If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw that I recently attended my first clothing swap! So many of you hit me up to learn more, so I figured it’s perfect timing for a blog post on the topic. (Can I just say really quickly how cool it is to receive feedback like that?! I absolutely love hearing what topics interest you all). This post will break down everything you need to know: what a clothing swap is, how swaps embody sustainable fashion, and a breakdown of all the benefits for your wardrobe and mindset.
People tend to discount clothing and fashion as superfluous. But the exercise of attending or hosting a clothing swap reminds us that it goes so much deeper than that. Clothing gives us identity, makes us feel comfortable, reminds us of people or places or times of our lives that we’ve loved. Clothing swaps have the power to teach you about yourself, your wardrobe, and your community.
Hold Up…What’s a Clothing Swap?
A clothing swap is just like it sounds…a bunch of people get together and exchange clothes. Each person brings gently worn (or sometimes never worn) clothes that they no longer want, and then everyone gathers to look through the clothes and take what they want/need. After everyone has chosen the pieces they’d like to take home, the host donates the remainder to a thrift store or charity. For more info on the nitty gritty of how to host a swap, stay tuned for an upcoming post after I host my own!
How Does a Clothing Swap Promote Ethical Fashion?
Hosting or attending a clothing swap is a great first step towards creating an ethical wardrobe. A lot of you don’t know where to start, and a clothing swap is such a fun, community based way to dip your toes into ethical waters.
Clothing swaps are a beautiful example of ethical fashion, because they bring new life to clothing that may otherwise end up in the landfill. Your “trash” is someone else’s treasure. Clothes that would otherwise just be hanging in your closet collecting dust (or wrinkled in a pile in the corner, let’s be honest) have the opportunity to be loved and worn again.
Another way clothing swaps tie into slow fashion is because the act of selecting items to get rid of forces you to take stock of your wardrobe and shopping patterns. How did you end up here with all of these unloved clothing items? What can you do to prevent this moving forward?
What are the Benefits of a Clothing Swap?
Meet and Hangout with Peeps at a Fun, Collaborative Party
I went into the clothing swap only knowing one girl, and I came out feeling like I had 5 new friends! Shopping and trying on clothes really brings out people’s personalities. It’s such a fun way to get to know new people and to catch up with old friends. It really ends up being like a fun party. Everyone helps each other sort through the racks, admires their finds, and helps dream up how these new pieces can fit into their lives. It’s an upbeat, positive, fun way for women to come together.
Take Stock of Your Wardrobe
Attending a clothing swap forces you to take an objective look at your wardrobe. You need to rifle through all the clothes in your closets, in your drawers, and wherever else they may be stored. This leads you to really take stock of how large your wardrobe really is. This is especially important if your clothes are spread out/scattered in different storage spots. This exercise forces you to view your wardrobe as a whole, rather than just scattered pieces. Time to dust off those plastic bins that you’ve been storing in your garage and admit that you never wear those items. Time to visit that dark, back corner of your closet to see what’s really stored there.
Examine Your Mindset around Shopping
Once you make your big pile of clothes to bring to the swap, you can’t help but wonder how you got here. You see clothes with tags still attached, items you barely wore, or clothes you haven’t worn in ages. How did you end up with so. much. stuff? Having the visual mound of clothes that you longer want forces you to examine why you even bought them in the first place. Why did you buy those size 4 Lululemon pants just because they were on sale? How did you ever think that uncomfortable, scratchy blazer was a good idea? Why would you purchase that unflattering sweater that hits at just the wrong place on your hips? How did you fool yourself into believing you’d actually dry clean any of those silk tops? It’s uncomfortable and embarrassing to dig into the emotional/irrational reasons why we shop, but it’s one of the most helpful things you can do to start changing your mindset. You need to really understand your shopping habits to be able to create a more intentional, less wasteful approach.
Dig into Your Tidying Mindset
The same premise as above applies to taking a good, honest look at why you hung onto so many unwanted clothes. Are you clogging your wardrobe because you feel guilty that you spent money on items you barely wore? Are you holding onto gifts that never really suited you in the first place? Do feelings of sentimentality get in the way of discarding unwanted clothing? Is a part of you secretly hoping you’ll fit into those clothes again? Are you handing onto clothes “just in case” you someday need them for Halloween or painting the house or whatever (insert excuse here)? Gathering all of your unwanted items for the clothing swap will really help you dive into these questions and learn more about your mindset. This will likely bring up feelings of shame, guilt, unworthiness, you name it. But it’s really important work. In order to live a calm, clutter-free lifestyle, you have to get to the root of why you hold on in the first place. I could talk about this forever, because it’s something I really struggle with. Keep your eyes peeled for upcoming posts that deep-dive into tidying and de-cluttering.
New Styles You’d Never Have Found Alone
Attending a clothing swap is like shopping with a whole group of honest, unbiased personal shoppers assisting you every step of the way! As the other ladies get a feel for your style, they’ll start to pick out items that they think would flatter you. And since each woman has a totally unique style and perspective, they will undoubtedly select items that you would’ve otherwise skipped over. Their selections will encourage you to try on clothes you never would’ve considered. Even the most knowledgable and confident shopper will have surprising finds picked out by other ladies. Mixing things up and trying new things always spices up your life, and what we wear has such an impact on how we feel. So step back and let your new personal shoppers do their thang!
See New Life Breathed into Your Clothes
Nothing feels better than seeing your old/unwanted clothes getting a second lot in life. Watching another woman twirl around in your old dress. Hearing another woman imagining where she’s gonna wear your vegan leather pants. It’s so cool to sit back and watch other women feel like absolute rockstars in your clothes. It creates a beautiful energy exchange, and really helps you to be able to release clothes that are no longer perfect for you. When you see with your own eyes how much more someone else is enjoying your “meh” clothes, it helps encourage you to get rid of more stuff in the future. It’s not some nameless, faceless person buying your pants at a thrift store, it’s a real woman standing right there who is loving on your stuff.
New Perspective on Your Wardrobe
In everyday life, you never really have the opportunity to see anyone else wearing your clothes. Maybe they have the same J Crew dress. But even still, they’re not critiquing them from a lens of “Is this worth adding to my wardrobe?” Watching how other people interact and respond to your clothes can be very revealing. Are you embarrassed by how boring your wardrobe is? Then maybe it’s time to mix it up and add more of your personality! Are other women avoiding your clothes because they’re so old that they’re no longer relevant? Then maybe you need to learn to get rid of old/out of style clothes faster so they can still be enjoyed. Are your jeans too small on a girl who’s 30 lbs lighter than you? (True story) Then maybe it’s time to admit you’re no longer a size 2. Clothing swaps are such a great way to evaluate your wardrobe and your styling choices.
Let’s Do It
After writing all of that, I’m feeling so inspired that I think it’s time I host my own clothing swap party! I want other women to experience all those amazing benefits, and let’s be honest, I still have clothes I should part with even though I just swapped a bunch. Are you guys excited to try out a clothing swap? Maybe even host your own? Comment below and let me know your thoughts!