We all do it--look at our closet of beautiful clothes and feel like we have absolutely nothing to wear. But before you start filling your online shopping cart, there’s an easier way to bring new life to your wardrobe: host a clothing swap! Not only is it a more sustainable way to shop, but did we mention it’s free?!
Clothing swaps are more than just a way to shop looks you’ve been eyeing in your friends’ closets, it’s the perfect excuse for a girls night! Break out the wine and get to shopping, girl. Keep in mind, we are in times of social distancing… so opt for passing along a suitcase of items you want to swap instead, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants style. Or just limit the number of swap sisters to a small amount to keep things safe.
Either way, the most successful swaps abide by a few tips and tricks, ready to be the hostess with the mostest?! Here’s some general rules to stick by:
If you’re hosting at your home, let everyone know the situation on snacks and drinks. Make it BYOB, or mix up a few fun cocktails. Maybe ask each attendee to share her latest favorite wine with the group! Keep it easy with a few snack platters, but avoid greasy, saucy items that might get on the clothes. And don’t forget to pick a playlist!
Stress less, and keep the number of girls and clothes involved manageable. Decide before you send out invites just how much you can handle. Swaps can range from eight to twenty participants. If you’re erring on the side of more ladies, rent out a spacious Airbnb and have everyone split the cost--there’s even photography studios with clothing racks already in stow you can rent! At the end of the event, collect what’s left and donate it all to a local thrift store or charity.
The best clothing swaps have a little something for everyone. Encourage the most variety by asking your gals to contribute tops, bottoms, purses, shoes, and accessories. Ask that these items are in good, clean condition. That means no tears in the seams, no broken zippers, and no stains. Also, let’s exclude the undergarments… please & thank you.
To keep contributions equal, set a minimum number of pieces each girl should add to the collection (at least five is usually a safe start). Suggest that everyone wear clothes to the swap that are easy to change in and out of.
Are you and your besties all similar sizes? Great! Are your group of girls varying sizes and body shapes? Even better! What’s great about clothes that have already been worn is that they’ve already been through the wash multiple times--no one has to worry about their selections shrinking in the dryer.
Let your ladies know that the biggest key to success at a swap is to try things on! Clothes change as they’re worn, so it’s better to ignore the number on the tag and instead shop by fit. Plus, if you all are gathered together, it’s definitely a safe space for everyone to get a second opinion, should anyone need one.
For an in-person event, it’s best to arrange the clothing by type, so that everyone can browse and shop what’s available. So it doesn’t feel like you’re picking clothes from a messy heap, arrange the different categories of clothing on top of tables and chairs. Bonus points if you happen to have a standing rack to hang longer pieces. Then, designate an area (or areas) for your guests to try on their finds, preferably in a space with a mirror!
To prevent crowding (and Black Friday-like brawls) over the clothing, after the girls have browsed what’s available, have them draw numbers from a hat. In turn, they can each grab two to three articles of clothing they’d like to try on first. Do a couple rounds of this before letting everyone have at what’s left. Finally, ask that any pieces that don’t work out get returned to the piles where they were found so the next person gets the chance to scoop it. Similar in style, if it’s a traveling suitcase of items, have a random order for the suitcase to travel from person to person, and ask that each girl contribute the same number of pieces she keeps from the suitcase. All’s fair in fashion!
It can be hard to part with the pieces we’ve invested money, love, and memories into, but a clothing swap is the perfect way to have these pieces live on in the lives (and closets) of your favorite people. Recent podcast guest and “Mystic Fashionista” Natalie Benson called it an “energy swap” - your least favorite item or something you’re not giving energy to might be someone’s fav, most prized new possession! Not only are you getting some in return, but this is a great way to step outside your comfort zone without blowing your bank account on a whole new wardrobe. Play it up with a piece you wouldn’t normally buy--these fun, free clothes are new to you!