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Revive Your Wardrobe: Clothing Swap How-To From Planet Green

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With graduation, wedding, and party season officially underway, even the most extensive summer wardrobe can start to feel a little stale — but organizing a clothing swap with your friends means updating your duds without spending a fortune. Try these tips for a successful swap to save money, time, and resources while giving yourself a whole new look.

1. Choose a theme. Make your get-together a can’t-miss event by adding a few extra touches: set out your favorite vintage china for a grown-up tea party, encourage your guests to bring extra clothes that you’ll donate to charity, or draw names and have each person design an outfit for someone else. See more ideas here.

2. Keep it fair. You’re not doing anyone a favor by throwing all the clothes together and letting everyone fight for their favorites. Have each guest hold up one piece at a time and settle disputes with a trivia game, or get enough hangers and tables to lay everything out separately and give your swappers a certain amount of time to browse before they start trying on.

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3. Set some guidelines.
We’re not suggesting that you include a list of rules with your invitation, but you should have a contingency plan for any awkward situations that might arise. Think about what to say if two guests want the same item, a giver changes her mind after a piece is chosen, a friend gets cranky that she’s swapping designer duds for generic, or if anyone’s upset about going home empty-handed. Know a good tailor? Keep the name and number nearby to convince your size 2 friend that it’s worth it to take that size 6 party dress — or, better yet, invite the tailor to attend the swap and give quotes on alterations.

For more advice, head over to Planet Green and see our articles on strategies for throwing the perfect clothing swap.

 

Roland Cartier Vintage Heels from KupAndSaucer

Freelance writer Blythe Copeland turns out tips for a sustainable lifestyle for TreeHugger and PlanetGreen.com, where she writes about DIY crafts, fashion, beauty, books, music, and more. Currently, she lives in Baltimore with her husband and two cats — but since she’s relocated to four different cities in the last three years, she spends a lot of her free time on easy (and inexpensive) decorating and sewing projects.

Have you organized any successful clothing swaps? Give us more tips in the comments below!

Vintage Clothing | How To Throw Your Own Craft Party

  • babinka1981

    babinka1981 says:

    Wonderful idea!

    3 years ago

  • StudioZen

    StudioZen says:

    This sounds so fun! I'm going to start cleaning out my closet!

    3 years ago

  • astarteearthart

    astarteearthart says:

    great idea! thanks I've been clearing out my closet for days now.

    3 years ago

  • ohbabydotcom

    ohbabydotcom says:

    GREAT ideas! lovely items : )

    3 years ago

  • mycherrytree

    mycherrytree says:

    My friend once had a swap party.It was so nice

    3 years ago

  • cloverduke

    cloverduke says:

    what a great idea!! sounds sooo cool! and i also wish my closet could look neat & in color order like the honeytree picture.

    3 years ago

  • manvsgeorge

    manvsgeorge says:

    What a great topic! There's a great clothes swap in my town (Wauwatosa, WI - outside of Milwaukee) called Swanky Swap that is run by fellow Etsian ladyjanebags. I've scored many a fabulous item there!

    3 years ago

  • simplyworn

    simplyworn says:

    very cool and fun!

    3 years ago

  • simplyworn

    simplyworn says:

    very cool and fun!

    3 years ago

  • GreenRoomStudios

    GreenRoomStudios says:

    What a great idea!!! I know many of my friends would be up for something like this... AND it's a really good excuse to have a party! Thanks for posting this!

    3 years ago

  • AMSkrafts

    AMSkrafts says:

    Great ideas! This way, everyone gets "new" clothes in exchange for unwanted items.

    3 years ago

  • Ayca

    Ayca says:

    Interesting!

    3 years ago

  • ArtisticIntentions

    ArtisticIntentions says:

    Great idea - I'm pretty sure my teen age daughters do this anyway! Can't tell you how many times they come out of their rooms wearing something that I've never seen before!!

    3 years ago

  • SimpleJoysPaperie

    SimpleJoysPaperie says:

    What a great idea!

    3 years ago

  • eatyourgreens

    eatyourgreens says:

    these are so fun! i love the idea of inviting a tailor to the party, too. i've found another great solution to gals going for the same item is to have each or all of them try on the piece, and then the rest us friends observe and vote on who we think it looks best on. it feels fair and seems to leave everyone happy!

    3 years ago

  • AZCreativeStudio

    AZCreativeStudio says:

    The Black Mini Party Prom Dress is so elegant~!

    3 years ago

  • beachglassshop

    beachglassshop says:

    thanks so much for the ideas! something I am seriously considering!

    3 years ago

  • CheekyVintageCloset

    CheekyVintageCloset says:

    great ideas, can't way to give it a try.

    3 years ago

  • Morado

    Morado says:

    fashion and tea party! fabulous combination :D

    3 years ago

  • camstudiostore

    camstudiostore says:

    interesting idea!

    3 years ago

  • funkeyfinds

    funkeyfinds says:

    the washed out colors of the first photo are amazing...I just adore vintage slips and nighties... le sigh. so romantic.

    3 years ago

  • candacejean

    candacejean says:

    Never heard of/thought of this before.. clothing swap. Now there's an idea!

    3 years ago

  • Xiefashionstudio

    Xiefashionstudio says:

    Very interesting ideas!Thank you for sharing.

    3 years ago

  • kristimcmurry

    kristimcmurry says:

    Clothing swaps are THE BEST! I've two in the last couple of months and got some amazing stuff. We actually included accessories, and I ended up going with home with 4 new (amazing) purses at one of them. The second one was in a friend's dorm room and we sort of turned it into a fashion show. It was loads of fun!

    3 years ago

  • SugarFlower

    SugarFlower says:

    Lovely idea!

    3 years ago

  • YellowDoorCreations

    YellowDoorCreations says:

    What a great post! Guess who has an idea for her next b-day party?

    3 years ago

  • YellowDoorCreations

    YellowDoorCreations says:

    Wonderful post! Guess who has an idea for her next b-day party?

    3 years ago

  • JustBakin

    JustBakin says:

    Would be great with some cocktails and records :)

    3 years ago

  • PeekoApparel

    PeekoApparel says:

    CUTE! i love this idea! I desperately need to do something similar myself!

    3 years ago

  • grimmandgrete

    grimmandgrete says:

    What a great way to bring in the summer season....nice idea! Thanks

    3 years ago

  • paperholiday

    paperholiday says:

    What a great idea, thanks!

    3 years ago

  • honeytree

    honeytree says:

    I love clothing swaps ! they are so much fun, great new ideas here too ! Thank you for including my photo !!

    3 years ago

  • RainyPenguinVintage

    RainyPenguinVintage says:

    I hosted a clothing swap at my house last year and it went super well. Everyone went home with great new clothes and we had lots of fun drinking margaritas while trying on clothes. It was great. In Chicago, by the way there is an event once a year called Swap-o-rama-rama, which is actually a GIANT clothing swap with tons of participants. I went last year and got lots of great things. I think these happen in several different cities in the U.S. Maybe it is something that could become more common? http://web.mac.com/katie.hawkey/Swap-O-Rama-Rama/Home.html Jeanne

    3 years ago

  • VibrantStyles

    VibrantStyles says:

    Wow! Never thought of this. I always throw away good clothing with tags still on them. Good idea!

    3 years ago

  • Patricia1894

    Patricia1894 says:

    Ooh how fabulous, I've never had a clothes swap before, but after reading this, I'm feeling cocktails, vintage tunes, and an awesome swap party. Thanks for sharing your ideas :) xoxo

    3 years ago

  • akcArt

    akcArt says:

    Super idea, I always think I'll wear a particular item, and so I keep it, and then it sits for another year! UGH

    3 years ago

  • lovelygifts

    lovelygifts says:

    Great ideas!

    3 years ago

  • VintiqueLa

    VintiqueLa says:

    We had our swap party featured on Vainglorious from Threadbanger, check it out, it was lots of fun! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiDPALHjvCo

    3 years ago

  • HelloShoes

    HelloShoes says:

    Love that idea. I just made a few of my old skirts into doll clothes for my daughter.

    3 years ago

  • jewellerytreasures

    jewellerytreasures says:

    love the vintage secretary dress

    3 years ago

  • NakedBeautyJewelry

    NakedBeautyJewelry says:

    Neat stuff

    3 years ago

  • NakedBeautyJewelry

    NakedBeautyJewelry says:

    neat stuff

    3 years ago

  • paramountvintage

    paramountvintage says:

    i absolutely love the idea of a clothing swap. ps. i'm always willing to trade clothing for other items on etsy. so... just ask!

    3 years ago

  • ikabags

    ikabags says:

    Love that idea ! Thanks !

    3 years ago

  • SatinandBirch

    SatinandBirch says:

    I keep giving things away, but my closet still looks full :_

    3 years ago

  • juubie

    juubie says:

    I just hosted a swap party last weekend - it was SO much fun!! Each and every girl there decided they would like to throw their own party - this could really turn out to be a great way to fill out my pretty sparse closet! Also - I found lots of wool sweaters to re~purpose - just sayin' for all those creative etsians!

    3 years ago

  • LovinglyVintage

    LovinglyVintage says:

    Omg! Love this idea. Thanks so much for sharing.

    3 years ago

  • LuRuUniques

    LuRuUniques says:

    Sounds Great. Thanks for the idea.

    3 years ago

  • dollybirdboutique

    dollybirdboutique says:

    good idea I love swapping parties x

    3 years ago

  • AmorPuro

    AmorPuro says:

    wonderful idea. closet cleaning time!

    3 years ago

  • MariesVintage

    MariesVintage says:

    This sounds like so much fun!

    3 years ago

  • ScrapHappyLyrebird

    ScrapHappyLyrebird says:

    I've never heard of this but it sounds like it could be a lot of fun, thanks!

    3 years ago

  • becktesch

    becktesch says:

    This is awesome! I have a group of women I've been itching to have an event with. This is perfect! Thaks!

    3 years ago

  • KiriMothDesigns

    KiriMothDesigns says:

    This is a great idea. I usually end up taking my unwanted clothing to Goodwill, but this would be a fun alternative!

    3 years ago

  • BoringSidney

    BoringSidney says:

    Me and my friends did this twice a year for years, that was a long time ago! I don't have any more girlfriends to do this with :(

    3 years ago

  • peppermintpink

    peppermintpink says:

    I have heard of swap parties a few years ago, but not with as many ideas, themes as you have listed here and in the article. That is excellent!

    3 years ago

  • metroretrovintage

    metroretrovintage says:

    This is such a great article! I still keep a clothing swap with a few friends -- especially as we gain and loose weight, we tend to pass around the same 'skinny' and 'fat' jeans, lol, among other items.

    3 years ago

  • emberatia

    emberatia says:

    i had one of these when i moved to my new town a few years back, it was totally overwhelming, i had no idea that it would be so BIG! Although i laid a few ground rules, they got broken, the rules were, nothing that cant be used or no one would possibly want and that people take home or donated what was left behind, i ended up with alot of garbage bags filled with clothing that was completely unusable, which we donated, but would have preferred that we werent left with so much clean up. We had so many clothes that we couldnt move in the lounge room, piled almost to our heads!!

    3 years ago

  • recycledwares

    recycledwares says:

    what a wonderful idea - that sounds like so much fun.

    3 years ago

  • craftpile

    craftpile says:

    great idea!

    3 years ago

  • elizabethjennings

    elizabethjennings says:

    My friends and I had a huge swap a few months ago. It was great! We all had new clothes for months and the leftovers went to a local women's shelter.

    3 years ago

  • VintageMarketPlace

    VintageMarketPlace says:

    My friends just did this and it went over so good. Everyone goes home with all new items without spending a dime. The host even had drinks and apps to munch on while shopping

    3 years ago

  • styleforlife

    styleforlife says:

    Love your ideas, amazing! XX Emily from EL Vintage

    3 years ago

  • vintagemimosette

    vintagemimosette says:

    This sounds like so much fun. BTW, online swaps are fun also!

    3 years ago

  • GroundCherry

    GroundCherry says:

    Did one last winter and it went reasonably well-- but better for those of us who were smaller and able to take things that could be altered down a size or two. Extras went to the local charity shop. Wine was drunk, fun was had, and I got jeans and sweaters for two years.

    3 years ago

  • Tarapparel

    Tarapparel says:

    great idea! and great advice!

    3 years ago

  • DolineBlochDesigns

    DolineBlochDesigns says:

    I swap clothes with a few friends. It's fun! :)

    3 years ago

  • BambuEarth

    BambuEarth says:

    I love this, my friends and co workers get together and do this about 2-3 times a year, it's so much fun. Next time we will be doing a theme... maybe a "lacy" theme. It's so much fun! :) I even posted it on my blog a few weeks back. It's been a staple since I've vowed to purchase nothing new for the year of 2010. ♥

    3 years ago

  • GardenAngels

    GardenAngels says:

    OMG there is a Swap-O-Rama-Rama tomorrow here in SomervillE !!! OMG< OMG< OMG.............!!! So cool.

    3 years ago

  • seaoats

    seaoats says:

    love this idea!

    3 years ago

  • PinkMoustache

    PinkMoustache says:

    how fun!

    3 years ago

  • hitmydreamyeyes

    hitmydreamyeyes says:

    cool! i love the idea.

    3 years ago

  • hankietankie

    hankietankie says:

    another popular way to recycle here in portland too... sometimes i bring my extra 'oops' pile of tank tops! XOX

    3 years ago

  • MissMartys

    MissMartys says:

    Wow! I wanna try this too. I would love to host one. I could donate so many goodies to the mix.

    3 years ago

  • VelveteenHabbit

    VelveteenHabbit says:

    LOVE all the recycled textures!!!

    3 years ago

  • julessabjewelry

    julessabjewelry says:

    This is a wonderful idea! I hadn't thought to swap with friends!

    3 years ago

  • gretchenmist

    gretchenmist says:

    a really great idea, especially for items that would only get worn once or twice :)

    3 years ago

  • LoneGooseTrading

    LoneGooseTrading says:

    This is a really great idea... Love it!

    3 years ago

  • TopazTurtle

    TopazTurtle says:

    Cool article!

    3 years ago

  • wallpusher

    wallpusher says:

    Been waiting for this day to come, if anyone wants to do a swap in 01938 area, I've got some great stuff I'd love to swap!

    3 years ago

  • jkldesign

    jkldesign says:

    I have been meaning to do that, a really good idea!!

    3 years ago

  • greengirlieusa

    greengirlieusa says:

    That sounds so fun!!!

    3 years ago

  • chasedreams

    chasedreams says:

    I love unique green ideas!

    3 years ago

  • greengirlieusa

    greengirlieusa says:

    That sounds so fun!!!

    3 years ago

  • bhangtiez

    bhangtiez says:

    I love clothing swaps! What a great idea for heading into summer weather and getting rid of winter duds too!

    3 years ago

  • windupgirl

    windupgirl says:

    i'm so glad an article was written on this! i've held two "frock swaps" and they were a smashing success! so fun, and earth-friendly with the bonus of new clothes♥♥

    3 years ago

  • BirdsChasingBugs

    BirdsChasingBugs says:

    This article was great. I have been trying to get some girlfriends together to swap threads for a while, but none has been successful. A fantastic bonus is that one of my items is tagged in the article. That's a first for my shop, that I know of. Thank you so much! I'm going to try to organize yet another swap!

    3 years ago

  • redemptionart

    redemptionart says:

    Glad you posted this, great subject and motivation! I so love clothes exchanges...my gf's annual exchange is called the "Ditch & Switch"...half dressed ladies running around the house...too fun!

    3 years ago

  • soniasan

    soniasan says:

    :OO really great idea!!

    3 years ago

  • barrofsoap

    barrofsoap says:

    this is a totally awesome idea! I am going to get with my daughter and have one for the teenage girls. It will be such a savings and I bet they have a blast :)

    3 years ago

  • carlossantiago

    carlossantiago says:

    how fun! I wonder if guys would do that as well... I would.

    3 years ago

  • thestellabluegallery

    thestellabluegallery says:

    wonderful idea! thanks for giving us more eco-friendly ideas!

    3 years ago

  • romanfloralsandmore

    romanfloralsandmore says:

    what a great idea...thank's

    3 years ago

  • CityChicCountryMouse

    CityChicCountryMouse says:

    this would be so muchfun! I've always wanted to host one, thanks for reminding me! It would be fun for household items too.

    3 years ago

  • BabasBabies

    BabasBabies says:

    great idea... and it sounds like a lot of fun!

    3 years ago

  • mache23

    mache23 says:

    I've never heard of that before...I know one of my friends would get mad at me when I gave clothes away without letting her go through them first...I know she'd be interested in a party like that!

    3 years ago

  • nowonder

    nowonder says:

    great idea!

    3 years ago

  • saintesmariesjewelry

    saintesmariesjewelry says:

    great idea, someone´s trash can be someone else´s treasure.. especially when stuff doesn´t fit anymore..

    3 years ago

  • undermyfeet

    undermyfeet says:

    Very interesting idea!

    3 years ago

  • LindseyCormier

    LindseyCormier says:

    cool ideas!

    3 years ago

  • Lawlessfairy

    Lawlessfairy says:

    Great idea! Need to try it ! Thank you!

    3 years ago

  • GatheringSplendor

    GatheringSplendor says:

    Couple this with an afternoon lunch and I can see a great time being had by all--hey--lets add a fashion show to the mix.

    3 years ago

  • sewlola

    sewlola says:

    I love slips collection picture and the gorgeous dress on the Irish market picture!

    3 years ago

  • filofashion

    filofashion says:

    Great idea !!!

    3 years ago

  • trinityrocks

    trinityrocks says:

    Excellent idea!

    3 years ago

  • LoopApparel

    LoopApparel says:

    My friends and I have a clothing exchange twice a year. Usually Winter and summer. I wait until everyone has chosen their goods and then take the rest home to use as creative fodder. I hardly ever have to buy fabric, it's great!

    3 years ago

  • yoshibearstudio

    yoshibearstudio says:

    A great and guilt-free way for us women (and men?) to recycle and bring back to life, clothing that would have otherwise been only a lifeless rag deep in the depths of our wardrobe floors and crevices.. I LOVE it!!

    3 years ago

  • sofisticata

    sofisticata says:

    I read an article about this recently on a magazine, I think is a great idea ;)

    3 years ago

  • MalindasBeadDesigns

    MalindasBeadDesigns says:

    Thank you for the inspiration.

    3 years ago

  • StylesbyHolly

    StylesbyHolly says:

    I've heard of this before but the ideas here are so helpful. I would love the opportunity to do this with my friends, maybe that will be my next mission!

    3 years ago

  • 2treasurehunt

    2treasurehunt says:

    GatheringSplender is right a fashion show/swap party sounds stupendous! :)

    3 years ago

  • freerangeart

    freerangeart says:

    Have been to about three of these, turned out great! Everyone brings a little something to eat and drink. The swaps also included jewelry, scarves and all kinds of accessories, even some mens clothing popped up. Someone was on hand to take photos and a make shift fashion show always seems to be born at these things. These swaps also give license to everyone to wear someone else' clothing with out feeling peevish about it. Invite those of different age groups and you have instant fun as the fashion will span the ages!

    3 years ago

  • electricbluebird

    electricbluebird says:

    I love the picture of the slips at the top. For a second, I thought it was my closet! We are having a clothing swap soon. Great ideas!

    3 years ago

  • bunnygoods

    bunnygoods says:

    i find myself already compiling a guest list and fortunately, i happen to have some seriously fashionable friends. ;) brilliant idea!

    3 years ago

  • ohbuckets

    ohbuckets says:

    had read about this a few months back - love it! a suggestion I had seen: give each person a few clothespins with either their name or distinct decor on each...they can "clip" the items they like as they browse...when everyone is done if an item has more than one clothespin, have a way (set up in advance) to decide who should get the item...

    3 years ago

  • mfmapparel

    mfmapparel says:

    We did an all school clothing shop last year with large tables and racks in our student center. It was great!

    3 years ago

  • RomanceCatsAndWhimsy

    RomanceCatsAndWhimsy says:

    What a fantastic idea -- thank you for the great article and inspiration.

    3 years ago

  • TrashcanTreasures1

    TrashcanTreasures1 says:

    This is an excellent idea! I have friends that are drastically different sizes (2-20) so it could be a challenge but I am looking forward to trying.

    3 years ago

  • SaraBJewelry

    SaraBJewelry says:

    what a great idea! i would love to do this sometime! thanks for the inspiration!

    3 years ago

  • DiamondSand

    DiamondSand says:

    Great idea. Thanks for sharing.

    3 years ago

  • ktanne

    ktanne says:

    Thanks for the great idea! I can see this becoming very popular quite easily. It just takes some initiative to get the ball rolling :)

    3 years ago

  • Chandeluse

    Chandeluse says:

    Great idea, hard finding friends my size.... but cool!

    3 years ago

  • CrazyAngelArt

    CrazyAngelArt says:

    my daughter had a "New to You" party a few months ago...same concept...her and a group of her friends brought all the clothes, shoes, purses, etc. that they were tired of to our house and they had so much fun. Everyone left with a new wardrobe without spending any money. The party was such a success she plans to have another one later in the summer before school starts...so everyone can start school with a "New to You" wardrobe...

    3 years ago

  • onviewartgallery

    onviewartgallery says:

    Inspiring ideas.

    3 years ago

  • VeloNoir

    VeloNoir says:

    Clothing swaps are always a great idea! I for one, have done something like this amongst close friends and family. Every now and then, my mom, sister, and I would look through our clothes and accessories then pick out what we like. It's always nice to end with something "new" without spending any money!

    3 years ago

  • hepburnco

    hepburnco says:

    Very interesting idea! Like a tupperware party for the noughties (if that's what we're calling this decade^^)

    3 years ago

  • walkinglover

    walkinglover says:

    A group of my co-workers and I used to do this at an eco-friendly clothing company when I worked there are few years ago. We used to also make "blind bags" that had clothes in specific sizes and swap them. It made it feel more like xmas. :) You can also swap clothes, bags and shoes online at places like http://www.shoeswappers.com. Outside of a few things that I wouldn't dare swap (if you know what I mean), I haven't bought any new clothes or shoes for almost a year. Everything I have has been swapped or freecycled.

    3 years ago

  • SundayTreasures

    SundayTreasures says:

    what's not to love? feminine and so sexy, isn't that what every woman loves? gorgeous picks!

    3 years ago

  • reneeanne

    reneeanne says:

    This sounds like an amazing idea!!! Thanks! :D

    3 years ago

  • olive34

    olive34 says:

    nice! www.etsy.com/shop/olive34

    3 years ago

  • EZarchitecture

    EZarchitecture says:

    Branching off of the wardrobe personalization ideas, we thought it'll be fun to do the same for the closet as well. Can we find a theme for your closet? Join us on our DreamCloset Project! http://www.ezarchitecture.com/blog/episode-9-of-ezarchitecture-podcast-the-dream-closet-project-1/

    3 years ago

  • lucillejean

    lucillejean says:

    A clothing swap is such a great idea! Many of my friends are all different shapes and sizes, so it can be a little tricky. But I've been getting hand-me-ups from my little sister for years and work at Platos Closet (a used clothing store) so I am always up for new-to-me clothes :)

    3 years ago

  • msquaredj

    msquaredj says:

    sounds great!

    3 years ago