Monday, March 8, 2010

Swap Till You Drop

These outfits are all quite different, but they have one thing in common: Some, if not all of the pieces, were free. Not because of a five-finger discount, either.

I had a swap party.

If you're unfamiliar with the concept, swap parties are a recessionista's best friend. The gist of it: Pull things from the closet that you're ready to get rid of — whether a piece doesn't fit or you're just over it — and swap with your pals. It's a great way to A) purge your closet and B) score some really cool stuff that's new to you. That kickin' red leather bag? That would be a Jimmy Choo hand-me-down, thankyouverymuch.

If you Google "clothes swap party," you can find all kinds of suggestions and rules for throwing a swap party. We kept it simple. Everyone brought good-condition clothes, shoes, bags, jewelry and accessories like belts and hats on the appointed day and time.

Originally, we were going to be pretty formal and hand out poker chips based on the "level" of the item. Top-tier stuff (designer labels like Jimmy Choo) would get one color; the next level of stuff (J. Crew, etc.) would get one and then fashion-for-the-masses (Target) would get another color. The plan was that lower level chips could be added together to equal top-tier stuff. Well, we ended up having only eight swappers, so we kept it low-key and skipped the chips.

It was a very polite crowd, and in the end, interestingly enough, a lot of stuff was left over. I think we were all hesitant to stuff our closets after weeding them out.

• Have snacks. Goes without saying. Everyone was nearly as engrossed in the snack table as the clothes. Seriously.
• Roll with it. The more clothing racks you have available, the better (I got one for pretty cheap from Bed Bath & Beyond years ago). Many people also brought their metal dry cleaner hangers, which can be recycled back to the cleaners.
• Don't get hung up on labels. It's all new to you whether the label says "Mossimo Supply Co." or "Stella McCartney." A purple, hooded Gap sweater nearly sparked a fist-fight. (Not really, but two people did want it.) Which brings us to another tip: have a tie-breaker system ready if more than one person wants something. One site I saw suggested "Rock Paper Scissors."
• Don't worry about sizes. At one point, the swap party turned into "The Sisterhood of The Traveling Pants" with everyone trying on this same pair of teeny Forever 21 stretch jeans. It was neat how the pants fit (and well) different body types.
• Broaden the, um, jean pool. Cast a wide net — have friends invite their friends. That way you get more variety.
• Donate. We gave away our stuff to a local charity that helps women getting back into the work force.


Desert Flower said...

Swaps are fun. I go as much for the food as the clothes!!

sweetsy said...

Such a great idea..I've talked about it numerous times but never followed through. Must do snagged some great items, too!