Clothing Swap!


A week ago, I hosted a clothing swap!  The intent was to subversively reject Black Friday, which has turned out to be today.  Those who attended my swap were too polite to speak up about my error!  Just goes to show how in touch I really am with consumerism.  In any case, I wanted to write about the experience because we had a lovely evening.

The idea of a clothing swap is to trade clothes you no longer want with other people.  The number of items you bring does not have to equal the number of items you take home.  The clothes are piled in the centre of the room, and you take what you like.  Anything that does not find a new home is donated to charity.

For our swap, I invited many people, but only a few were able to make it.  It was nice to have a small gathering.  Since there were just four of us, we could really help each other through the process of selecting clothing that looked nice on us.

When people arrived, we enjoyed some of the (ridiculously numerous) snacks that I had prepared and drank wine and homemade hard cider.  When we determined that everyone had arrived, we dumped the clothes into one large pile on my rug.  It was like a treasure hunt searching through the clothes mountain.  I tried on a lot of things, and kept several.  We each started our own ‘stash’ where we put the things that we wanted to keep.  I found some really neat things, some that I would have picked up in a shop and many things that I likely wouldn’t have even tried on otherwise!

It was a wonderful evening filled with conversations and laughter with lovely people that I’m glad to call my friends.  It was nice to choose clothes I liked without having to worry about the price tag or the environmental impact of my purchase.  For all of us, what we brought to the swap were bags of clothing we were planning to get rid of anyway.   I got rid of far more than I kept.  And what I did end up keeping were things that freshened up my wardrobe in unexpected ways!  We all enjoyed ourselves so much that we plan on having another gathering in the springtime!

How to host your own clothing swap:

  1. Set the date – if you’re trying to coordinate it with a special event day, be sure to check your calendar!
  2. Invite your friends!  I invited lots of people, but the party ended up being small.  I would say, smaller is better.  Although I’ve not hosted a large clothing swap, it might get ugly if people were fighting over the same items!
  3. Find a full length mirror to set in the shared space, near where the pile of clothes will be
  4. Create a ‘change room’ (We used my bathroom), but most people just changed in the common space.  I wore a tight tank top and just changed in front of my friends.
  5. Prepare some snacks
  6. Gather.  Explain the process.  If there are disputes over who should get what item, have a vote – the person who is voted to look the best in the item of clothing takes the prize!
  7. Have fun!!!
  8. Take remaining items to your local thrift store, so they can find a new home.




Airing the Closet

Last week was pretty crazy.  Between the flu running its course and attempting to return to regular routines, I wasn’t sure how I had managed life before the holidays.   The reality is that what last week was, was not my life at all, it was some sort of purgatory.  I feel like we’re back now.  Our band is again playing together…for the most part.  But to keep it in perspective, I feel that a few sour notes every once in a while help you to recognize beautiful music when you hear it!

I was recently mulling over how last week turned into this week.  Clearly, the hours ticked by, but what made the difference?  Why are we all of a sudden able to fall into rhythm with each other?  I always tell my children that the only person they have control over is themselves.  I took a lesson from my own advice, and I have decided (perhaps narcissistically) that the change all began with me.  I feel strongly that my mood anchors our home.  Last week, I was emotionally uncentered, which seemed to cause a distinct wobble in the spinning of our days.  I was defiantly reactive rather than responsive.  I felt the clench of old habits return, feeling overwhelmed and not knowing how to turn things around.  After some thought what ended up helping me to break free from my cycle of self-defeat was seemingly unrelated.  But systems thinking prevails, and I recognize that it was not an isolated event at all.  I spent a day cleaning my closet.

It seems like that task should have had little effect on my overall well-being, but the effects were in fact quite the opposite.  Apart from having some time to get to a project I’ve been wanting to start for a while now, the process of clearing out my darkest space was not just physical.  I got rid of many clothes that no longer fit since the arrival of my third baby and cleared out many clothes I have worn in the past that now hold only outdated purposes.  With each piece discarded, I felt a bit more free.  I believe the stories that accompanied the clothing were bagged up and sent to the basement along with them.  Looking at those items in my closet that no longer fit who I am, or my purpose in life was weighing me down in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

I used the following guiding questions I used in my culling process.  If the answer was no, the item was bagged:

1. Do I like it (fabric, colour, style)?

2. Does it fit well?

3. Is it comfortable?

4. Do I want to wear it?  (if I’ve pulled it out of the closet and put it back, that’s a clear sign I don’t!)

5. Have I worn it in the past year?

A big part of letting items go was recognizing that mistakes happen.  Time to let it all go.  I tried not to feel guilt for things which are now done.  What I can do is accept this feedback and self-regulate for the future.  I can also spend time observing and interacting with my current wardrobe.

I consider my journey to be one of holistic management.  As such, I feel I am far from finishing my closet overhaul.  I have been reading and talking to friends about the 333 project, and aim to create a minimalist wardrobe of mix and match pieces.  My approach will be a bit different than what’s offered on the websites I’ve read, since I am committed to buying used, and see the overabundance of clothing that I already own.  I am considering the building of my ‘capsule wardrobe’ phase two of the process.  For the time being, clearing my closet of what no longer fits me has left me feeling renewed.  The process so far has been like opening the windows for the first time in spring.  I have begun to air out my closets.