How to Host a Clothing Swap Party

Can’t bear to part with clothes that are a little (or a lot!) roomy? Invite your friends over for a clothing swap. Everyone will walk away happy.
Swap Your Way to Style

It’s a great feeling the first time you realize you just can’t wear those now-baggy pants out in public. The question is, What can you wear? Instead of needlessly spending money to restock your wardrobe at each size along the way toward your goal, try swapping clothes with friends. You can pass along your too-baggy pants and now-oversized sweaters while scooping up a fabulous-fitting pair of jeans and cute top that someone else is ready to part with.

"You’ll save money, score some exciting, new-to-you pieces, and give your clothes a second life in someone else’s hands,” promises Suzanne Agasi, founder of Clothing Swap™. Agasi has hosted over 200 swaps, from small gatherings to big ones; she offers her best planning tips:

1. Invite family and friends of all shapes and sizes and encourage them to bring their friends. A large turnout will result in more items for guests to browse. Invite about twice as many people as you hope will attend and assume that about half will show up.

Rules of the Swap

Agasi’s swap guidelines are important for keeping the swap organized and everyone happy:
  • All swap items should arrive clean.
  • Leave personal shoes, coats, and purses in one designated spot so they don’t accidentally become part of the swap.
  • Try on clothes before taking them home. That way you won't leave with a piece that isn’t right for you, but that would have been right for someone else.
  • Tell each guest to bring an empty tote or shopping bag. This bag will store the clothes guests arrived wearing as they try on new items, and also hold swap items they intend to keep.
  • Play nice. Agasi has found that women often start picking out clothes for each other during her events. Let a fellow swapper know when something looks great on her – it could make her day!

2. Ask guests to go through their closets, attics, and storage units to find clothes, shoes, and accessories that are in great shape, but not getting the love they deserve. A good rule is, if you haven’t worn an item in one year it’s time to let it go.

3. Plan for the swap to last about three hours. Once everyone arrives, the clothes will need to be sorted, which can take an hour or more. The swapping itself can last up to two hours. Tell guests in advance that they'll need to commit three hours to the swap.

4. Organize clothing by item, not by size. Agasi has found that this makes sorting easier and promotes more interaction among guests as they search through the bounty. Plan out ahead of time where you will arrange each category (shirts in one area, skirts in another, etc). Borrow rolling racks for hanging, create pretty display signs; these details help clothes look their best.

5. Make it a party by serving food and drinks. A potluck brunch with mimosas or a simple wine and cheese spread can turn any swap into a fabulous event. While you (and maybe a few volunteer assistants) are putting the clothes in order, the other guests can mingle. Agasi believes this time is important because it allows the women you’ve invited to relax, get to know one another, and loosen up before the swapping officially begins.

6. Donate the clothes that go unclaimed to a local charity. Agasi recommends doing your research ahead of time so that when the party is over you know exactly what to do with the leftovers. Call ahead to local shelters for abused women, churches, or food pantries to see if they’re currently accepting clothing donations. Hospice thrift stores, the Salvation Army, and Goodwill are additional resources to investigate.

7. Enjoy the rewarding feeling that goes along with a swap, as well as your new clothes. Agasi reports that swap attendees tell her time and again that, “they are thrilled with their swap finds, but enjoy seeing someone else so happy to wear their once-loved pieces even more.”

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