This post was originally posted on August 4th, 2010. I’ve been feeling inspired lately to gather some friends for another one of these and though you might like to cap off your summer with some “new” additions to your wardrobe, too.
Looking for a way to update your wardrobe for free and have some fun girl time while you’re at it? (Sounds almost too good to be true, right?)
Today we’re talking all about clothing exchanges: the what, why and how to what I think is one of the best ways to both add to and slim down what’s in your closet; it’s a way to reuse and save money, and it includes some quality time with your girlfriends, too.
What is a clothing exchange?
A clothing exchange is a get-together among friends. Each participant brings a selection of clothes to add to what we’ll call the stash, and then comes home with a “new” selection of clothes, chosen from the stash. Think of it as decluttering your closet and then shopping your friends’ clothes, for free!
Why hold a clothing exchange?
Eventually, many of us outgrow our clothes. Whether it’s physically, emotionally, seasonally, or just due to boredom or a change of what’s en vogue, the time will someday come to say goodbye to a piece of clothing. At that time, we can repurpose them or donate them to a friend, family member, or charity, especially if they’re still in good condition.
Getting together with friends to exchange clothes you no longer need is the most efficient way to empty your closet of the old and also bring home something “new to you.” Sometimes all we need is one new piece to really bring our wardrobe back to life. A new belt, jacket, skirt or a pair of shoes can do just the trick. Not to mention, you’ll have a few friends present to give you their opinion on a potential new outfit, too.
With a little planning, it’s easy to organize a much-anticipated event for your friends.
Photo by abbyladybug
How to organize a clothing exchange
- Plan a time, pick a place and send out an evite.
- Set a specific time; a one-hour window is enough time to “shop” and won’t be overwhelming for the hostess.
- Invite many, but limit the guest list. You don’t want the event to be overwhelming. Our parties have been limited to ten participants, give or take. It’s first come, first RSVP, although guests are always encouraged to forward the evite on to more friends to get the word out.
- Organize child care if necessary. My friend who has hosted in the past has a willing husband who has watched the kiddos as they run around and play in the backyard, giving us time to hang out and “shop” the stash. Another option is to have moms pitch-in, and hire a babysitter for an hour or so. Or better yet, plan an evening swap after kids are in bed.
- Make it a pot luck. Snacks are fun to have on hand, and guests can be asked to help bring some. Maybe even share a bottle of wine while you exchange if it’s an evening event.
- Give and take. My hostess has a general rule that you can take home the same amount of items you bring. This gets more and more flexible though if the group meets regularly. Our exchanges were every few months for a while, and our hostess stored the extras until next time, to keep the stash full enough that we can each take home a few extras. If the hostess is short on space though, she can offer to make a quick drop at Goodwill after the event, starting each time with a clean slate.
- Get organized. In an open, cleared-out space, you’ll want to lay out a sheet or blanket and have like items together, maybe even with labels. Pants, skirts, shorts/capris, tanks, blouses, t-shirts, jackets, dresses, accessories, maternity, and sleepwear is how our stash is usually divided.
- Have “fitting rooms.” Designate areas where guests can try clothes on, such as bathrooms and bedrooms with mirrors.
- Optional: kids items. Sometimes we also have a section for tubs of kids clothes. These will require some digging, but offer another chance to exchange the old/outgrown with the “new.”
- Turn on some tunes, start “shopping” and have fun with the girls!
I’m always amazed at how many cute items I find that have been “cast off” by a friend. And I love seeing something I had grown tired of being brought to life again on someone else. My husband always laughs at me the week after an exchange when we arrive at church and he sees me pointing out my all old clothes on all my friends.
Have you ever been to or organized a clothing exchange? Any tips to share?