About 8 years ago I moved from Portland to Seattle and realized I had way. Too. Much. Crap. I thought to myself, “Self, you can either donate to Goodwill or you can see if your friends want to pick through your stuff.”
I chose the latter. Girlfriends came over to what I called a “take my stuff” party and did just that. In the process, some brought over clothing and shoes they wanted taken away as well and thus, Lily’s Nekkid Lady Party was born.
If you’re considering hosting a clothing swap, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Is your closet a-burstin’?
- Too many black dresses that look exactly the same?
- Pants that don’t fit anymore or are no longer your style?
- Time to offload, but you’re too lazy to deal with a garage sale?
THIS is what hosting a clothing swap is for, and I’m here to tell you how to do it.
I usually do invitations via Facebook and/or email. Some of my friends are not on Facebook, so I have to remind myself to send an additional email out with the information.
Who to invite
- Range of sizes: Make sure you invite a range of people in a range of sizes — it sucks when a tiny petite friend shows up with a bag full of clothes, only to find that everyone else is six inches taller than her. It ALSO sucks to be the only plus-size attendee at a swap where everyone’s gleefully trying on each other’s size 4 pants.
- Range of styles: I like to invite a mix of my Burner/offbeat friends and my coworkers. This makes for a nice blend of weird costume-y stuff and Banana Republic basics.
- Body comfortable: If you have a friend who you know is very shy and/or modest, they may not feel comfortable stripping down and trying on clothes at the party. I’ve found that when you have guests with a wide range of body shapes and sizes, even shy people generally feel less self-conscious — in fact, it can be super empowering.
Not everyone is on the same schedule as you. If you can’t pick a weekend day, go for mid-week. In my experience, Wednesdays or Thursdays are great for a wide range of people. I start the swap at around 5 pm and we go til 8:30 or so.
On that note, allow at least 4 hours of swap time. Not everyone will show up right at the time you’ve picked to start. Some people like to roll in an hour late, although most of my friends get there right at the beginning, because they want to get first pick on the clothes!
Yes, it’s important to establish rules for the swap. I usually send these out in the invitation. They’re pretty simple:
- Clean shoes only. Nothing muddy or falling apart. There’s nothing worse than bringing your shitty, muddy, super old shoes circa 1990. Seriously. Throw those things away or donate them, because chances are no one will take them at a swap.
- No underwear. You think I’m kidding? No. People bring their underwear to swap. This is not only unacceptable, but kind of gross when you think about it. It’s one thing to bring new underwear THAT’S NEVER BEEN WORN, but bitch, please, leave your nasty used skivvies at home.
- No sports jerseys. This has also happened. Old jerseys should be rags, or donated to your local Goodwill, where someone will buy them and use it as a costume.
- No swimsuits. While I loves me a cute swimsuit, I find this to be along the same lines as underwear. Unless it hasn’t been worn or you’re really good friends with the person you happen to be taking it from, please don’t bring it to a swap.
Other than these rules, it’s all fair game. At my swaps, we’ve traded perfumes, jewelry, books, purses, backpacks. Most of the swaps I’ve hosted turn into girly flea markets…minus the exchanging of money. IT’S AMAZEBALLS!
Do it in a space that has good lighting and mirrors, and if you don’t have mirrors, ask people to bring them. Two of my girlfriends brought additional mirrors to the last swap I hosted, which was a relief since it was held in a community room with no mirrors.
Also, make sure the space is secure. You don’t want your roommate coming home with five random friends while there are a bunch of people standing around your living room in their underwear.
Supply snacks and wine/beer/fizzy water. I usually have cheese, crackers, and wine on hand, but I also ask that my friends bring stuff to share as well. After all, it is a social event as well – while you’re swapping clothes, you’re also sharing stories over a glass of wine. Or a bowl of popcorn. Or a veggie plate.
Also, since I’m in that age bracket, I make my swaps kid-friendly. Not everyone wants to spring for a babysitter or leave their significant other with the kids. Babies and toddlers are always welcome at my swaps, as long as the parents bring toys to keep them busy.
After every clothing swap, bag the leftover clothing and donate it to a women’s (or men’s, if applicable) shelter. I’ll admit there have been a few times when I’ve been lazy and just walked it over to the Value Village near my house, but only when there’s been underwear and jerseys!
Every other batch of clothing was donated to a women’s shelter — at my most recent swap, it was 12 bags of women’s clothing. See? EVERYBODY WINS!
If you’ve hosted a clothing swap, what have you learned about making them as awesome as possible?