Have you ever shopped your own closet and found a treasure (or three) that you’d forgotten you even had? Most of us can relate to that experience. You can imagine, then, what it would be like to shop someone else’s closet. If you don’t have a friend or sister who you’re close enough to share that experience with (and close enough in size with), then the closest you’ll ever come is a clothing swap. Clothing swaps come in all shapes and sizes, but at their heart they’re parties where you bring good-quality clothes you’re not wearing, everyone else does the same, and you leave with some fabulous fashion finds.
Clothing swaps aren’t just a whole lot of fun, they’re also a great source of green fashion. When you bring that great pair of pants you never really fit to a clothing swap, you’re recycling. And when you leave with an even better pair of pants that both fit and flatter, you’re reusing someone else’s clothes. You’re saving clothes from the landfill, and reducing your consumption of new clothes. Plus, clothing swaps are great sources of extremely-cheap-to-free clothes, and the whole thing happens in a fun and social environment. You win, your friends win and the earth wins. What’s not to love?
Not Just for Moms
Clothing swaps are a lot of fun when you’re looking for clothes for yourself, but they’re not just for moms. You can get together with your mom friends and enjoy all of the fun of an evening out while swapping kids clothes, or sports gear, or Halloween costumes. You can also swap toys, gear and accessories. The world’s your oyster.
Planning Clothing Swaps
I’ve attended a couple of clothing swaps, and as a guest I have a few pointers if you’d like to plan one:[unordered_list style=”bullet”]
- Find a Big Space – You’ll need space to display the clothes for the swap. The more room you have, the easier it will be for everyone to maneuver and find clothes they like. If your space isn’t big enough call on a friend with a big house or a large common room in their building’s basement.
- Draw up a Budget – Throwing a party isn’t cheap. If you’re playing host, draw up a budget and have all of your guests throw in a few dollars. It will take the financial pressure off of you, and everyone will leave with more than enough clothes to justify tossing $5 or $10 into a hat.
- Food and Drink – Just like any party, clothing swaps are all about the nibbles. If you’ve drawn up a budget, you’ll know how much you can spend. Don’t be afraid to call on guests to help, either. If you know someone who makes fabulous pastries or mixes a mean cocktail, you can buy the ingredients and she can work her magic.
- Arrange Drop-Off Well in Advance – Encourage all swap attendees to bring at least five pieces, so that you have lots of inventory. Then make sure your guests drop off their old clothing well in advance. You don’t want to be frantically sorting through sweaters, skirts and shoes while your guests are arriving. The more time you give yourself, the less stressful it will be.
- Bring a Bag – Make sure your guests bring a bag (or laundry basket) with them, or have some recyclable paper bags on hand. Everyone will need a way to cart their treasures home!
- Decide Where to Take the Leftovers – Not every single item at your clothing swap will find a new forever home. Decide in advance what you’ll do with the items that are left at the end of the evening. Thrift stores will welcome the donation. Some groups will even come and pick the clothes up from you – particularly if you have a lot. By planning in advance you can avoid being left with a bunch of clothes and nothing to do with them.
Have you hosted or attended clothing swaps? Do you have any tips? Leave a reply and share!
Amber Strocel is a writer, aspiring math teacher, suburbanite, wife and mom of two. She believes in the power of the Internet to connect people, and she believes that numbers are the poetry of the universe. You can often find her knitting, sewing, volunteering, working in her garden, and sneaking chocolate when no one's looking. She blogs at Strocel.com and shares her photos on Instagram as @AmberStrocel.