Saving money on clothes can be hard, especially when the seasons change and you pull out the same old stuff you wore last year. Sigh…

So what’s a broke gal to do when she wants to freshen up her wardrobe but it’s not in the budget?  CLOTHES SWAP!

We all have clothes that we don’t wear, that don’t fit, or that we just don’t think are “us” anymore. I keep a bag in my closet for all the items I try on for the 20th time and realize they still don’t fit or I really don’t like them anymore. Then, every few months my friends and I plan a clothes swap.  We send out an Evite and invite our friends to bring a bag of their own unwanted clothes.  We get together and swap the items.  Not only is it a ton of fun, but it’s a great way to clean out your closet and bring home free clothes!

Here are some tips for planning a clothes swap of your own:

1. Make a party out of swapping! Plan a brunch and ask everyone to sign up to bring something tasty using a signup sheet on Evite. Take a silly photo at the end of the night of the worst/craziest outfit you can each put together with the unclaimed clothes. Stipulation: no posting on Facebook!

2. Invite people who are around the same size as each other. It’s really embarrassing when someone comes who cannot fit into anything at the swap. No need to be exclusionary, but keep this in mind and invite at least a few people of the same sizes.

3. Clear a space. Push back furniture to make space for everyone to walk around.  Clear off tables and couches to lay out clothes.

4. Organize clothing by type. By size may also be a secondary organizational tool, but because you may have a large variety of sizes and they fluctuate so much between brands, organizing by type is much easier.  Just encourage everyone to try things on before taking.

5. Play nice. Remember, you are adults and these are your friends. Don't fight over clothes or take it personally if someone doesn't take home something you brought.

6. Just because it's free doesn't mean you have to take it home. If it doesn't fit, you probably won't wear it, or if you have 3 other black skirts already, leave it.

7. Remember modesty. Depending on how well you all know each other, you may choose to strip down to your undies and try items on right then and there. Most of the swaps that I have been to are like that. But not everyone may be comfortable with this idea, so create a space for trying on clothes which is private; for example, a sheet or curtain covering a corner or an extra bedroom.

8. Have a full length mirror, or two, handy. Seems logical but can be easily overlooked.

9. Think outside the season. Sure, it may not be cold enough to wear it now but that great sweater or those fleece pajamas would be awesome in January! Plan ahead and pick up items you may not wear that season.  This way you’ll have new clothes all year round!

10. Have a charitable plan for the leftovers. My parents’ church has an annual rummage sale to which we donate the non-swapped clothes.  The proceeds of the sale benefit the church.  There are many organizations, just like this, that would be glad to receive the clothes. My friend works at a local psychiatric hospital, and she took some of the leftover clothes to donate to the hospital for patients in need.

My friends and I had an extremely fun swap this weekend. I got a bag full of clothes including: a thermal top and leggings (for pajamas), a black Old Navy hoodie, a cute flower printed summer top, a sexy pair of Guess high heels, a white pencil skirt, and a cream cable knit hat that’ll be perfect for this winter!

In fact, I swap so much I find that most outfits I wear have at least one “swapped” piece. It’s a great way to grow your closet and get new clothes without spending a dime! There's nothing better than keeping within your budget and raking in the compliments on your "new" clothes.

This has been a guest post by Alice from Silver Spring, MD
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