Clothes Swap 101

Have you ever been to a Clothes Swap?

I refuse to imagine my life without them.  Today I realized that everything I’m wearing is from a swap, including a cozy wrap from Splendid, a sassy striped shirt, a perfectly broken-in belt, and a pair of cargos:











Yummy, right?

My friend Chrissy and I have been hosting swaps for over 10 years, so we’ve perfected every detail.  Below is our recipe for success:

  • 2 swaps a year is ideal.  We do one in the Spring and one in the Fall.
  • Swaps work best when you’ve got a mix of sizes and styles, so send out an invitation to everyone you know.  Ideal size for a swap is about 20 people, but we’ve swapped with as few as 5 and as many as 40.
  • Allow for 3 hours.
  • Provide nibbles and drinks.
  • Encourage swappers to ruthlessly purge their closets!  Clothes, shoes, bags, accessories…everything.
  • Tip: pre-sorting clothes by type (tops, pants, etc.) before arrival at the swap is a good idea.
  • To set up at the swap, create separate areas for each type of item.  Rolling racks work really well here…ask around to see if you can score a few.  Don’t worry if you can’t: you can fold and stack items on tables or drape them over sofas and chairs.
  • When swappers arrive, have each person sign in.  Their number on the list determines their pick order.
  • Have each swapper set out their items in the appropriate locations (this is where pre-sorting comes in handy).
  • As people arrive and for the next hour or so, it’s time to “shop” – try stuff on, scope out the goods.  Remind swappers not to put anything aside – everything needs to stay out and “shoppable.”  This is always a fun time because you can try on numerous different looks and get feedback from all your friends!
  • Tip: it’s a good idea to have pens and paper handy so swappers can jot down items of interest.  Otherwise it’s really easy to lose track of what you want.
  • Tip: the more mirrors, the merrier.  Encourage swappers to bring full-size mirrors if they’ve got any that are easily transportable.
  • After the shopping frenzy, it’s time to get down to business.  Reading from the sign-in list, give each swapper the chance to choose a gem.  We always run through the list 3 times.
  • After everyone has cherry-picked 3 items, it’s time for the FREE FOR ALL!  This is kind of like Supermarket Sweep, or the Toys R’ Us timed shopping spree you always dreamed about when you were a kid.  Basically, you can snag whatever you want.
  • At the end of the swap, everyone helps bag up what’s left and grabs a couple of sacks to take to the local shelter/Goodwill.
And that’s it!  Easy and so fun.
If you’ve got any tips I left out, please share  in the comments section below!
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  1. I love clothes swaps! The hardest thing is finding friends who are the exact same size. My friends and I used to have them in college accompanied by bottles of wine and snacks. We would bring our stuff and then have a “show and tell” where we’d show people who we brought and friends could shout out if they saw something they liked–of course there were always those ugly sweaters that we all laughed at, hehe. 🙂 At the end we would have a fashion show to model our loot to see if it was the right fit. It was so much fun! I miss those days!

    • Points Pixie says:

      Emily – I can tell you would be a perfect addition to our clothes swaps. We do exactly the same thing, except we are not in college anymore either! We just kick our husbands and kids out of the house while we swap. The trick to finding friends who are the same size is to invite lots of people. I have added so many amazing pieces to my wardrobe through swaps. I love them, too!!

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