Tip 11: Host a clothes swap

Remember back in Tip 8 when we had our ‘no’ pile of clothes? Those items that no longer have a place in one’s wardrobe and can’t easily be repurposed as sleepwear, activewear or comfortable-at-home clothes.

Well, my personal philosophy is that clothes should be worn until they are worn out (mainly for environmental reasons, because of the effort that goes into producing a garment I personally feel that wearing an item until it wears out is the best way to do justice to the item). However, I know sometimes I end up with a mistake or my tastes change and I simply no longer see a need for a few particular items. That’s where a clothes swap can be really handy. 

I have hosted a clothes swap and attended several others. It’s a pretty straightforward event to host. Personally I like to use it as an excuse to engage in one of my other favourite activities, baking, so ahead of the swap I’ll make a cake and ensure I have some nice teas on hand. The other swaps I’ve been to have also had some light snacks for guests. 

On the day itself everyone is encouraged to bring some items to the swap (though they certainly are not required to). Typically these items are clothes and accessories still in good condition which the owner no longer needs or wants. During the swap each person holds up and describes the items they have brought (eg the cowl neck on this sits well I’m just bored of wearing this top to work; the jeans are near new but too big at the waist; etc) and guests are encouraged to take items of interest. Usually this is carried out in the lounge and then guests head off to bedrooms or bathrooms with a mirror to try on the items and assess the fit. 

I have found this is especially helpful for picking up good quality items for free. I’ve acquired several pairs of jeans, jackets and many tops from such swaps. I have noticed that it is particularly helpful for individuals with a lifestyle change; say they’ve started a new job with a uniform so no longer wear nice office clothes and that type of thing. 

It is handy if most guests are a similar size but it is helpful to have a bit of a range in the sizes because sometimes the reason a guest has bought an item is because it is too small or large for them, making it perfect for others. And anyone can benefit from a new-to-them scarf or handbag.

While it’s not the main reason I attend and host clothes swaps, my friends and I have saved money because of the swaps. For myself, I’ve not needed to buy jeans in years because on three occasions the jeans bought by other guests fit me perfectly or simply needed hemming. How good is that? 

A few of us enjoy clothes swaps and so every six months, ahead of the change in season, one of us hosts a swap inviting others from our circle of friends which exposes us to new styles. In my personal experience, five to eight guests works best. It’s a lot of fun and I sincerely recommend it to everyone.