Out of Stock: How to find those sold out items

OUT OF STOCK: three little words guaranteed to make every fashion-lover’s heart sink. We all know the feeling, don’t we? You find something you absolutely love: maybe on Pinterest, maybe on a blog – maybe even on THIS blog. You know you have to have it, so you click excitedly on the link, you wait for the page to load, and….


So, what do you do when the item you love is out of stock? Well, many of you come here and ask The Fashion Police where to find it, which is why we’ve put together some tips and tricks which might help you track down that out of stock item. Note the word might, though: when items are out of stock, it means there IS NO STOCK, so we offer no guarantees that any of these tips will work. Desperate times call for desperate measures, though, so anything’s worth a shot, right?

how to find clothes that are sold out

Tracking down that elusive item that’s sold out in your size, and your size only (Which is somehow even worse than it being sold out altogether, isn’t it? It seems more personal, somehow, as if the brand is targetting you on purpose, just to make your life miserable…) is no easy task, and should be approached like a military operation. Here’s how to go about it:

Step 1 | Make friends with the “refresh” button

This might sound too simple to ever work, but quite often when an item appears to be out of stock, but is still listed on the website selling it, the stock shortage is only temporary, and the item will be re-stocked. It might be that the brand gets more stock in, it could be that another shopper had the item in their basket, but didn’t check out (Feel free to both curse and praise that other shopper…), or it could simply be a return. Your approach here is simple: DON’T GIVE UP. Bookmark the page, and visit it regularly – several times a day, if necessary. Keep on hitting that refresh button, and if you’re lucky, your item MAY re-appear in your size. Trust us: we have seen this magically re-appearing stock with our own eyes, and benefited from it in our own closet. DO NOT GIVE UP.

Step 2 | Check your local store

It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people just keep on refreshing that website and don’t think to get off their couch and go and check an ACTUAL store. Stock levels for websites do not always reflect the stock levels in the rest of the business: we have frequently seen items sell out instantly online, only to come across racks and racks of them in store weeks later: if you have a store near you, always check with them, and if the item isn’t on the rails, ask a member of staff – they may be able to order it in for you.

If the first two steps fail, however, it’s time to proceed to step 3:

Step 3 | Check other stockists

Many brands don’t only sell their products through their own websites, but through other websites, too. For example, New Look and River Island clothing is also sold at ASOS, while Oasis and Warehouse are both stocked at Debenhams, along with dozens of other brands. Most brands will have a list of their stockists somewhere on their website. If they don’t, or if they do, and none of the stockists have the item you’re looking for, it’s time to move on to…

Step 4 | Contact the brand

You could, of course, proceed to step 4 as soon as you realise the item is sold out on line. You could contact the brand at any time in your search, for that matter. We personally prefer to try to exhaust all other options before involving some poor innocent worker in our obsessive search for an out of stock dress, but that’s just us. You can contact the brand either by phone or by email – you could also try contacting them on Facebook or Twitter if they have those options. Again, contact details should be listed on the website: the brand representatives may not be able to help you, but in our experience, most are willing to at least try, and you know what they say about a problem shared…

woman lying in bed with a laptop

Reached step 5 without any luck? Uh-oh. We have to tell you, it’s not looking good here. But if you’re still determined to press on with the search, there are options still available. Such as…

Step 5 | Ebay

Love it or hate it, often eBay is your best – or ONLY – chance of finding out of stock items. Let’s face it: someone, somewhere, bought that item. (Curse them.) And someone, somewhere, will sooner or later decide to sell it on eBay. (Assuming, of course, that the item you’re looking for is something that was mass-produced. If it was a one-off, then there’s a Step 1.5 which we forgot to tell you: track down the person who bought it and fight them for it.) If it’s sooner, then that’s great. But the fact is, it may well be later. This is why you need to repeat your mantra: NEVER GIVE UP. It’s also why you need to familiarise yourself with eBay Alerts and how to use them. Ebay alerts will allow you to receive an email every time someone lists something which fits the description of your sold out item on eBay. They mean that some day, possibly many weeks from now, you’ll be sitting at your computer, quietly working away, when all of a sudden a message will pop into your inbox with the joyous news that the out of stock item is now within your reach. We know that doesn’t help much now, but trust us: it’ll feel AMAZING when it happens. And it WILL happen, one day. Probably. Go and set up an eBay alert. Do it now, before moving on to…

Step 6 | Set up a Google Alert

We’re going to assume you did a quick Google search before you started all of this palaver, right? What do you mean “that should have been step 2?” We’re not your mother, you know… Anyway, even if you DID try Google, the fact is that there are millions upon millions of websites out there, and your item could appear on any one of them, at any time. You’re probably not going to have the time or energy to exhaustively Google for your item every day, so do yourself a favour and set up a Google Alert¬†using some key words which describe your item (Brand, colour, item type, etc…). As with the eBay alert, you’ll get an email whenever something which meets that description appears on the internet. This is more of a long-shot, and you should be prepared to receive alerts about a lot of stuff which bears no relation whatsoever to the thing you’re looking for, but it doesn’t cost you anything, so it’s worth a shot.

Step 7 | Outlet stores and malls

Outlet stores. They generally sell past-season stock from different brands, so if you have one near you, it’s worth taking a look to see if they have your item. Don’t forget stores like TK(J)Maxx, Marshalls, Ross, etc: you may have to search, but you might just get lucky…

So there you have it. It’s not rocket science – in fact, it’s really just common sense – but we’re asked about how to find out of stock items so often we thought it might help to just write it all down. If you’re embarking on a search for something that’s out of stock, we wish you the best of luck. And if you’ve actually FOUND something that’s out of stock, we want to know how you did it…

What are your tips for finding out of stock items?

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  • March 1, 2013


    Great tips for searching for that ‘sold out’ item. Currently I’m searching for a denim jumpsuit, somewhat same as Rihanna’s infamous one. Zara & Asos sold out of similar ones, but thanks to your suggestion, found them on eBay!

    Also, I’m sick for a pair of L.A.M.B.’s “Oxley” ankle strap shoes in wine or navy. Sold the hell out everywhere. My crazy self will consider calling every outlet for Saks & Neiman. Also Neiman-Marcus has an affiliate store called CUSP.com that has a lot of hard to find discontinued merchandise.
    Again, great info posted!

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    • March 1, 2013

      The Fashion Police

      You’ve probably already tried this, but Saks Off Fifth and Neiman Marcus Last Call are worth checking too – the Saks outlet in particular always seems to have L.A.M.B. shoes, so you never know!

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      • March 11, 2013


        Thanks…..that’s very much true, I’ve seen a lot of past season LAMB shoes in Last Call- Neiman Marcus!!! Actually – found them on an Australian shoe site, “Regina Sole Queen”.
        Love this blog!!!

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