Score New Summer Clothes at a Clothing Swap

Looking to update your summer wardrobe? Consider hosting a clothing swap with your friends.

The rules are pretty basic:

  • Each participant is required to bring a minimum number of items (accessories and clothing) so there is plenty to choose from.
  • Clothes must be good quality, and not stained or overly worn.
  • Anything is fair game; however, keep in mind if you are a size two you’ll probably want to contribute more than just your skinny jeans or capris, which are unlikely to fit anyone besides you.

What to expect:

Evanston resident Sarah Stein hosted a swap a few months ago for eight friends. Besides leaving with some new great pieces, Elizabeth David, who attended the event, appreciated the opportunity for extra girl time—something that overworked moms can always use.

“The nicest part about the night was the camaraderie of the women, some of whom you may know well and some not as well—but let me tell you, standing around in your camisole pulling things on and off your bod in front of people takes those barriers down pretty quickly!” David says. “Trying on clothes that you wouldn’t normally try on—and then having the benefit of everyone’s real, honest comments about them—also takes away a good amount of embarrassment.”

David adds that when she returned home after the party, her husband took one look at everything I brought in and said, “What kind of party was this?” “I described it to him and he responded, ‘You mean, you didn’t spend anything, this all cost nothing and you came home with all that?’ He is not normally one to notice much of, well, anything about my girls’-nights out or my purchases (only as they appear in monthly paper statements), so this definitely made an impression.”

What to do with leftover clothes:

And while the swaps vary in size and scope, there is one common theme: donate what’s left over. David says that the leftover items were donated to the Northwestern University Settlement House in the city, where they take all donations for direct giving to needy families.

Skokie resident Dana Teeter attended the same clothing swap and says that although there were no formal rules, they made sure from the outset that everyone went around and picked something they liked first before each person took more than one item. And, as the party progressed, people helped other guests pick out things and also kept them from taking anything that didn’t quite work. “People ended up with beautiful Italian boots and espadrilles, dress pants, jeans, jackets, designer pieces with the tags still on, purses and pashminas,” Teeter says.

How to set up:

Keep in mind: The size and setup of the event makes a difference, Stein says. Nine women attended her event, and she says that while it would have been doable with more, anything beyond 15 would probably be too hectic. As for the presentation, “I decided to set up my dining room as the ‘boutique,’ and I used my dining room table to display folded items, shoes and accessories,” Stein says. “I had a clothing rack already set up with hangers on it so when people came they could just add their goods.”  In addition, she says, she put a full-length hanging mirror in the kitchen, which got people moving around if they wanted a full view.

“As someone who is constantly hosting parties, this was one of the most fun and easiest, because as we all know when you invite a great group of ladies over there is plenty of food, wine and laughs.”

Looking for more ideas? Visit Pinterest and search keywords “clothing swap.” There, you’ll find sample invites, themes, rules and even recipes for your next clothing swap.