Swapping Is Sexy: How to Host a Clothing Swap Party

I don’t know about you, but as soon as the seasons look like they’re even considering a change, my thoughts immediately head to my wardrobe. I love cozying up in big sweaters and leggings in the wintertime (yay leggings!) almost as much as I love pulling out the sundresses for summertime. But let’s face it, as the years go by, our wardrobes change. Maybe you lost (or put on) a few pounds or maybe the cardigan that you fell in love with on the mannequin and bought on impulse without trying on has just hung in the closet for a year and a half.

You might be tempted to toss some of those pieces out with the garbage and you certainly wouldn’t be alone in that behavior. Did you know that according to the EPA, the average American throws away 68-plus pounds of fabric every year? Multiplied by 317 million people — the current population of the U.S. — that’s a number so large it hurts my head. And we ladies are especially bad about tossing our clothes in the trash. A study released by the National Institute of Environmental Health Science states that women produce seven times more used clothing than men. “Produce” is just a fancy way of saying toss out, if we’re being honest.

You can always take your used or unwanted clothing to your local charity drop-off location to avoid throwing them away. This probably just leads to a spectacular pile of clutter — or is that just me? In all seriousness, I purged my closet at the start of the New Year and the pile is still sitting in the front room of my house. So instead of being like me, host a clothing swap party. This is an especially fun thing to do before the holidays or (if you have teens) before big events like prom or homecoming.

A few weeks before the party, send out invites. I love to set up a Facebook event and invite people that way, but there are a number of user-friendly paper-free ways to get people to your shindig. Check out Google Events (similar to Facebook events) and Evite, an email-based, eco-friendly invitation system. On the invitation, give guests a minimum number of items to bring. A good rule of thumb is three items, but make sure everyone knows that they can bring their whole closet if they want to.

As guests arrive, arrange items by type: handbags in one corner, shoes in another. Use a rope suspended across a door frame to hang hangers on. Folding tables make great display surfaces for jeans and slacks. Tell everyone to keep their pesky mitts off the goods until everyone has arrived. I find that party-goers have far more patience when you feed them, so make sure to have snacks and drinks ready.

Once you’ve arranged everything, allow shopping to commence, with the rule that for the first round no one gets to take more than what they initially brought. After everyone has made his or her initial selections, encourage more shopping. Besides, the leftover clothes are just going to go to charity, so might as well. At the end of the event, everyone gets an updated wardrobe and perhaps a few new friends.

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  1. I have never done a swap party; one of my best friends has 16 sister-in-laws, in all shapes and sizes. (Husband is Muslim; dad has two wives.) So whenever clothes and items don’t fit but are useful, I usually take donations and haul them over to where she is.

    One evening I met some of her sister in laws and we went through everything. It was fun seeing their eyes light up at all the cool, honestly barely used clothes they enjoyed.

    I also have this habit – well, had – of gorging on fine mid-chain retail lingerie. To the point where things weren’t worn and tags were left on… then I’d stop liking them and want to throw them out. When I worked there and a free item didn’t come in my size, I took it home too. It was great to give away these things…especially because some people can’t afford it.

    1. What a great idea! I know a lot of retail places either give stuff to employees or offer at a discount. I donate so many barely-used items that I think I want to try this next time I clean out my closet. I bet moms of little kids would love this too!

  2. When someone stats talking about a swap party, something entirely different comes to mind.

  3. Pingback: It's National Secondhand Wardrobe Day: How You Can Participate - Earth911.com

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