How-to Host Your Own Clothing Swap

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Make sure to leave a sign on your door if guests are new to your neighborhood.

Make sure to leave a sign on your door if guests are new to your neighborhood.

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

Clear off table space so guests can top it with shirts and sweaters.

Clear off table space so guests can spread out their shirts and sweaters.

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

A clothing swap guest with a sweet tiger shirt score.

A clothing swap guest with a sweet tiger shirt score.

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 spread out chips, cookies, cheese and crackers.

I spread out chips, cookies, cheese and crackers.

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.

Organize

Skirts and dresses cover the couch.

Skirts and dresses cover the couch.

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

Create open space so guests can move among clothing sections.

Create open space so guests can move among clothing sections.

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.”

A guest sizes up a coat before trying it on.

A guest sizes up a coat before trying it on.

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.

Encourage guests to show off their finds at the end of the swap.

Encourage guests to show off their finds at the end of the swap.

 
  • CJ Lotz

    We hadn’t thought of making money… just free swaps with your friends! But money might be available at consignment shops! Let us know how the swap goes.

  • CJ Lotz

    Have fun! Let us know if you have any additional tips or tricks after you’ve tried it!

  • Katherine Marie Weir

    I never thought of this. I normally give all of my stuff to the Goodwill or another thrift store. This is a cool way to make money on the side while doing some amazing Spring Cleaning! I need to try this!!

  • Greta S.

    I sure will! Thank you!

  • I’ve always wanted to do one of these. I’m definitely going to follow these suggestions.

  • CJ Lotz

    We had a blast! Let Krrb know if you try it out soon!

  • CJ Lotz

    Yes, I’ve participated in a beauty supply one as well. They’re great when you set up a “purifying/sterilizing” stand so people can clean up any items with a spritz of alcohol.

  • CJ Lotz

    Let us know how it goes! Hope your friends have a blast!

  • CJ Lotz

    I’m so glad you came! :)

  • CJ Lotz

    How amazing! Love the name too. We’re thinking about a guys’ one as well!

  • CJ Lotz

    I agree that the huge ones can be fun! The smaller ones are so personal and manageable though!

  • Greta S.

    This is so much fun! Love swamping out clothes especially with my girlfriends!

  • LisaB

    I love this idea. I’ve seen some other articles that include beauty products as well – the more the merrier.

  • Rachel Morrell

    This is such a great idea!!! My friends and I are always borrowing eachothers clothes anyways, why not swap them instead!! Plus a great excuse for the girls to get together, eat some snacks and open a bottle of wine! thanks for the idea!!

  • Had so much fun at your clothing swap!

  • gayley

    I live in Boston and have done this annually with a group of women for the last 12 or so years. We call it a “Bitch N’ Swap.” Not only is it a great reason to get together, but noone has ever left without something fantastic.

    We include fashion accessories and even housewears too.

    I think one for men would be fantastic!

  • Clothing swaps are the GREATEST. I honestly adore them. In San Francisco they can get huge – there’s one in Dolores Park every year that is epic! But I personally prefer the smaller ones with just a few girlfriends. That sweater you loved but really never wear is easier to pass up when you know one of your best friends is going to rock it. Super fun post for those who haven’t done it before – plus anything that has “delicious” included in the instructions works for me :).

  • CJ Lotz

    I’m really curious about how a guy’s one would go! I’ve been asking some of my male friends if they were interested and it seems like overall, they really want to get rid of clothes and get new ones! If you try it with your friends, let us know how it goes!

  • This.Is.Amazing. You need to have a male clothing swap (or maybe a masculine one?). I have honestly never heard of this and I feel totally inspired to take my friends’ clothing! I like the idea of making a party out of it. It reminds me of a modern twist on a potluck dinner, only with fewer expenditures.