Sunday, January 22, 2012

Fashion: Clothing Swaps

If you’re like me and you tend to amass clothing from thrift stores, giveaways, or hand-me-downs (I believe the technical term is “pack-rat”), you probably feel the need to clean out your closet every so often. Clothing swaps are a good way to recycle your wardrobe and have an awesome girl’s night out with your most competitive compadres.

I took a good friend of mine to one a few months back sponsored by the online shopping site Lulu’s. There was a $20 admission fee and each participant was asked to bring a canvas bag of clothes, shoes, and accessories to trade in. After a few glasses of wine, we were ushered upstairs to a loft space where Lulu’s reps had arranged a rack of new clothes from their label—with exactly one piece for each girl in attendance. Needless to say, it was a free-for-all. No hair pulling or linebacker tackles—luckily—and I walked away with this adorable red sundress:


Then, we headed downstairs where the organizers had arranged our clothes and a few more Lulu’s items on folding tables by category: tops, bottoms, purses, dresses, etc. After a few tense minutes of waiting and strategizing, they threw open the curtain on the main floor and 40 otherwise polite, well-groomed women turned into a stampeding herd of wildebeests.

The strategy seemed to be to grab as many promising-looking items as possible and hoard them in a corner while trying them on. This wasn’t exactly in the spirit of share and share alike, but with a combination of fast-fingered grabbing from the tables and wheeling-and-dealing with the try-on folks, I still walked away with two blouses, a leather jacket, a pair of size-11 vintage heels, and two pairs of earrings. My size 4 friend and I looked out for things for one another along the way and even did some final swapping when we got home. I definitely learned for next time!

Be prepared: stylist Sara Zlotnik offers tactics for scoring sweet loot in the chaos of the swap meet. If this sounds like your cup of tea, I encourage you to check out the Clothing Swap site and Meetup group (though they don’t update their events listings very often). I found the Swap Lulu’s event through Yelp, which is always a good place to start, as are the SF Indie Fashion calendar and Refinery 29. There’s also a site where you can trade one-on-one with other swappers—no event necessary. I’ve already got a bag started for my next swap—care to join me?

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