Fun, green, and free: clothing swaps
Hands down, my friends house, at her bi-annual clothing swap. If you are a doubter, read on: there is more at stake than acquiring cool clothes.
Wine is involved, which should play a role in every retail situation – it makes everything look better, and sets the mood for a fun evening with the girls. After attending a swap, you won’t ever want to shop sober again.
In the weeks preceding the swap, we clean out our closets, putting aside our best ten gently used but never worn items for the swap. I’ve always wanted my closet to look like the racks at Holt Renfrew: coordinating colors, seasons, shirts with shirts, sweaters with sweaters. Thanks to these regular swaps, I’m actually getting there.
The doors open and there is one hour to preview the wares. My friend’s funky house is turned into a cool, hip vintage shop, with racks of great jeans in the hallway, fabulous tops, sweaters and coats in the den, shoes and jewelery in the living room, and my favorite – gorgeous dresses practically smack you in the face when you walk in the door.
As you walk around, surveying the racks, it doesn’t take long to hear the buzz about certain items: the Chloe dress or Prada boots that everyone wants a piece of. Women are trying clothes on everywhere (tip: wear something easy to change out of: save your wrap dress or romper for another time, and wear your best underwear, you’ll thank me later.)
After the viewing hour, we sit in the living room (where we can stare at the eye candy – the shoes, and mentally try on any you didn’t get a chance to earlier) and draw numbers. Good karma plays a key role here: if you draw number one, you will be the first to get to go and grab your first two favorite picks. Hello, Chloe dress and Prada shoes! If you’re last, the silver lining is you get your two picks should they be available – (another tip is to have a longer list of favorites because your Chloe dress will be long gone), and then get another two items because once everyone has had their first pick we reverse the order.
The thrill of the kill is a huge component of clothing swaps. An element of excitement is present in the air, as everyone has their secret ideas about what they want, and try not to show too much interest in these items lest they generate a following. I can very likely discard a beautiful sweater, saying, “it’s just not me,” but all the while my heart is thumping and it is NUMBER ONE on my list, and I’m hoping nobody saw how actually fabulous it was. Bring your poker face in the event you don’t draw number one.
And be prepared for heartbreak. Where there are highs, there are lows. Say, for instance, you eye a pair of jeans, your size, great make, and try them on only to find that they are the missing link in your life: they fit like a glove, feel softer than a baby’s bottom and make your ass look better than its ever looked (or maybe that’s the wine talking, not sure). You surreptitiously take them off before anyone sees and stash them in the middle of all the jeans, hoping they will blend in. Your number is finally called, and you bolt to the jeans rack, but they’re gone – a woman you don’t know roughly your size proudly strutting around with YOUR jeans on her shoulder. Yes, this happened to me, and the defeat still smarts as though it were yesterday. As hard as it is, still, to revisit this scene, I put it out there to forewarn you: don’t get too attached to anything during the viewing hour. I’m just saying.
When it’s all said and done, you always walk away from a fun evening with something cool that you can’t wait to break out, and no money ever changes hands. It totally satisfies cravings for retail therapy, it’s fun, environmentally friendly, and it’s a win-win because the remaining clothes at the end of the night are donated to a local women’s shelter.
Prepare for battle.