Clothing swaps are awesome for a variety of reasons. Number one: Cleaning out your closet is a good way to de-clutter and get rid of things you don’t wear anymore. Number two: If you’re itching for some new clothes, but don’t have the funds available for a trip to the mall or your favorite online shops, this is the perfect way to pick up a cute new wardrobe! Number three: Chances are you have a friend whose style you totally love. Now you can grab some inspiration straight from the source! Wins all around. Finally, who doesn’t love a great excuse to have a party?!
First things first: Ask your parentals if they are cool with your home being turned into a shopping-spree type atmosphere for an afternoon. If they give you the green light, HOORAY! Let’s get started.
Step One: Clean out your closet.
I have pretty simple rules when it comes to analyzing my wardrobe and getting rid of stuff I don’t want anymore. If I haven’t worn something in YEARS, and it isn’t very special, like a rare vintage piece or a phenomenal evening dress, it goes. If there’s a bad memory attached to something, I’ll throw it out. If you’ve read or heard of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, she uses a similar idea for her decluttering process and suggests people to get rid of things that don’t “spark joy.” Put all of your unwanted items in two piles—one pile for the swap party, and the other for items that you think should go straight to donation.
Step Two: Invite friends of all body types.
When inviting friends to swap with, you’ll want to make sure all sizes are represented so nobody is left out and everyone can find something to bring home. As for the invitations, you can easily create a Facebook event, or use Evite or Paperless Post. If you’re feeling creative, draw or Photoshop a flyer and send it to your pals via Instagram DM or text!
Remind guests to bring clothing that is clean and in good condition. Offer the sorting tips above! Let them know that the goods are not solely limited to clothing. Shoes and accessories should also be brought over to the party: The great thing about those is they can fit everybody regardless of clothing size! And, in case some of your friends don’t have expendable stuff to trade, let people know that it’s okay if they can’t bring clothes and are welcome to contribute whatever they can, whether that’s a snack, a craft, or just their awesome company, and should still feel free to leave with a thing or two if there’s enough to go around.
Step Three: Get some grub!
Make it a potluck! Have your guests RSVP with what they want to bring, whether it’s snacks, dips, sweets, beverages, side dishes or…wait for it, wait for it…PIZZA!!! A sign-up sheet on Google Docs is great way to organize this and make sure everything is covered.
Step Four: Set up your swap area.
For organizational purposes, it would be best to have designated areas for each type of item, like dresses on one couch and shoes and accessories in a specific room. You will also want to make sure there is space for people to try on clothes, including full-length mirrors. Set aside clear spots, maybe with name tags, for people to put the clothing that has already been taken. You can also give each person a box or a grocery bag so they have a place to put their finds. It would suck for someone to pick up a cool top off of a couch only to find out that it already belongs to someone else. It would suck even more for the person to come back and find that their treasure’s been yoinked!
Step Five: Set the scene, too!
You don’t have to go too crazy with decorations, but printing and hanging up pics of fashion icons, like Cher from Clueless and Auntie Mame, is a fun idea. You can also DIY cute decor, like this tassel garland or a paper chandelier!
And: You gotta have tunes! Make a Spotify mix of upbeat, fun music—’80s pop works always works out well. If there’s a TV/DVD player in one of the rooms you’re using, pop in shopping-themed movies, like Clueless, Troop Beverly Hills, or Pretty Woman to really get everyone marinating in the mood.
Step Six: Keep it civilized.
My system is not to have a system, meaning everyone gets to go through stuff at the same time and use the honor system about taking more than others have. But even among a loving, respectful squad like yours, it can get pretty crazy when everyone starts going through piles of cute clothing that’s up for the taking! If two people start fighting over the same garment, the best thing to do rock, paper, scissors or flip a coin. Notify everyone of that rule (or any others) before the swapping commences. Remember, this is all in good fun! Nobody needs to get angry over a tank top.
Step Seven: Give the leftovers to good causes.
All the clothes that go unclaimed should be donated after the party. Research women’s shelters or LGBTQ donation centers in the area. I really like donating to Out of the Closet, which supports the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Many communities also have charity thrift stores and clothing drop-off boxes that you can put to solid use!
Wasn’t that fun? Oh wait…is that your overcrowded bookcase over there? WELL THEN. It’s time to start planning a book swap party next! Wanna trade??? ♦