My Looks

Shop Your (Friend’s) Closet

Nothing pictured above is new…but all of it is new to ME.

Now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves: Just because I said I’m not buying any new clothing for the remainder of the year (and hopefully beyond that) doesn’t mean I don’t want to pick up some new-to-me clothing. A woman still has needs, you know.

Enter: The buddy swap.

Francesca and I have been doing periodic closet swaps for years, and somehow the treasures keep on coming. I have no idea how it’s possible for both of us to keep on digging up never-before-seen (to the other person) pieces year after year after year, but I’m also not complaining.

On this particular swap, I scored the coziest, most mom-uniform-y Derek Lam sweater and knit pants (pictured above)…and a Zac Posen mini cross body that I’d given Francesca a few years back, because it wasn’t really my style, and it was hers. And now it’s not really her style anymore, but is it mine now?

Zac posen mini floral crossbody


On her end: A couple of bodysuits that I bought during the very brief period when I thought that bodysuits were acceptable items of clothing for my body type (they are not), and – randomly – a whole bunch of china. (What can I say? When you work with a china company for nearly ten years, you end up with a little overflow.)

Now, I accept that most people do not have a single individual in their life with whom they could share such bounty and both come out feeling like they’ve won the clothing lottery, so my suggestion is that you host a party.

I know, it sounds like it’d be way too much work to host a clothing swap party. I promise: I have been to these things, and they are GREAT.

In the spirit of reduced consumption, go forth and acquire a brand-new wardrobe…without buying anything new at all.

how to host a clothing swap party

Important note, before we begin the Tips section of this post: Throwing a swap party isn’t actually as simple as “invite people over and let them trade stuff” – it works much better if a little organization is involved. When faced with the prospect of owning cashmere sweatshirts and designer bags that they do not have to pay for, people tend to require a few rules, lest blows be thrown.

These are mine.

1. Invite 5-10 friends with arguably similar taste (any more gets to be a little overwheming), and ask each guest to bring a bag of clothing and/or accessories that they wouldn’t mind parting with (and that are clean and in good condition).

2. Set out display areas for the clothing (hanging racks, tables, etc).

3. When guests arrive, give them one token (you can use anything) for each item that they donated (so if she brings ten items, she gets ten tokens, and so on). Let everyone do a pre-swap perusal.

4. Have everyone pull a number from a bowl. The first person shops first, the second shops next, and so on. Repeat as needed, with the caveat that each person can only shop for as many items as they have tokens (so everyone goes home with the same number of items they donated, if they so choose).

When the party is over, send remaining items to Goodwill (call 800-664-577 to find out whether pickup services are available in your area). Interview-appropriate pieces can go to Dress for Success, and children’s items can go to Newborns In Need.

tips for hosting a clothing swap party

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