How to Host a Clothing Swap

I love any excuse to get together with my friends and a clothing swap is no exception! I have this one close friend that I am always borrowing clothes from. I had one of her dresses for three years! Three years!

I hope that at then end of your clothing swap you only own beautiful clothes.

What is a clothing swap?

A clothing swap can be a great way to get rid of some of your unwanted clothes and pick up some fresh ones without the financial outlay of new clothes.

The concept of a clothing swap is based on the idea of reusing and recycling clothes, which is an environmentally friendly way to get a new wardrobe without spending money or contributing to textile waste and fast fashion.

At a clothing swap, participants bring clothing items that they no longer wear or want, and in exchange, they can select new items from the clothes that others have brought. The items can include anything from clothes, shoes, and accessories to bags, hats, and jewellery.

Clothing swaps can take many forms, ranging from informal gatherings among friends to larger public events that are open to anyone. Some clothing swaps may have a specific theme, such as a vintage clothing swap or a plus-size clothing swap, while others may be more general.

Benefits of a clothing swap party

There are several benefits to hosting or attending a clothing swap party:

Environmental sustainability: Clothing swaps promote environmental sustainability by reducing textile waste. Instead of throwing away clothes that no longer fit or are no longer in style, clothing swaps give them a new life by allowing them to be traded among people who can use them.

Cost-effective: Clothing swaps are a cost-effective way to update your wardrobe. Instead of spending money on new clothes, you can find new items at a clothing swap for free.

Variety of clothing options: Clothing swaps offer a wide variety of clothing options, including items that may be difficult to find in stores or that may be expensive to purchase new. Clothing swaps can also introduce you to new styles and fashion trends. You might even get some vintage finds, formal wear or a new pair of jeans.

Socializing: Clothing swaps provide an opportunity to socialize with friends or meet new people who share similar interests in fashion and sustainability. They can be a fun way to connect with others and exchange style tips and ideas.

Giving back: Clothing swaps can also be organized as charity events, where proceeds from the event go to a selected organization or cause. This is a way to give back to the community and support a good cause while also promoting sustainability.

Clothing swap

How to pick clothing for a clothing swap

When picking clothing for a clothing swap, there are a few things you may want to consider to ensure that you are bringing items that are suitable for the event and will be well-received by others:

Check the rules and guidelines: Before selecting items to bring, be sure to review the rules and guidelines of the clothing swap. Some swaps may have restrictions on the types of clothing or accessories that can be brought, while others may have guidelines for the condition of the items.

Choose items in good condition: Clothing swaps are typically meant for gently used items, so be sure to bring items that are clean, free of stains or tears, and in good condition. It’s also a good idea to bring items that are in style and still wearable.

Consider the audience: Think about the types of people who will be attending the swap and try to bring items that would appeal to them. For example, if the swap is for professional women, you may want to bring business attire rather than casual clothes.

Bring a variety of sizes: It’s important to bring a different size range to a clothing swap to ensure that everyone has a chance to find something that fits. You can also bring accessories like scarves, hats, or jewellery that can fit anyone.

Bring items that you would want to receive: Finally, remember that the point of a clothing swap is to trade items that you no longer need for items that you do. So, bring items that you would want to receive yourself and that you think others will appreciate.

How to host a clothing swap

What better way to freshen up your outfits than with some new finds that didn’t cost a cent?

There are a few things you will need to prepare before the actual event, even if it is meant to be a low-key event.

Invite your guests

Pick your date, time and location then curate a guest list of your most stylish friends! Let them know if it’s just a clothing swap, or if they are welcome to bring shoes, a bathing suit, accessories, books and other items.

To get the most out of everyone, consider inviting friends that have similar styles. That way there is sure to be something for everyone.

TIP: consider making a Facebook event

Also, let them know that they need to bring clean items.

And to share the load, ask your guests to bring a plate of food to share. Charcuterie boards are one of my favorite ways to serve food at a party or event.

Gather your supplies

To display the clothes, hang them on a clothing rack, clothes horses, clothes airers in the living room or fold the clothes on the dining room table. Don’t forget to warn your guests to bring their own coathangers!

A changing room, changing area or other private space can take a clothing swap party to the next level. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen something that looks amazing on the hanger (or mannequin) then it just doesn’t suit me when I put it on. Some full-length mirrors wouldn’t go astray either!

Provide some snacks and refreshments or ask your guests to bring something to share.

TIP: ask your guests to bring their own shopping bag

Make the Rules

Outlining some ground rules before you start will ensure your guests know exactly what they are in for.

Maybe you need to limit it to a maximum number of items. Or new clothing with tags on.

Window shop first – Make sure everyone gets enough time to window shop beforehand. Let them take notes on what items they like. You could even allow your guests to try on items before the real fun starts.

Take turns – let each person take a turn to shop, choosing the order by drawing straws or numbers from a hat. Limit the number of items, to begin with. Maybe set a time limit or item limit per turn, to keep it fair and once everyone has had a turn you can do another round or make it a free for all.

Currency – use some form of currency, like pegs, one poker chip per item or numbered tickets. One currency for each item of clothing you bring.

Your biggest challenge might be that your guests fight over a number of pieces. So it’s important to have a rule in place for this. If more than one person likes an item after everyone is finished window shopping, auction it off using a predetermined currency or bid with real money and donate the proceeds to a charity.

Donate what’s left

Donate all of the leftover clothing to an op shop or local charity. And they get bonus points if they will pick it up. Because we all know that the plastic bags of clothes to donate sit in the boot of your car for about six months before you drop them off. No? Just me then…

Where to donate what is left after your clothes swap party:

Everything you need to know about hosting a clothing swap

Your friends will surely love taking your unwanted clothing to their new homes. You can always host a swap event with different groups of your friends. Or invite all of your friends at once. Creating a sense of community and the best part is that your friends will meet a lot of people.

Overall, clothing swap parties offer a fun and sustainable way to get rid of old clothes, add new outfits to your wardrobe, save money and connect with your group of friends.

And if you don’t want to host your own successful swap party, keep an eye out for swap parties at your local community centers.


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