One of the most under-rated clothing resources that I know of is the almighty swap. Clothing swaps are something I feel strongly about because I love them and I have always done well by them. Just last week our local ladies pinball league hosted a swap and it was a real bonanza. I got rid of a ton of stuff and came home with all of those lüks above (plus a vintage swimsuit and some leggings with fish skeletons on them). Swaps are great because they are free, they are social, and if you get enough people together you'll wind up with a real range of clothing (I came home with all high quality, much needed staples, and Tavi came home with one vintage pinball t-shirt, her own personal jackpot). I am by no means an expert, but here are some tips:
1. Join your local ladies pinball league. Just kidding, but only sort of.
If you are hosting:
- Clear out some space. The best swaps I've been to have been sort of massive and it helps to have several tables or designated floor space for stuff so that people can meander.
- Organize. Make spots for pants, spots for sweaters, etc. Put out baskets for accessories and little things. Rig up a clothing rack for hanging things. Consider this a good excuse to dust the corners and wash the floor and vacuum the couch and then let everyone get up into all of it.
- Provide and encourage snacks and make it BYOB. It can be a little intimidating to dig through other people's stuff in close proximity to them, much less try it on. Cheese puffs (and booze) can go a long way.
- Set up a try on space- in a bathroom or hallway away from the fun. In my experience everyone ends up trying things on together after a while, but not everyone will be comfortable with that openness and that's okay.
- Resist the urge to make rules outside of a start/stop time. Don't limit the amount of things that people can bring- encourage them to hit up friends or bring things for folks who can't come. Encourage friends to bring other friends and get the word out beyond your own circle. Don't make bringing something a requirement- not everyone has extra. The more the better because you'll have variety in size, quality and style.
- Organize a local charity to come and pick up the leftovers the next day. Find out who will do a pick-up, and if you have local shelters with need lists you can set aside things for them as well.
If you are attending:
- Use this opportunity to sort your closet. Maybe there are things that you haven't gotten rid of because the thought of anonymously donating them is heart wrenching, but you actually do not wear them and the thought of a friend delighting in them makes parting easier on the stomach.
- Bring a friend, bring a friend's stuff, bring a snack, bring a beer.
- Before you go, make a list, even if it's just a mental one. What holes are there in your closet? Are you bringing something that will need to be replaced? I brought a few beloved short-short dresses that I don't wear anymore, and replaced them with two dresses that fit my current preferences much better.
- Don't let the lack of price tags trick you into bringing home piles and piles of clothing. Limit yourself to what you need and really want. Try it on.
- Bring a bag, find a place to stash it. As the get-together progresses it will become harder to tell what's up for grabs and what has been claimed.
- Be respectful. You won't know who brought what and the shirt you're making fun of might have a wholly different meaning to the person next to you. Fold things and put them back if you don't want them. Everything will become a heap eventually, but everyone can do their small part to keep manageable.