MintStyle

MintStyle with Rachel Weingarten: Swap it to Me — How to Organize a Clothing Swap

casual clothing

Like the perfect designer dress that really isn’t, or the pants that seemed flawless in the store but have to be altered, buyer’s remorse comes in many shapes and sizes.

In my case, it involved a pricey purple cowgirl shirt bought in a moment of weakness (or insanity) while visiting Nashville some years back.

Too impractical to sell on eBay and too pretty to donate to a high school drama department, my shirt hung in my closet for years reminding me of two things: my brief (but glorious!) moment on stage at the Grand Old Opry and the fact that even people with great taste can momentarily lose their sense of style.

Recourse for Buyer’s Remorse

My story has a happy ending though. My friend had been hankering for a kitschy but cute shirt for the longest time and was willing to swap me for a vintage handbag of hers.

We were both happy with the exchange and secure in the knowledge that our beloved belongings had each found a good home.

A Questionable Trend

A few years back, online swap sites offering everything from cosmetics to underwear became all the rage. But the notion of swapping with strangers can be fraught with fears of an unfair swap or ending up with damaged, soiled, or unsightly goods.

Instead of holding onto your old clothes or taking a chance with a stranger, why not organize a swap with friends?

Before You Swap

A few things to take into account:

  • Be open: Go in with an open mind instead of an open wallet — you may end up with some unexpected finds.
  • Be organized: Team up with a friend or two to decide on the time, venue, snacks (if any) and ways to display or try on garments.
  • Keep it fun: Choose music, munchies or have an informal fashion show.
  • Sizing: It can be hard for someone who’s either plus size or petite to find something great at a swap party. Try to have a few friends with similar shapes and sizes, or at least offer an interesting assortment of accessories.
  • Condition: Before a garment can be up for swap, set some ground rules: freshly laundered and free of snags, tears or visible damage.
  • Quality: Decide in advance if the general theme is going to be more low-key or classic couture.
  • Fair and square: Set up a point system where high-end items are worth more points. Create a ticketing system on your computer and print out color coded tags and corresponding tickets for all items.
  • Mind your modesty: Have a few full-length mirrors set up and a privacy curtain if possible.
  • Add some inspiration: Just for fun, print out photos of you wearing your up-for-swap dress. It will help inspire others figure out how to wear your former finery.
  • Have a grab bag: Encourage friends to bring fun unopened items (samples of perfume, earrings or fancy soaps are great choices) and allow your guests to choose a piece before they leave.
  • Share the wealth: Designate a charity in advance and donate all unclaimed clothing. Organizations like Dress for Success or Career Gear help women and men find appropriate clothing to wear for interviews.

So the next time someone compliments you on an outfit, you can honestly say, “What, this old thing?”

You’ll feel extra smug knowing that not only did you help a charity by cleaning out your closet, but you’ve also updated your wardrobe without spending a dime.

Rachel Weingarten has a questionable pair of red patent leather Prada platforms she’d like to swap for something more practical. She’s a style expert, marketing strategist & personal branding consultant for CEOs, politicians and celebrities and the creator of MintStyle. She is the award-winning author of Career and Corporate Cool and Hello Gorgeous! Beauty Products in America ‘40s-‘60s. Visit her online at http://racheletc.com or on Twitter @rachelcw Write to her with your burning style questions at mintstylerachel@gmail.com