March 16, 2009

The Clothing Swap

You want to breathe some new life into your wardrobe, but you can’t spend much money and you have too much clothing already: that’s exactly the situation that calls for a clothing swap.

A clothing swap is an event, basically a party, where people exchange the clothing they don’t want for something fresh and interesting. It can be a small event held in someone’s home or a much bigger deal in a nightclub or other public place. It doesn’t work as a medium-sized event, though, because you have to either make sure that everyone is about the same size or have at least 100 people in attendance representing all popular sizes. Most clothing swaps are strictly for women, and some are for infants and toddlers or for teenage girls, but there are also clothing swaps that invite everyone to attend.

Clothing swaps have been around for years, but have become a big thing this year. Spring cleaning is an excuse for some of the clothing swaps being planned for the coming weeks.

These are some of the strategies that can make a clothing swap successful:

  • A party atmosphere, with music, food, and drink.
  • A large changing room — don’t try to use the bathroom for this.
  • A special-event currency makes it easier for people to trade their clothing for a different size or style, and helps to ensure that no money changes hands (which could really put a damper on the event). On the other hand, some events have other ways of organizing the swapping that don’t require any bookkeeping at all.
  • There is always a huge pile of clothing left over afterward that can be taken to a local charity.

If you attend a clothing swap:

  • Take clothing that is nearly new or particularly flashy or glamorous. If clothing is worn out, just throw it away. Make sure everything is clean.
  • Don’t take any of your favorite clothes, but take the nicest stuff you have that you never seem to wear, or that doesn’t really fit you.
  • Take accessories, especially belts and scarves. Shoes too.
  • Make sure you don’t misplace the clothes and shoes you wear to the event.
  • Be prepared to tell stories about the clothing you’re swapping — where it comes from or where it’s been. The stories you get are part of the appeal of clothing at a clothing swap.
  • Try things on. Even if you’re not paying money, it doesn’t help to take home clothes that don’t fit.

One of the biggest clothing swap organizers is The Clothing Exchange, which hosts events in Sydney, Adelaide, and Melbourne, Australia, charging $18–$25 for admission. Another organization with a similar approach is Clothing Swap, Inc., which has had more than 150 clothing swap events in northern California, and which emphasizes the environmentally friendly aspect of exchanging clothing. If you’re in an area served by Craigslist, look for clothing swaps in the Groups category. Another site,, has a page specifically for finding a local Clothing Swap Meetup Group, especially in the United States, United Kingdom, India, and Australia.

Seeing how a clothing swap works can forever change the way you look at shopping, as it makes what you take out of your closet just as important as what you put in. Shopping might be about getting more, but swapping is about trading up, and at the end of the day, that is a way of looking at your life that can help you make whatever improvements you want to make.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

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