Clothing swaps are a fun and frugal way to a new wardrobe

Hosting a Clothing Swap

by Deanna Kuder

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As the season changes, I find myself dragging out my tired old wardrobe in disgust. I dislike the cold enough as it is so unboxing sweaters, sweatshirts and any pant that comes below my knee is a dreaded activity. I do, however, love clothes, and have found that new clothes can get me through the most dreary of seasons, even if they are only new to me.

One of the most festive ways to revamp a tired wardrobe is clothing swaps. Gather a group of women in your home and encourage them to bring an appetizer, a drink, and any clothes that they are ready to part with.

Don't overlook this opportunity to gain feedback about questionable items in your wardrobe. Encourage women to bring items they aren't sure if they should part with yet or aren't quite sure how or where to wear. Once you hold your garment up to a bunch of laughing women, it becomes much easier to put into the "donate" pile. Make this more fun by inviting women to bring the ugliest item they find in their closet. Provide a ballot to everyone upon entry and award a small prize for the item that gets the most "donate it immediately" votes. Having the feedback of other women is a very effective way to purge items from your closet, leaving you free to find and wear the more stylish pieces. How often do we defer to the "comfy" (yet totally unflattering) pants or the "shirt that matches everything" purchased in the last century?

Clothing swaps can be planned for neighborhoods, Bible study groups, church groups, meet-up and meet-in groups, home school networks, welcome groups and professional networking groups. It's a great way to connect, fellowship, have fun, and end up with something new to you.

Advertising is group specific. Neighborhood newsletters or flyers work for neighborhood groups while and groups provide their own online ways for getting the word out. Having the use of a church or library meeting room could open your party up to using social networking sites, such as Facebook, Craigslist, etc. When collecting RSVPs, you will want the participant to include their name and contact information (in the event that you have to cancel in an emergency) and what sizes of clothing they are predominantly bringing. You may want to remind participants to bring not only clothes, but also accessories, purses, coats and shoes.

Related: 15 Fashionable Ways to Save on Clothes, Shoes & Accessories

If childcare is an issue, have the RSVP include the names and ages of the children that will be attending and set up childcare somewhere on the premises. Parents with children can share in the cost. Wouldn't it be great if you could get the sitter to work for clothes?

For items that women may not want to take home, have a donation site in mind. Recruit a volunteer who is willing to put the clothing directly into her car for prompt delivery. Often, donating to an organization that does not resell, but instead distributes it to someone in need, such as a women's shelter, makes the attendees feel good about donating. A non-profit will often provide tax receipts ahead of time for your distribution on site or later, with the donors information, by mail. In the later case, have the women write their address on an envelope and enclose a list of their donated items. Turn these into the non-profit when the clothing is dropped off.

Special event clothing swaps could include a holiday party outfit exchange, maternity, sport-specific exchanges, or swaps concentrating on coats, accessories, jewelry, children's or men's clothes (for some of us this is a perfect opportunity for some of our man's clothes to "mysteriously disappear" and be replaced). Events can be organized for special interest groups, such as for girls attending the prom, pageants or socials (a great marketing tool if you are a make-up consultant or jewelry business owner). Inviting girls from different school districts is particularly beneficial in such an event.

Even if you don't end up with an entire new wardrobe, it is a welcome night out with the girls, talking about one of our favorite subjects, namely clothes.

Deanna Kuder is a freelance writer with a clothing addiction. At last count, she had 300 sleeveless shirts, which is probably more than she will ever wear in her hometown of "sunny" Pittsburgh, PA. Although she is a major supplier to most of the consignment shops in the greater Pittsburgh area, she is convinced that the clothes are multiplying despite her best efforts to get rid of them. She has one mantra, "Never pay retail or anything even close ever." Visit her at

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