest amounts compared to some Poshmark sellers I’ve seen with millions of followers, whose owners make it their full time job to perfectly curate their Posh closets and sell dozens of listings per day.

When I first heard of Poshmark, I honestly couldn’t see a single downside to it. Cleaning out my closet and making money for new clothes in one fell swoop? It was like the app was made for me. Not to mention the fact that whatever money I earned, I could use as Poshmark credit to shop all my favorite brands, and find luxury styles at a fraction of the retail cost.

After years of both buying and selling on the app, I’ve learned the ins and outs of shopping on Posh, including the best methods to find trustworthy sellers and high-quality listings. Though selling is a whole different ball game, we’ve covered how to effectively sell clothes and make money on Poshmark too.

What to know before you shop

Poshmark
Credit: Poshmark

If you see something labeled "NWT" on Poshmark, that means the product is brand new with the tags still attached.

Perhaps my sagest advice for shopping on Poshmark is that you should only buy items that you are fully committed to. If you’re unsure if something will fit, worried about the seller’s reliability, or are hesitant for any other reason, then don’t buy it. This is because of the strict return policy that Poshmark enforces, which only allows for returns in the case of defective, damaged, or mislabeled items.

While Poshmark can be a wonderful resource for finding awesome deals on the brands you love, if you’re someone who prefers hassle-free returns or the ability to cancel or change your order, Poshmark is probably not for you. Personally, I’m fairly selective when shopping on Posh because I’ve had to get some of my purchases tailored, which kind of defeats the purpose of saving money using the app. Most of the time I’d rather shop at retailers and pay full price. For more of a safe bet on the site, I recommend sticking to shoes, purses, jewelry, or brands where you know without a doubt what size you are.

Another thing to be wary about is pricing. A common way for popular sellers to make more money on Poshmark is to list a “New with Tags” (commonly abbreviated to NWT) item, and then upcharge the buyer for more than what they bought it for. Strictly speaking, this doesn’t go against Poshmark rules, so it’s important to be as savvy of a shopper as possible before clicking that "Buy Now" button.

A common tactic for sellers with high follower counts is to dupe shoppers into thinking they’re getting an amazing deal, when in fact the item in question is in the sale section on the brand’s site. I always recommend checking retailer’s site first, which is simple enough if you ask the seller for the barcode number or the listing name for the item. If that fails, try googling a description of the item plus the name of the retailer, or use Google Images to track it down.

Using the app to your advantage

Poshmark
Credit: Fortune

Use the "offer" feature to haggle a bit and get a lower price on the item you want.

If you’ve decided you’re willing to take the risk, shopping on Poshmark can be incredibly thrilling. One of my favorite things about it is haggling over prices. Poshmark has a useful tool where you can send an offer to someone instead of buying the item at the listed price. In turn, the seller can either accept, decline, or send a counteroffer. I tend to offer 20 to 30 percent below the listed price, knowing that the seller is likely to counteroffer for a higher amount. Most sellers encourage Poshers to make an offer, so it’s always a good idea to start with this, unless the item is incredibly popular and you’re afraid of someone else snagging it.

Another handy resource that lets you save even more is the bundle tool. Often times if you choose to buy multiple items from someone’s closet, they’ll have a “bundle to save” option where they offer up to 30 percent off, depending on the number of items purchased. To find out a closet’s bundle discount, just click on the about button on their closet page, and scroll down to “seller discount,” where you’ll see the percentage off and minimum items needed to purchase.

If you’re unsure if you want to buy something, I would say air on the side of caution, and hit that like button instead. Buyers remorse is the worst when it comes to Poshmark, because returning an item is next to impossible. If you choose to "like" the item instead, it will be saved to the “my likes” section of your account, where you can routinely check up on it and see if it’s gaining any interest from other Poshers. Plus, if a seller lowers the price of the item, you’ll immediately be notified, so you can save on something that is just out of your budget. I’ve also found that when I like a listing, some sellers will use the “offer to likers” tool to try and convince you to buy it right then and there.

Finding an item that’s right for you

Poshmark
Credit: Isabelle Kagan

A high-quality listing should feature a detailed description of the item.

In order to get the most out of Poshmark, you’ll need to know the most effective ways to search for listings, and how to vet a listing once you find something you like.

One of my favorite ways to shop on the app is to sort by “just in” when searching a category. By viewing the newest listings first, you’re more likely to find sought-after items, especially if you’re searching for a popular brand. Poshmark is very much time-sensitive in terms of scoring the best deals, as Poshers are quick to snag the more popular items. To search this way, click the “sort” drop down and select “just in” to view items by most recently added.

The next tip—and I cannot stress this enough—is to always read the description. Here you’ll (hopefully) find all the necessary information you need to decide if you really want to buy the item. The seller should include any details regarding the condition of the item, any flaws it may have, how it fits, why they’re selling, and, most importantly, the measurements. If any of this isn’t provided, don’t hesitate to leave a comment asking the seller. In my opinion, measurements are especially crucial to make sure something will fit, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the brand’s sizing. If a seller isn’t responding to your comments or seems to be omitting a lot of information, it’s usually a red flag.

You’ll also want to look carefully at the pictures of the listing. If a seller only has the retailer photos of the item, make sure to ask for photos of the actual item in their possession. This way you can ensure that it’s the correct item and that there’s no glaring flaws that they neglected to mention. It’s also helpful if you can ask them to model it, but this isn’t always an option if they’re selling the item for sizing reasons.

Another Posher in my office, Danielle Jenkins, agrees, stating, “I always double check the photos that the seller has posted of the item and ask additional questions before purchasing, like what condition the item is in and if the seller lives in a smoke-free home. So far I've only had positive experiences, but I make sure to only buy from sellers with good feedback from other users!”

Opening up a return case

Poshmark
Credit: Isabelle Kagan

If your item arrives not as described, you only have 3 days to report it to Poshmark customer support.

I’m just going to say it—Poshmark has notoriously terrible customer service. They take forever to respond and you can only contact them via email. This is something to keep in mind before you commit to buying something of the app. The most important thing to remember is that once you receive your purchase, you have exactly three days to open up a case with Poshmark customer service if the item if the item is not as described (flaws, stains, etc.). If it doesn’t fit, unfortunately, your only option is to resell the item yourself, unless the seller didn’t provide the correct size or measurements.

For example, my sister once bought a pair of booties of Poshmark and ended up receiving two right-footed boots. She was unaware of the return policy, and was stuck with the boots until she thankfully found a comment on one of the seller’s listings from a girl who had received the two left booties. They were able to mail each other the correct shoe, but not every Posh shopper is as lucky.

Final thoughts

I’ll leave you with a good experience from our editor of Features & Trending Content, Amanda Tarlton, who had this to say about it: “I've bought all of my bridesmaids dresses on Poshmark. I've never been disappointed; they all arrived exactly as they were supposed to and in perfect condition! It was a great way to save a significant amount of money on something I only wore once. I've also bought all of my winter coats and parkas from Poshmark (I'm a literal coat addict). And plenty of Lululemon gear because I refuse to pay full price!”

Once you get the hang of Poshmark, it’s actually an incredibly fun and thrilling app to use. Just remember to do your research, ask questions, and only buy things you love. As they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, but in the case of Poshmark, one gal’s lonely, once-loved Madewell jacket is another girl’s new style staple.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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