We all have those clothes. The pieces that you just don’t wear anymore but can’t quite bring yourself to give to the thrift shop. Maybe it was really expensive and only worn once or twice (or not at all…). Maybe you wore it SO often that it has immense sentimental value, but just doesn’t suit your life anymore.
What to do with them?
Answer is simple. Have a Swapsies Party!
My friend Janet (an amazing photographer – check out her Facebook page, Blackbird Boulevard Photography) hosted our first one a couple of years ago. We generally now do them 4-5 times a year and each one is better than the last. It’s so simple!
Get a group of your friends to round up their undesirable clothing/jewelery/gently used cosmetics/etc. (size of the group depends on size of the host space – we find it generally works best with about 6-7 people in a small-ish apartment).
Display the clothing around the room (pro-tip: get your hands on some clothing rails, if only for the afternoon). We generally put dresses on a rail, and then have a couch for tops and a couch for bottoms, a chair with jackets/coats, a table with jewellery/miscellany, a section on the floor for shoes and bags, and a “bargain bin”, which is just a large bag or basket that has basics and very-loved items in it. You’ll find that sometimes you’ll need another section – last time, for some reason, we had loads of scarves, so there was a rail just for them.
Everyone brings a “grab bag” – a big one is recommended. The IKEA ones are perfect. Last time, we opted to be more civilized and pulled names out of a hat and in that order everyone got to choose one item that they really loved. That way you were sure to get at least one thing you wanted because the next step is…
Chaos! One two three grab!
Everyone rushes around the room, grabbing at will. If you’re smart, you’ll make a plan with your buddy beforehand – one of you can take each side of the room and grab things for the other person. There’s a strict “no touching” rule before the grab in our group (apart from the intial display period) so garments are flying everywhere while people see what they want.
Then – the lull. This is the key part of swapsies. Everyone tries on everything they grabbed, then and there. If you’re a bit more modest, you can retire to a bedroom or bathroom. Anything you’re unsure about gets a group vote. And this is when the actual swapping comes in – maybe someone got that kimono you had your eye one – but you also managed to grab a pair of boots that she wanted. Perfect opportunity to orchestrate a trade.
Did I mention that while all of this is going on, there’s wine and snacks and music?
Swapsies can be intense, but it’s so much fun. And I’ve always come away with great items – including a beautiful TopShop playsuit, and some burgandy velvet leggings that have garnered me loads of compliments. It’s also fun seeing what items come back around. There was a pair of leather pants that took a few goes before finding their perfect home. And a great yellow and black checked dress that is now on it’s third person, just because the first two felt they’d gotten their use out of it.
Plus, at the end, anything not taken gets brought to the charity shop or Woman’s Aid. And there’s always a LOT left over.
So if your wardrobe needs a revamp and you don’t feel like spending more than the cost of a bottle of wine – or if you just want to do a little spring cleaning – organize a swapsies party with your friends. Tell us about it if you do!