Tips For Hosting A Clothes Swap Party

I hosted a Clothes Swap last month. My second one. It was a total success, and the girls were just as happy to have met nice people, as with the clothes they scored.

What's A Swap Party ?

Everyone has clothes that don't fit any more, that they are bored of, or were simply wrong buys or missed gifts. These clothes may look fantastic on someone else, someone who would love to have them ! A Clothes Swap is an event where a bunch of girls can exchange unwanted and unloved clothes, shoes and accessories. It's shopping for free, it's a home-made fashion show, it's green, it's fun !

It's more than just about clothes.

A Clothes Swap is a great occasion to get tips and feedback on your colour choices and figure type. It's a great excuse for a girly gathering, complete with cupcakes and gossip. If people bring their friends along, it can be a fun way to meet new people !

Here are my tips for a successful Clothes Swap:

  • The size issue is usually not an issue. People bring stuff that doesn't fit them, that means bigger or smaller sizes than they are.
  • Stress on the accessories: remind people to bring bags, wallets, belts, jewellery, shoes, scarves... That way they won't be scared of finding no clothes in their size.
  • Invite in advance. People need time to look through their wardrobes, and to (emotionally) let go of a garment. I realised that inviting people two months earlier was a great idea. I didn't know the exact date yet, so I told them it will be sometime in the middle of September.
  • Invite not just for swapping clothes, but for cakes, coffee and gossip. That way even the doubters (often plus sized and petites) will have a reason to come anyway, and discover that it's fun !
  • Invite more than you expect to come. A part of the people you invited will fall sick, have to work, or get a visit from their in-laws and call it off at the last minute. So, invite a few more more than you plan to have.
  • Encourage people to invite their friends. Seize this opportunity to make new friends: tell the invited friends to invite someone nice they know. Often, getting enough people together can be the most challenging part of a Clothes Swap.
  • The ideal number of people ? Depends upon your venue and how much chaos you can manage. But I'd say that 5 would be the minimum number.
  • Have some snacks, or better ask your guests to bring something if they can. And have some drinks. Everything works better if you have snacks and drinks.
  • If you don't have the space to host a Clothes Swap at home, get creative in dreaming up an alternative venue. A coffee-shop courtyard (talk to the staff, and promise to order cakes and drinks from them); a park, a sports hall (when not in use)...
  • A mirror is the most important thing you need, apart from a place to change.
  • If you don't have a place to change, ask the ladies to wear tank-tops and shorts, or even a swimsuit. If they are shy, that is.
  • If your guests don't know one another, you'll need something to break the ice and pass the time while waiting for everyone to arrive. This is where all the snacks and drinks come in, as well as some conversation starters. Mine were a Tesla coil, stick insects (can you spot what's in that terrarium ?), hula-hoops and funny childhood photos.
  • A great tip if your guests don't know each other: I had a blackboard and a piece of chalk, and everyone wrote their name on it. We put it in a prominent place. This was really helpful, especially as we were quite an international group with foreign names.
  • How does the actual exchanging work ? We kept it simple, and everyone took what they wanted. If two people would want the same item, we would have tossed coins, but it didn't happen since we were all different sizes and had different tastes. With a larger number of people a "money" system could work: for every item you bring, you get a "coin", that you can spend on other items.
  • So, how do you do it ? This is entirely up to you. What we did was putting everything in the middle, and sat around in a circle. I picked up items, described them and read out the sizes. The owners put in comments like: "it says M there, but it's too small for me so it's actually an S." If someone was interested in the item, she had to say so, quick ! Often, someone grabbed the item and to convince another girl to try it on. Of course, you could simply arrange stuff according to category (skirts, trousers, dresses, etc) and let everyone browse by themselves. After you go through everything, the  trying-on begins.
  • What to do with the stuff that nobody wanted ? The owner decides. They can take it home, or drops it to a charity.

   Have you every hosted a clothes swap ? Been to one ? Please share your tips !
If you haven't been to one yet, how about organising one ?

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