Swap ‘til You Drop – Hosting Your At Home Fashion Exchange

Ever wanted a new wardrobe for free and be environmentally friendly in the process? “Sure, but how?” I hear you say.

Well I’m here to tell you all about the fabulous trend that is the clothes swap!

Clothes swapping has been getting quite a bit of press lately.

Why our own Janet Walker touched on the subject in her enlightening column What to Do in Melbourne.

While Janet talks about the AHM Fashion Exchange, I’m going to let you in on tips and tricks for your very own fashion swap.

My first foray into this fun exercise was a few years ago when a group of girlfriends were lamenting on sad purchases and never worn items in their closets, and never finding the right thing to wear.

We all have similar stories, you know the one “ I was out shopping and found this great bargain, it was on sale, 75% off, had to have it” only to bring it home and it sits sad and lonely in the closet!

Or the lure of the designer sale, where it’s about the label not the garment. MY hands are up in guilt for this one!

Now my lovely readers, you know I am an advocate for trying new styles and getting out of ones comfort zone, but it isn’t a bargain if you never wear it.

So what to do? We decided a fashion swap was the way to go. Swaps are a fun way to embark on a shopping spree without spending a cent.

Here are some tips and easy guidelines to put in place for hosting your own swap.

Get together with a group of like minded friends. This is not a competition, but a happy soiree. If you wish, ask each guest to bring something to drink or nibble on. A high tea party is a cool idea too.

Clothes need to be clean, pressed and in good condition. If you wouldn’t take it home why expect anyone else to?

Decide on a venue and time. We found a Sunday afternoon from 3pm onwards was perfect. We have had 3 sessions and each time changed venue. It is best to have somewhere with at least one full length mirror and good space to try things on.

Keep numbers between 5 and 10.

Ladies we have all been shopping and know it is easy to get side tracked. Sure it’s fun but you are all there for a reason, clothes!

If you can get your hands on a clothes rack, fantastic!

We set up like a boutique. Dresses, pants, skirts and shirts on hangers. This allows easy access to items.

T-shirts and sweaters are folded and placed on a coffee or dining table, along with accessories. Place shoes and bags on the floor close by.

All items that were unwanted were taken to a charity shop of choice, this gives others a chance to benefit.

Ours was the Wayside Chapel. So all that was left to do was to have a glass of bubbles, pop on a little disco music and get swapping!

Next, the rules of engagement.

Public swaps, such as AHM Fashion Exchange sometimes have an entry fee, or a maximum number of swap items (theirs is 6).

Usually you will receive a token for each piece you bring.

Please discuss your rules before going into battle. Make sure everyone is happy with the protocol. As we are talking a private swap, our rules were as follows;

Bring as much or as little as you like. That being said, it’s not appropriate to arrive with one item and leave with a whole bag full!

Play fair, remember this is a chance to be ruthless with yourself.

Really go to town on cleaning out your wardrobe.

One womans mistake is another’s nirvana!

I arrived with a huge garbage bag of clobber and a slightly smaller one of shoes and accessories, but I certainly didn’t leave with that amount.

Our group agreed “one for one” was not a rule.

At some stage there is bound to be interest in one particular item by more than one person.

How does that work?

Is it first in best dressed?

In this instance all interested parties tried on said item. Usually it worked for one better than the other.

We all gave feedback and that seemed to work. When in doubt, the one who saw it first, gets it!

We were all shapes and sizes, and an interesting observation was how sizing worked.

My tantalisingly tall friend who was so convinced she would leave with nothing, came away with 2 of my dresses. I will point out I’m about 5 inches shorter.

So it pays to try anything and everything! What was maxi on me was mid calf on her and looked great.

We all had a brilliant time.

I came away with a divine Saba winter coat that I love, great tailored pants, a few dresses and a couple of scarves.

In fact we all came away happy with our loot.

The best bit, I didn’t spend a cent and had an awesome afternoon with my lovely girlfriends.

Does it get any better than that?

Why not try it and let me know how your swap goes!

CiaoJo Bayley, Fashion Editor, The Culture Concept Circle 2013

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