Clothing Swap Parties: Yea or Nay?

A clothing swap party sounds like a great idea on paper, but is it easier said than done? It could be a fun way to get rid of closet clutter and freshen up your wardrobe, or it could be a total disaster.

What if all your friends are different sizes? A gathering like this could just bring attention to this fact. A clothing swap also makes us think of that White Elephant gone wrong – remember when you gave up an expensive bottle of wine for a tacky snow globe? So unfair. However, in this recession, a clothing swap party can be an innovative and creative way to shop, assuming you’ve got the right group of stylistas in attendance.

So, what’s the verdict? Have you ever thrown or attended a clothing swap party? And if you haven’t, would you consider going to one if you were invited?

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  1. KBAM says

    Everytime I read about these, I wonder…  It seems like it would only work if your friends are all the same size and pretty much the same style.  And imagine if, after the party was over, all YOUR stuff was in the discard pile!  It could lead to hurt feelings…

  2. velouria73 says

    I’ve been to a few clothing exchanges, and I have had good experiences. It’s a great way to get rid of things and maybe pick up something new. I just went to one recently and got rid of a lot of things from my closet that were in good condition but that I just didn’t really wear anymore. I ended up with two shirts and a pair of shoes which was great because I was trying to downsize a little anyway. There were about 12 people at this one, so there was a good variety of sizes. Everyone found at least a few things that they loved, so it worked out great!

    I think if you go into it with realistic expectations, you’ll be pleased. You won’t get a whole new wardrobe, but you might end up with a cool new skirt or some shoes, and they were free. Plus, you get rid of stuff you don’t want anymore. People can bring accessories too, so if no one wears the same size clothes, you might still find something fun. At all of the exchanges I’ve been to, it has somehow always worked out that someone can find something they like. Also, at all the clothing exchanges I’ve been to the hosts have offered to take whatever no one else takes to a thrift store. That’s not a requirement of course, but it was really nice. And the hosts have provided drinks and snacks, so it’s not just about scoring new clothes but having a fun time in general.

  3. ZatfigFashionista says

    Our Unitarian Church has them with the unwanted items being donated to a charity.  We do set important rules:

    (1) buddy up—you can bring other attendees but they must bring clothes to donate, and we try to have an equal crowd (meaning as many size 8 – 10’s as plus sizes.
    (2) Drawing numbers for who gets first dibs on an item.  Once you use your number, you have to pull a higher number.  This means that everyone gets to speak up first.
    (3) Call out e-bayer’s.  One swap, and “friend” showed up who immediately grabbed all the high end labels whether they fit her or not.  When we found the items on E-bay and confirmed she was the culprit, a letter was sent uninviting her from any further events (realize, of course, we did this because it was charity event).

    Our last clothes swap netted about 10 large garbage bags of clothes for a local no-kill pet shelters.

  4. SDTransplant says

    My friends and I are all different sizes so I don’t think a clothing swap would be realistic.  That, and not all of us are comfortable wearing used clothes.

    I do think an accessory swap (handbags, jewelry, hats, scarves, and perhaps shoes, though I don’t know if I’d be comfortable wearing someone’s old shoes) would be fun though.

  5. Sabrina says

    I’m getting ready to have one in a couple of weeks! My swap will include people of different sizes, because mine is for clothes, shoes, and accessories.

  6. ithrift4fun says

    We do this a couple of times a year at my church… Spring and Fall. We advertise it in the local papers, on Facebook,etc. At our first swap we had about 25 ladies and most of the clothes were clustered in the 10/12/14 size-range. The last few swaps have been more around 70 ladies, and we’ve had a better range. Women literally take home garbage bags of clothes, shoes, purses and accessories. We have plenty of fitting rooms and “stylists” on hand to help put outfits together, etc. We get everything from high end purses to Walmart clothing for the swap… anything goes. We had someone bring some prom dresses from the early 90s and some of us were looking very skeptically at them as they hung on the rack… 2 elderly ladies took them to wear when they go “dancing!” Not sure what kind of dancing they do in early 90s formalwear… but to each his own!

  7. ithrift4fun says

    Oh and 1 more thing… some folks bring bags of clothes to contribute… others bring just one or 2 items. We don’t count and we’ve always had enough. We did implement “tickets” during the 3rd swap and have carried that forward. Basically each lady is limited to 12 items (which she pays for in tickets) the first time out to shop. Then we bring everyone together in our multipurpose area for some fun stuff (we always do some makeovers and lots of door prizes) and then we really encourage everyone to load up before they leave. All leftover clothing is donated to local charities… we had almost 30 garbage bags left over after our last swap.

  8. Jackie says

    My coworkers and I had a clothes swap today, we all invited tons of people, but not very many came. (There was a lot going on this weekend in my small town.) Even so we had tons of fun, and we had plenty of phone calls of people saying that they just heard about it and would love to come to the next one. I personally had a really good experience, and we decided that after we have the next one we will donate everything leftover to a local women’s shelter.


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