Ever since college, a group of our friends has been getting together a few times a year for a clothes swap. I love the clothes swap, particularly now that I'm not buying anything new (thank you, Wardrobe Refashion!). This time I came home with a great haul: several tops to wear to work, a great skirt, some short pants for spring, an orange vintage crocheted blouse, and some great socks for making sock monsters. And nothing beats the price: free!
If you've never been to a clothes swap and you'd like to try cooking one up with some friends, here's what you'll need to do it:
Space. We've always had the clothes swap at someone's house, though lately it's gotten quite large and we had to move it to a bigger venue (in this case the performance space at a wonderful music shop in downtown Raleigh). As long as you've got a main area for laying out clothes, and two spaces for dressing rooms (one for fellas, one for ladies), you'll be all set.
Clothes. The price of admission is at least one clean garment in good condition. I usually have a shopping bag or two; some folks come with just one item and some come with huge bags full. At a clothing swap last fall, I scored a beautiful black crepe suit made for a friend's great-aunt in Paris in the 1950's.
A cooperative spirit. This is not a competition, it's a free fashion night. The most successful swappers hunt in teams. If you dig up the perfect skirt for your friend, toss it to her. She'll do the same for you.
cats and catnip are optional at most clothes swaps
Basic rules. This is the least fun part, so I prefer to minimize rules, but suit yourself. The way we do it is, start at 7PM. Lay out the clothes by type (pants, skirts, jackets together, etc). We never used to segregate clothing by gender, but as this thing has grown quite huge, it's starting to seem like a good idea. Don't start swapping until it's time... time is around 7:30. Keep swapping until your appointed time, say 9 PM. No limits on how much you can take - just as long as you actually plan to use/wear it. Then everyone helps bag up what's leftover to take to the thrift shop.
Snacks. Not required, but highly recommended. We do it potluck-style, and the fare ususally consists of chips, salsa and some beers. The quantity of beer usually correlates directly to the zaniness of outfits that people start modeling as the evening goes on.
Clothes swapping is a lot of fun and very economical. It's also a delight to see your old favorite clothes getting a second (or third, or fourth) time around on your favorite people.