More Not Quite New – Clothes Exchanges

Posted by Jill Chivers in My Story

 Howdie all and welcome to blog #53. Most of you know that I started writing this blog in December 2009 as a way of chronicling my journey and expressing the thoughts and feelings that I experienced as I undertook to have my year without clothes shopping.Sometimes I talk about the emotional side of that ride – like the last two blog postings (and very cleverly weaving in The Princess Bride, too – not bad huh?). Other times I focus on more practical stuff, like mix’n’matching, or colour. And then other times I just wax lyrical about what’s on my mind, like what do clothes mean? and the fashion industry.

Today I’d like to pick up something we talked about in blog #41. We talked then about not-quite-new shopping and the three ways you can shop for clothes without paying full price:
1. op shopping
2. vintage
3. consignment
Almost as soon as I’d finished that posting, I knew there was at least one other category that I’d left out — clothing exchanges. This is where you get to inject something new and fabulous into your own wardrobe, and you get to clear something unwanted and fabulous (for someone else) out of your wardrobe. And no money changes hands!

There are a number of organised clothing exchanges around, and I’ll get to them in a sec. Worth noting that you can exchange clothes without any help of course. But it has a 7.6 technical difficulty because the people you are exchanging clothing with:

  • need to be the same size as you. Not nearly the same size or could be the same size if some form of surgical procedure were performed. No. The same size you are now. Including your foot size. Having swapped shoes that were nearly my size, I can talk from experience. I had greater sympathy for the foot bound Chinese women after walking in those shoes from the house to the car.
  • need to have a similar style to you. If you are boho-chic, and they are corporate traditional, it could be a challenge to find items that you’ll love and will represent something of who you are in each other’s gear.
  • need to have similar colouring to you. Ok, some of you may not adopt the whole colour system, that’s fine. But you at least have watched those “worst Oscars dresses” fashion autopsies where Nicole Kidman is wearing dark cobalt blue and she looks like she needs a blood transfusion, and Halle Berry is wearing nude apricot and looks like she hasn’t slept for weeks with dark circles under her eyes. So, you’ll appreciate that colour makes some difference. If you are Goldilocks and she’s Sleeping Beauty, it could be hard to find something that actually looks good on you in each other’s wardrobe
  • need to have a similar attitude and agreement on what “price” your items are worth. So you want to swap a bunch of Kooki singlets and she has a Dolce & Gabanna jacket and that seems fair to you but grossly unbalanced to her. You need to get your guidelines straight on what’s worth what, keeping in mind not only the style of item, whether its “branded” or not, but its condition and style.

If all this seems far to freakin’ hard, then you might want to consider a clothing exchange that’s already in operation. You know, people who do this either as a full time hobby or a full time job and have learned the ropes. Here are a few I know about or have spent 80 seconds on Google researching:

Clothing Exchange (dotcomdotau) who run exchanges in Australia’s largest cities, and Adelaide.

Swap! Not Shop! Which is based in the USA and runs a big swap event twice a year and also has some helpful blog posts like How to Swap (no wives required)

There’s bound to be more people out there organising swaps. If you know of any, please be in touch and let me know, and I’ll post again about this.

One last thing on this before I finish up this post, dear reader. Do I reckon this is a breach of the Challenges rules, to not go clothes shopping? You know, I’m not sure. It doesn’t cost anything, so that’s a vote in the “it’s ok” basket. But then it does bring something new into your wardrobe, and one of the things I’ve found so valuable these last nearly 7 months is truly “shopping my wardrobe” and not having any new items. Being more creative with combining what I have, rather than itching for something new. So, I’m undecided. Either way, clothes swaps are eco-friendly and an outstanding way to bring something new into your wardrobe without buying new. Right?

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