Organizing a Clothing Swap

woman looking through her closet

Organizing a clothing swap can be a wonderful way to get an updated wardrobe without spending a dime.

What Is a Clothing Swap?

A clothing swap is a party that involves having everyone bring items of clothing they no longer need or want. The clothing is sorted into various categories, then other guests are allowed to pick and choose which items they want to take home. Essentially, this form of frugal entertainment is like having a personalized thrift store set up in your living room for an evening.

Clothing swaps work well for many different types of wardrobe needs.

  • Updating a growing child's wardrobe: If you are organizing a children's clothing swap, it's a good idea to get participants from your child's school or day care. Since young children grow so fast, their clothes are likely to still be in good condition when they need to upgrade to a larger size wardrobe.
  • Getting a new look on a tight budget: If you're planning to have a clothing swap for female participants, don't forget to include accessories. Costume jewelry, belts, scarves, and purses can be used to update an outfit.
  • Fulfilling special wardrobe needs: Consider having a themed clothing swap if you have specific needs, such as professional business clothing. Another great idea for a themed clothing swap is formal wear, especially for high school girls in need of prom dresses or college girls in need of outfits to wear to their sorority formals.

Tips for Organizing a Clothing Swap

If you're planning your first clothing swap, there are a few general guidelines you should follow to help make sure your event runs smoothly.

Invite Your Guests

Send out invitations for your clothing swap a few weeks in advance to give participants plenty of time to clean out their closets. Remember to note any specific rules on your invitations, such as whether or not your clothing swap is for one particular season.

The ideal number of people to invite to a clothing swap is between 10 and 15 guests. If you have a smaller number of people, you might not have enough clothes for everyone. If you have too large of a group, however, the party might be too crowded for everyone to find what they need.

Set the Mood

A clothing swap should be fun and festive. Put on some catchy music to get everyone in the mood to shop. Plan on serving a few easy-to-eat snacks and drinks that are easy to handle around clothing.

Organize the Swap Area

An organized swap area will make your party much more efficient. Make signs for your tables to clearly indicate the size of clothing available. It is also a good idea to have as many hangers as possible. It's easier to sort through a rack of hanging shirts instead of shuffling through a messy pile of clothing.

Remember that it's hard to tell how an outfit looks without trying it on. Have a room or two marked for people who want to try on clothes before deciding which items to swap. Make sure you have full-length mirrors available so people can see how they look in their outfits.

Save old shopping bags for a few weeks before your party so people have a convenient way to carry home their selections. You will also want to make arrangements for transporting the unwanted items to Goodwill or the local thrift shop.

High Tech Clothing Swaps

If you don't have friends in your area who are interested in organizing a clothing swap, you don't need to give up on your plans for a new wardrobe. Check out the following sites to learn more about online clothing swap options and large-scale clothing swaps organized throughout the United States:

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Organizing a Clothing Swap