how to: host a clothing swap

Hi all!

Have you ever heard the saying about men, that one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure? Well, the same can be said for clothes, as witnessed first-hand at the clothing swap my roommate & I hosted Sunday. Cast-offs from one gal’s closet happily found homes in someone else’s and the best part is, all the true rejects (I can’t believe no one took my shamrock sweatshirt!) have already been donated to a worthy charity.

There are definitely things I would do differently next time, so before you host one, please learn from my mistakes!
Here’s a quick list of tips…

1. Make a cute invite, or better yet, have someone else do it for you! I love babysitting Riley, the daughter of my designer pal Bryan. In exchange for the hours I’ve happily spent Play-doh-ing with her, he whipped up a super cute, paper-doll inspired invitation. Thanks, Bry!

2. Invite pals with differing styles. Flashy gold handbag, a silky backless halter dress, patent-leather flats—I was surprised by the items that caught my eye. We all have our own style and shopping ruts, so by inviting pals with different tastes, you’re bound to be exposed to items you wouldn’t normally purchase.

Here's me eyeing Vanessa's cast-off gold handbag. Me likey!

3. Invite pals of all sizes. I was bummed when a few of my plus-sized friends admitted they didn’t attend because “nothing would fit them.” If just a couple of them had showed, there would have been plenty of items to exchange!

4. Pre-swap, pick up a rack at Target or Ikea so you can hang dresses, blouses, jackets, etc. I found this super light and easy-to-assemble one at Target for $14.99. Ask people to bring clothes that should be hung already on hangers so you don’t have to drum up spares of your own.

5. The day of, sort and separate clothes by category: dresses, sweaters, short-sleeved shirts, blouses, accessories, outerwear, shoes and miscellaneous. To show off the jewelry, Elissa cut a budding branch from the yard, and dangled earrings, necklaces and bracelets from it. So cute!

Alexa & Elissa browsing the jewelry tree.

6. Make sure your piles are spread around so people aren’t throwing ‘bows to get through the sweaters to the T-shirts. I had T-shirts on the porch, skirts and pants in the living room and set the rack up with dresses in my spare bedroom.

Pants piled high on the piano bench.

7. Have a couple full-length mirrors available as well as private-ish changing areas. Because, you know, some people don’t like getting naked in front of strangers.

8. Feed people! Shopping (er, swapping) on an empty stomach is no bueno. You can read all about what I cooked here. It’s my opinion that a Bloody Mary bar and mimosas make any and every morning fiesta funner. Am I right?

I'm embarrassed to admit how many of these cheesy kebabs I ate.

7. Have bags available for people to take their new-to-them threads home. Also, encourage people to take the hangers they brought back to their closets.

There are several ways of working a swap including both East and West coast styles (say what?), but I think it’s pretty simple (Midwest style?): Bring stuff you don’t want, take what you do. Don’t be greedy.

If hosting your own sounds like too much rigmarole and you live in the Twin Cities, I’d highly, highly recommend checking out the Alter/Nation Clothing Swap, to be held at the Grain Belt Bottling House this Saturday, April 24, from 1-5 p.m.

Not limited to just a plain ‘ole swap, there’ll be custom screen-printing by Anthem Heart, on-site alterations, a fashion show featuring upcycled gems by CounterCouture, beverages by local distiller Prairie Vodka, apps from the Red Stag Supperclub plus makeup, hair and photobooth fun. Sounds like a party not-to-be missed, right? All the details, including information regarding when and where to drop your swap-ready clothes, can be found here. I’ll see you there!



P.S. Thanks to Louisa for snapping pics of the swap. I was too busy hosting to break out my camera (regret!), so I appreciate her sharing her photos. You rock lady!

11 thoughts on “how to: host a clothing swap

  1. ohhh, i like all of your tips! sounds sooo good. i had one and it was suuuper unorganized and laidback, and it was fun that way. but this sounds AMAZING! ohhh, i’d love to have one soon! good job!

  2. Oh (wo)man, I’ve been meaning to host a swap for ages! too bad my place is the size of another woman’s closet. I think i’m going to wait until the nice weather gets here and have one in the park. This has definitely motivated me to get it done!

  3. how fun. i love this idea. i know from giving my sisters old clothing that a few months later i’m wondering why i gave it away :) it would be a good exercise for me to learn to let go!

    looks well organized – great photos. and the title of the party is awesome too.

  4. Pingback: 2010 « high plains thrifter

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