I hosted a clothing swap this weekend for partially selfish reasons: I needed a few new blouses, I wanted to clean out my closet to make space and I really wanted more of my friends to meet each other.
Check, check and check.
Whether you want an excuse to get together with friends or really need to de-clutter, here are a few tips for hosting your own clothing swap.
Spread the word
Decide how big to make your clothing swap. Is this invite-only, or can your friends bring more friends? If it’s in your own apartment, you might want to keep it smaller. For the swap at my Brooklyn apartment, I created an invite-only Facebook event. A few friends asked if they could bring another pal. Because I had only invited a few close friends, I said of course!
Invite closet-cleaners and occasional swappers
Let people know they can bring just a few things or do an entire closet clean-out. The best swaps include a few people who really want to get rid of piles of clothing, and others who bring a couple of nice pieces. Usually, people monitor themselves and won’t take much more than they brought. I’ve even found that people who want to get rid of clothes end up bringing a pile and not taking much because they want their closet more streamlined.
Make it fun and delicious
I laid out snacks, cookies and fruit, then set out a drink station for tea, sparkling juice, and a few bottles of wine. Friends contributed their own snacks potluck-style. As some tried on clothing, others got to meet new friends over a glass of wine and a plate of crackers and cheese.
As guests arrive, direct them to lay out their clothing in different sections. “Pants are over on the couch. Lay shirts on this table. Hang purses on this chair. Jewelry can go over on the end table!”
The sections might blend by the end of the event, but start out with some structure. Once most guests have arrived, encourage your friends to start picking through and trying on the items.
Create dressing-room space
Put a mirror in the communal space for people to try on outerwear. If your home has a few rooms, set up one as a dressing space. For those wanting to try on a dress or pants, they could shut the door to my room for a little privacy. I love the community that evolves from clothing swaps as people start to pick out items they think will work well on others. I often hear, “I think this skirt would go great with that top you picked up,” or “Try on this! You can totally pull off that color.”
As your event winds down, encourage your friends to show off all their new finds. It’s so fun to see who walks away with your old standards. Provide bags for people to schlep home their treasures, then donate the rest to a local thrift store.
Text or email your friends to thank them the next day. And don’t forget to remind them to save up for the next season’s swap.