When a friend recently downsized to a smaller home, she suggested to a few friends that we do a clothing swap. I replied with a quick “yes” even though I’d never participated in one before. I didn’t really know what to expect or (a bit worryingly) whether I’d have much to offer to the swap, but it sounded like a good
excuse reason to get together so I was in.
The morning arrived. Just four of us showed up in the end. Somehow even though we’d never done this before, we seemed to bring similar sized bins of clothing. We decided to meet in my shop (I have a shop! will tell more soon), in a large room that served as a collective changeroom, complete with gigantic mirror.
Before we could lay out our clothing on the table, one woman dived into her bin and pulled out a beautiful pair of beaded sandals. They claimed to be a 7, but were much too big for her. Two sets of feet later and the sandals had found a new home. Our toes were in the water; time to jump in!
Three of us were similar enough in size, and we tolerated the other one whose clothing tags bore numbers like 2 or 0. 0! But even she got a few things… the pieces that had become way too tight for the rest of us seemed to hang on her just so.
We brought the clothes out, suggested them for someone, picked up something else, passed something on, nodded approvingly when a good swap was made. There were no rules or order really; it just seemed to work out. Especially nice was being able to part with those particular pieces, sometimes quite treasured, knowing the good homes they were headed to.
In the end, we all had armfuls of new-to-us clothing, with the rest destined for the local thrift store.
I don’t even know what to say about all this, except that it was So. Much. Fun.
How often do you get together with friends and play dress up? I didn’t even do this as a kid. Maybe some of you manage it, especially if you like shopping with company. I don’t though, and being a bit more serious-minded than is may be helpful sometimes, finding a morning to strip off clothes and put more on with three girlfriends doing exactly the same thing was just plain good fun.
I felt so light and happy after our gathering, and of course this was so little due to the (amazing new) digs in my bin. And it wasn’t just me; everyone chimed in to comment on the pleasure of the swap. I got the feeling it was almost a needed good time. We each carry our loads – this friend was in tears over some trouble with her child, that friend’s husband just had another stroke – and we weren’t even really talking! Our clothing swap experiment may have been, even briefly, just a really effective antidote to our very real, everyday cares. I know I couldn’t have spent my morning in any better way.
Plus you should see my new camel coat.
[We just winged our clothing swap and it worked out beautifully, probably because it was small and among friends. For more specifics on how to organize one - which I'd so recommend! - there are some good articles out there. For Torontonians, there's Swap Don't Shop!, which hosts regular clothing swaps in the city. Next up for us might be a jewellery swap!]