Too Many Clothes? Swap 'Em!
by Marcia Passos Duffy
I bumped into a friend at the supermarket the other day. She eyed my sweater
a bit too enviously. “Love that color,” she said. “Do you want to get rid of it?”
We both laughed and I politely told her to take her paws off. It wasn’t ready to
be swapped -- not yet.
We, along with about a half-dozen other friends, are clothes swappers. We
meet every so often with our bags of unwanted clothing after a spring (or fall)
cleaning frenzy to, well, swap clothing.
I was invited to a clothes swap several years ago after a friend (who probably
realized we were about the same dress size) invited me to a clothes swap she
organized at her house.
At first, I was skeptical on what kind of clothing I could get, and, frankly, a bit
embarrassed over the hopeless rags I lugged along that nobody in their right
mind would want.
But, what ensued was a cross between a slumber party and an open fitting
room at Filene’s Basement.
There were eight of us at my first clothes swap. Veteran clothes-swappers
immediately told us to dump our goods on the bed, and dig in. It was finder’s
keepers -- but you had to try it on first!
One hand pulled out my awful maroon wool dress (that fit too snug and short
on me). I had to admit it was mine. It was gingerly picked up by a petite
woman who I only knew in passing. Was she just trying to humor me by trying
it on? When she emerged from the bathroom it was like the dress was tailor-
designed just for her. It was snug in all the right places; the hem hit just above
the knee, where it should have.
“I’ll take it,” she said and quietly folded it up into a growing pile she was
gathering at her feet.
Wow. Hey, maybe this wasn’t so bad after all!
One woman threw a very loud flowered dress at me. “This is YOU,” she said.
Huh? Me, who wears muted greens, grays and black? It was not a dress I
would ever try on, never mind wear. But, with prodding from the group, I did
try it on and sheepishly modeled it. Claps, cheers. “Take it!” “Oh, it IS you!” I
laughed and kept it, I mean, what did I have to lose? (I’ve since worn it several
times. A special notice to all my friend swappers: I’m now tired of it and it will
emerge again at our next clothes swap).
Which brings me to the point of a clothes swap. There is nothing to lose! I
have come home with the most amazing clothing that I could not believe
women would want to part with: a genuine pea coat, an Alpaca sweater,
practically new T-shirts and turtlenecks in every color, an elegant purple dress.
The clothing also carries a special significance. While casually flinging a silk
scarf around my neck, the owner of the article said it used to belong to her
mother. I think of the history of that scarf whenever I wear it. In turn, I often see
my clothing on friends. “Hey, that’s mine!” I’ll say jokingly. “But it looks better
on you,” I add, sincerely.
It’s nice to know where my clothes are. And it’s nice to know where they came
After the end of about two hours, the group of clothes swappers reaches the end
of the pile on the bed. There is an unbelievably deep sense of satisfaction
knowing that your clothing has found a new -- and appreciative -- owner.
And, you leave with a pile of clothes that you want to wear! And it’s free!
So before you dump your clothes in the Goodwill box, think of your friends!
Clothes Swapping Tips
=> Invite your friends and ask your friends to invite their friends
=> About 8-10 women is the goal -- aim for all shapes & sizes
=> If you are hosting the swap at your house, make sure you have at least two
full-length mirrors available
=> For those of us who are modest, make sure there are other rooms available
to dress and undress. If this isn't possible, remind people they can wear a body
suit or bathing suit underneath their clothing if they wish.
=> Clothes swaps can be seasonal, but they don’t have to be: The best clothes
swaps have all seasons clothing.
=> If two people want the same item, you can have fun with this by either a
coin toss, or having each person model the item of clothing and have a vote (do
this only if you’re sure there won’t be hard feelings).
=> If you have second thoughts about an item you have up for grabs -- speak
up quickly. A simple “Hmm, I’m not so sure I’m ready to give that up yet,”
should suffice, before someone else gets too attached to the item.
=> Be prepared -- for a good time! You’ll be surprised how much fun you’ll
have with a group of women trying on clothing!
About the author: Marcia Passos Duffy (now a veteran clothes-swapper) is a
freelance writer and publisher of The Heart of New England, an online
magazine that celebrates the unique character of northern New England.