Over the weekend I played host to a beautiful bunch of fashionistas looking to have some fun and swap some clothes. I tell you – I was totally blown away by the beautiful items everyone brought with them to be swapped – their generousity made the event really special, and I’m really happy to report that everyone left totally stoked with their new items. It was truly liberating to clear out so many clothes from my own collection that don’t fit or are just not right – and seeing them find awesome new homes. Even better was being surronded by piles and piles and piles of amazing FREE clothes!
What is a clothes swap?
Basically you get together with a bunch of friends; bring along clothes that aren’t quite right for you but are still in good condition; lay them all out and let everyone go nuts – trying on clothes and picking out new items; have a little show and tell of all your new goodies and go home very happy with yourself.
With a little bit of thoughtful planning – you could host your own fabulous clothing swap – here are my top tips for success…
Who to invite?
Invite people with similar styles and who are roughly similar sizes. I hosted a Curvy Clothes swap and we had a large selection of sizes, with clothes ranging from a 14 – 26. I tried to make sure that there was at least 2-3 other people who were either bringing or looking for the same size as someone else. We had a relatively large group – 13 ladies all up – and that worked great because of the variety of sizes. It would be possibly to hold a much smaller clothes swap of you and all your friends are the same size. The more size diversity, the more people you will need to make it a success!
What are the rules?
Clothes must be in good condition (no one wants your old stained tshirts) and washed. If you have participants of different sizes, get everyone to roughly sort their clothes into sizes before they come. You can also bring shoes, accessories, evennail polishes and beauty products of you want to!
Everyone should bring a spirit of fun, and fairness. Be fair, take a couple items and try them on… Then take more. Scooping up armfuls of ALL the clothes and stockpiling everything so others don’t get to them is not cool.
You can only take clothes from the swap tables – no digging through other people’s ‘take home’ piles. First to find it and try it on has first dibs. If they put it back on the table – then it’s up for grabs again. If two people come across the same item at the same time – we did a ‘fashion-off’ where both had to try it on and the group decided who got it (although in the end – the girls decided to share the items both times it happened for us – the start of the sisterhood of the traveling sequin skirt).
You should only be looking take clothes for you. The swap is for the people in the room. Once everyone has sifted through all the clothes and taken everything they want – then maybe you can grab that skirt that would look fab on your sister if it’s still left-over.
You should decide upfront what should be done with the left-overs. We decided that if you brought it to the swap and no one took it, you could take it home (some people took back sentimental pieces or expensive items), otherwise we decided that our left-overs would donated to charity.
What to wear?
So you’re hosting or invited to a clothes swap – wear your shapewear and a strapless bra, and wear separates (top and skirt/pants/shorts/jeans). This will make it much easier to quickly try on items – the quicker you try on your items – the quicker you can get back to digging for more.
A great hint is to bring your clothes in a suitcase. People who brought their stuff in suitcases had a much easier time carting away their new goodies.
A large open space, some tables, and chairs. Somewhere for those more modest to be able to try on clothes, and for gods sakes have at least one full length mirror. The mirror is a hindsight-recommendation as I completely forgot about having a full length mirror and it was such a bitch!
How does it run?
* Everyone arrives and lays out their clothes. We had SO many clothes that it was more piled-high than laid out, but it made the digging fun later. We had a table for each size and organized the clothes into their relevant sizes on each table.
* Intros – there’s a fair chance these ladies will be getting down to their undies in front of each other – make sure people at least know each other’s names. Maybe they can show off a couple things they brought with them.
* Remind everyone to play fair – a quick run-through of the rules helps everything run smoothly.
* SWAP – get in! It was so much fun was showing off things as you tried them on, giving each other styling advice, even pulling together outfits from the swap tables for each other. If you think something would be perfect on someone else in the room – make sure you show it to them – it’s a great opportunity to get out of your style comfort zone and try on different styles.
* Show and Tell – once everyone is satisfied that they have everything they want from the swap tables – it’s lovely to have a little show and tell of what items they scored. I love knowing who originally owned my items 🙂
* Sort through the left overs
What to do with the left-overs?
We decided to give the leftovers to charity. Anything corporate is on it’s way to Dress for Success – an organisation which helps disadvantaged women re/enter the workforce with corporate clothing for interviews as well as training and support. Everything else went to ‘Pat’s Place‘ an Op Shop in Windsor whose proceeds go to Camp Quality supporting children with cancer. If you are in the Windsor area – get to Pat’s Place ASAP as it is now filled with really awesome plus size clothing!
That’s it! Having everyone really excited and in the right spirit for the event is really important. It’s an unbelievable amount of fun, and a free way to give your wardrobe a refresh. It’s definitely something I plan on doing on a yearly basis!
Have you ever been to a clothes swap? Do you have any other questions, tips or suggestions?