How to host a clothing swap your friends will ACTUALLY enjoy! Check out these 13 awesome steps for hosting a clothing swap your girlfriends will want to do again and again!
Why a Clothing Swap?
When I was a teenager, my friends and I used to swap clothes on a temporary basis ALL the time (“Hey, can I borrow your blue hoodie? I want to wear it on Thursday”). It’s kind of weird in hindsight and it definitely drove some of our parents crazy, but on the other hand, it was a way to ‘expand’ our wardrobes – or at least diversify them for a day or two – without spending any of our hard-earned babysitting money.
In adulthood, my friends and I still sometimes bring clothes that we don’t wear or like anymore to get-togethers and chuck them all in a pile for anyone to take what they like: a.k.a., a clothing swap! 🙂
If you’re a frugal gal, you’ll know that along with inflation happening on pretty much everything else you buy, the price tags at thrift and second-hand stores have also increased to the point where you do sometimes need to be careful. Over the past couple of years I’ve noticed I’m only paying slightly more for brand new clothing on clearance at my favourite store than I do for a similar, used item at a second hand shop. As a result, clothing swaps have definitely increased in appeal for me!
I’ve heard girls talk about liking the idea of a formalized clothing swap (even in adulthood it’s still an awesome way to broaden your wardrobe choices for FREE). But, either they’ve been to one and found it kind of lame or poorly organized, or they’re too timid to propose it to their girl group. So I brainstormed a list of ways to host a clothing swap your girlfriends will actually enjoy!
How to Host an Awesome Clothing Swap
First: Raid your closet, and tell your girlfriends to do the same. Early in the new year is a perfect time to purge your closet of anything that doesn’t fit, as well as clothes, shoes, jewellery or accessories you just don’t like anymore. This year I got RUTHLESS with my clothes purge!
Normally I ‘hmm‘ and ‘haaa’ and tell myself “I haven’t worn that shirt in 3 years but I like it and I might wear it one day!” Nuh-uh. I obviously don’t like it enough to wear it even ONCE in 3 years. If that sounds familiar to you, let me tell you right now: you’re never going to wear it if it doesn’t make you feel and look great! Toss it!
I made you this infographic of the guide I use in my mind while I’m pawing through my closet and drawers, deciding what to keep and what to toss. Feel free to forward it to the friends you’re inviting to your clothing swap!
Next: Plan your clothing swap! Follow these 13 strategies to make sure your girls have an awesome time and won’t go home disappointed or empty-handed!
1) Invite enough people! 8-10 is a good number to get an exciting selection of items without it becoming overwhelming.
2) Be sensitive to your friends’ body types. You don’t want anyone feeling left out! Invite a group of ladies who all wear approximately the same size, or a few people of each body shape/size so everyone will have at least one or two other girls to swap with.
3) Ask everyone to bring an item from each category of clothing that they aren’t using/have outgrown/don’t like anymore:
· t-shirt/tank top
4) Insist people only bring clothing in good condition and gently used. No one wants the shirt you discarded because you spilled oil all over the front of it, or the jeans you’re only getting rid of because the hem is all frayed.
5) Make the clothing swap a fun night in! Combine it with a wine and cheese, potluck, or a girly movie and nail-painting party. You can formalize it by creating a Facebook event or using a free e-invitation site like Paperless Post (they have gorgeous templates!).
6) Bring shoes too! How many times have you bought a pair for a particular occasion like a wedding but haven’t worn them again? Someone else might make good use of them if you really don’t need them anymore.
7) How about old purses? Clutch bags from special occasions? These are often expensive but we ladies frequently get bored with a purse or clutch long before it wears out. Pass it on and clear out space in your closet!
8) Likewise, include costume jewellery. I know I have a bunch of accessory necklaces and earrings that I bought for an outfit that I just don’t wear anymore. Sometimes you get rid of the clothes the jewellery paired well with, or your tastes change over time. Clear it out!
9) Make it a game: Put all the clothes in an organized pile or sorted on a table, and draw numbers or playing cards to see who gets to choose first. The next girl can either steal the first girl’s pick, or go pick her own item of clothing. The third girl can either steal from the first girl, or go pick a new item. You repeat this until everyone has an item. After that it’s a free-for-all and people can totally negotiate swaps 😉 This is kind of a nice spin if you’re a game-loving crowd and don’t want to take the clothes swap too seriously.
10) Think outside the box: A clothing swap can also be a FANTASTIC idea if you have a group of girlfriends who all have little kids. Bring the kids’ clothes and maternity clothes, too!
11) Get the ball rolling: If your girls are acting a bit shy at the outset, take the initiative as the hostess to be the first to choose an article of clothing. This way no one else feels awkward diving in.
12) Host it at a season changeover – spring is best. It’s a great time to do a wardrobe cull anyway, and all your friends can benefit from each other’s spring cleaning! They’re more likely to part with items because they’re sick of their winter clothes; they’ve discovered which clothes they didn’t wear once all winter; and they’re also purging their old spring clothes and deciding what to toss and what to keep for the upcoming spring and summer.
13) Give back! Be sure to donate any unclaimed clothes to a local charity shop, women’s shelter, or holiday clothes/coat drive.
If you have any semi-formal or formal dresses that you’ve outgrown, aren’t to your taste anymore, or you really doubt you’ll ever wear again (bridesmaid dresses, hello!), see if your city has a program that donates dresses to underprivileged girls to wear at their middle-school graduation or prom (the one in my city is aptly called The Cinderella Project <3). These programs usually accept shoes, accessories, and costume jewellery too!
Have you ever hosted or been to a clothing swap with your friends? What worked or didn’t work? I’d love to know if you have any other ideas or tips from personal experience! Let’s chat in the comments.