Frugal Fashionistas Unite: Throw a Black Tie Swap Party’s Susan Noyes was at a cocktail party when her friend Mary Perlman suggested that they gather all the women they know and swap the dresses, shoes and accessories that they’ve worn to various balls and fundraisers—outfits they would likely never wear again.


I mean, where else can you find a ball gown to wear for free? This is every frugal fashionista’s dream. What an idea!

Here’s how Mibs would throw a fabulous black-tie swap party:

Send invitations. Get this event on the calendar and make it a real party. Serve food and drinks. Ask your guests to bring any black-tie or cocktail attire that they are ready to part with.

Be timely. Host your party before the fundraising season starts. September and January are great times for a “gown swap”—even June would be nice before the summer weddings begin.

Turn your living room into a department store. You’ll want your guests to “shop” during your swap party, and it will be much easier if you designate various apparel stations. Rent garment racks (available at most party rental places) for the dresses, and separate the long gowns from the shorter cocktail dresses. Have different parts of the room (or your house) set aside for coats, wraps, shoes, purses and/or costume jewelry. Make shopping bags (reusable grocery bags are great for this) available so that your guests have a place to collect their finds.

Plan for what’s left behind. If you have items left after your party, consider donating them. You can arrange for the Cancer Federation and other charitable organizations to pick up the remaining clothes right from your house. Your local church may also be interested in these items, or they may refer you to a women’s shelter. And, if these clothes are in good condition (and I’m guessing they are if you’re willing to swap them with your friends), you may be able to sell them at a local consignment shop or on eBay.

Remember: This type of party also works well for work clothes, casual wear, etc. Have you ever thrown such a party? Let us know if you have and what made your party a success.

key words: clothing swap, gently used clothing, black-tie clothing, party, cocktail dress,

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