We have all been there. No matter how carefully we have shopped, or how disciplined we have been in regularly evaluating our wardrobes and donating or selling what we don’t want or need, we have all stood in front of a full closet and thought, “I have nothing to wear!” We know this isn’t true, of course, as right there before us is rows of tops, jeans, slacks, skirts and more. But at that moment in time, they might as well be empty hangers swinging in the breeze, because we don’t want to wear any of it! The usual solution? Shopping! That great American pastime that makes us feel fantastic…until the credit card bill arrives. Then we find ourselves hiding in our wood closet full of clothes for fear of opening that thick, scary envelope.
This isn’t to say that splurging on some new things now and then isn’t both enjoyable and practical. After all, we do need to have clothes. Walking around in the buff is still illegal! But if your budget simply can’t take on a shopping trip, or you just want to try a new way of ‘shopping’ that is really fun and lets you stow away some extra savings, we encourage you to give a ‘Clothes Swap’ a try!
Clothes swaps have been growing in popularity in recent years, and with many good reasons. While many of us are working with a smaller budget than we were just a few years ago, we are also spending more time at work and home, which can mean less time with friends. We don’t always realize the toll this is taking on us until we do get a chance to catch up over coffee and realize how much we missed each other. Clothes swaps give you an opportunity to get together at home, score some new clothes and accessories, and most importantly, spend time with the people that help make us our absolute best. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me!
So where to get started? Simple. Go back to that closet full of nothing to wear, and find the things you like the least. Those will be the clothes you’ll swap with the friends and family members you invite, who will be bringing their own unloved clothes to swap. If clothes are tattered, stained, or otherwise unwearable, it is best to toss them in the trash or recycle them as they aren’t really ‘swap material’. But as long as things are clean and in good condition, they’re likely fair game. Feel free to go beyond clothes as well and add accessories, handbags, shoes, whatever!
Good things to have ready before guests arrive include: refreshments, snacks, fun music or favorite movies to play in the background, full length mirrors, and at least one space where modest guests can try on clothing in private. Of course these sorts of events are perfect for customization, and no one knows your friends better than you! In your thirties and want your swap to have a nostalgic feel? Slip a Molly Ringwald DVD in and keep Madonna, Tiffany and Debbie Gibson at the top of your playlist. Prefer something a bit more glamorous? Encourage guests to give each other mini makeovers. This is your clothing swap; make it fit you and your guests, and everyone is sure to have a great time and get some new clothes – for free!
While you can start a swap of your own with a few friends, if you want to up the ante and have oodles of options to choose from, taking part in a larger scale swap is a great idea too. This will also be of more benefit to you if you and your friends wear very different sizes. These can take place both physically and virtually – yep, there are quite a few great online swaps! The Budget Fashionista put together a list of Six Great Online Swap Sites over 2 years ago, and it appears 5 of the 6 are still alive and well. Some good sites to check out for ‘in person’ swaps include ClothingSwap.com and ClothesSwap.Meetup.com. Don’t see anything in your area? Start something yourself! After all, that beautiful wood closet you love so much isn’t going to fill itself. Break out your pioneer spirit and get ready for some new clothes, new friends, and plenty of fun.