How To Host a Clothing Swap

Originally published April 13, 2010, on as a guest post. To see, click here.

I like new clothes (but hate shopping). I also like free things (who doesn’t?).  I’m a working single parent these days with little time, patience, and funds to hit the mall, so when I was introduced to the idea of a clothing swap, I was immediately on board. Why? A clothing swap puts into action “Another (wo)man’s trash is another (wo)man’s treasure,” truly making this living green lifestyle thingy very fashionable. We’ve all been there, staring at the closet overloaded with clothes but have nothing to wear. A swap brings together your friends and their unwanted, misguided fashion choices for scoring free new-to-you finds, as well as a chance to socialize and do social good. I’ve been to a few swaps, both held amongst friends in their homes and open to the public events; recently I hosted one at my home with ladies I love.  Here are some tips to get you swapping:

-     Calling all women: Not to deter the guys from hosting, but a swap in my experience so far seems to lend itself more to those of the female persuasion. I invited women from all aspects of my life: old friends, neighbors, buddies from my kickboxing
clothing swap1

You name it, you can swap it.

class, other moms from my kid’s school, coworkers. And told them to bring a friend. The more the merrier= more variety of styles and sizes (and good conversation).   We set the date and spread the word through an e-mail invitation.

-          Decide the merchandise: Some swaps are strictly clothing and shoes, while others may include beauty, household, kids stuff, etc. For easy browsing, arrange all items into categories (pants, skirts/dresses, shirts by size, shoes, accessories, etc.) Label if necessary. At a recent swap, my neighbor acquired a hand-carved rocking chair, an item she needed and planned to buy. No item is too big or small.  As long as it’s still got some use or life to it, swap it. Note:  All items should be sanitary (and for Pete’s sake, no undergarments) and sorted by category.

-          How to swap: Some swaps have a preview period before the event unleashes the guests on the goods, putting the free in free-for-all. Other take a more guided approach, such as taking turns by choosing numbers  or categories of items or having each interested party plead their case for the desired item.  Be gracious, and don’t be greedy (harder than you think).

-          Pass it on: Give leftover items to a local thrift store; call the charity ahead of time to ensure they are accepting donations.

-          Other essentials: a full length mirror and place(s) to try on clothes, such as bathrooms or bedrooms.  Good music (I used an iPod, while others have a live dj!wow!). Food and beverages which are quick and easy to eat between rounds of swapping. Introduce yourself to those you don’t know, make a new friend.

-           At the end, have everyone show off their picks: I have to say it is really satisfying to see my unwanted items find a new home.

from Me being dorky at my first swap hosted by 4580 in Boulder, Colo.

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