Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Your Trash may be my Treasure

Have you ever been to a clothes swap? This is serious fun. The few I've been to make me wish there were a National Clothes Swap Day. I would definitely be Neighborhood Block Captain. The principle behind a clothes swap is simple: You bring unloved, no longer wanted items from your wardrobe to exchange for someone else's cast-offs. Leftovers go to charity.

Those clothing swaps were held at work. We were about 50 (mostly women) magazine editors of all shapes, sizes, ages and fashion interests. We appropriated a conference room; the fashion department donated several rolling racks. Everyone brought her goodies on a specified day. Those of us who had volunteered to organize (and get a first look) doled out a "chit" for every item donated. The trade would be simple: one chit for one item. We then organized the offerings— like items hanging together, folded things neatly displayed. The fashion department worked their magic on creating a few "outfits" for inspiration (which were quickly cannibalized). When "shopping time" arrived we were all quite well-behaved— really— and had a marvelous time finding treasures in another's trash. My greatest find had to be a pair of black leather pants that fit like a glove. I would never have bought them for myself (and I wouldn't be caught dead in them today), but at the time... I never did figure out to whom they belonged (sealed lips are probably best at these events).

How about throwing a clothes swap yourself? What a great way to bring together all your friends who may not even know each other. You can work it around watching an episode of "Project Runway" or that guilty pleasure, "Fashion Hunters". Make it a real party— with invitations and refreshments.

Send your invitations three weeks ahead. Ask for RSVPs as well. The party rule of thumb seems to be 60% of invitees will accept and 80% of them will actually show. Bear that in mind when you're deciding how many will fit into your boutique-for-a-night.

Explain what the clothes swap is and name the charity that will receive remainders.

Suggest attendees bring a minimum of items (4 or 5) and explain that the trade will be one for one.

Set up guidelines. Do you want current season only? Are handbags, shoes and jewelry okay? How about men's items or kids' clothes? What's off limits? My guess is that might be lingerie, swimsuits and anything not in good, wearable condition.

Suggest a time for guests to arrive and set a time for the swap to begin.

Arrange an area where things can be tried on and seen in a mirror or okay the use of your bedroom.

You don't have to go overboard on refreshments. Offer wine and sparkling water, unfussy cocktail munchies or little sweets— nothing drippy or crummy.

Has this brilliant idea not lured you to accomplish the task that awaits? Clean out your closet!

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