More for less: Clothes swapping
If you’ve got a bulging wardrobe, but not a stitch to wear, then clothes swapping could be for you. Update your outfits by trading with the general public or, as Claire Sawers tries out, with friends in your own flat
Swapping, swishing, switching and bitching, wardrobe editing; call it whatever you like. Gathering up a bin bag full of leftovers from your clothes rail (the too-small jeans, the dress bought in a sale that never quite ended up being ‘customised’ as planned, random ill advised tops from a new romantic/nu rave moment many moons ago) and trading them with a friends’ cast-offs might just provide a cheap (and by cheap, we mean free) solution to the fashion blues.
Though there are people organising mass, public events of this kind (see below), my first clothes-swapping experience was a homespun affair, limited to swapping with friends at my own Edinburgh flat. After pouring wine and draping my living room sofa and bookcases with my guests and my own no-longer-loved jumpers, skirts and bags, we were ready to get started with the rummaging. Accessories were a no-brainer - fingerless gloves, chunky scarves and art deco brooches were traded no problem, but swapping nipped-and-tucked vintage dresses, spray-on t-shirts or tiny shoes when our collective body parts covered all bases from 34inch legs to size seven feet, via B cups and E cups, proved a more delicate business. Needless to say, a swap works best when your friends not only dress in a way you like, but when they also fill out their clothes in the same places as you do.
After a bit too much attention was paid to a striped cashmere cardigan, my friend decided to withdraw it from the swap. Seeing her friends pawing it lovingly made her think twice about saying goodbye, and she ended up wearing it to work the next day. A couple of truly unlovable items ended up in a bag for the charity shop (sorry, denim ankle-length skirt, and so long, khaki fleece bodywarmer, where the hell did you guys come from anyway?), but most wardrobe outcasts found themselves a loving new home.
If you’ve already got a clothes black market going among your friends and you’re looking to open up new trade routes there are clothes swapping nights springing up as we speak, including new event Dolly Mixtures (part of the nationwide ‘swishing’ movement) at Edinburgh’s Electric Circus. The organisers ensure fair trade so head down to pick up some economical and ecological (after all, clothes-swapping is a form of recycling) new pieces.
Swishing at Dolly Mixtures, Electric Circus, Edinburgh, Thu 4 Feb. See www.swishing.org for more info. Clothes Swap night, Sofi’s Bar, Edinburgh, Tue 26 Jan. For details of free online clothes swapping go to www.swishing.co.uk, www.whatsmineisyours.com, www.bigwardrobe.com, www.iswap.co.uk or www.swapz.co.uk. To set up your own swapping event, visit www.getcrafty.com.