How to host a clothing swap

One of the best and easiest ways to save money on clothes is to host a clothing swap. If you have the space, time and a bunch of style savvy pals, we say organize an afternoon soiree where you and your BFFs sort through each other’s fashionable castoffs and trade the day away until you have what feels like a whole new wardrobe. We’ve put together a few tips for pulling off a successful clothing swap.

Friends having clothing swap


First things first — you’re going to have to send out invitations (don’t worry about paper, evites are fine). Sure, you could just send out a mass email or a bunch of texts, but we think it’s a good idea to take your clothing swap seriously. Plus most email invites let you keep track of who’s coming so you know how many guests to expect. Most importantly, give your friends enough advance notice so they have time to go through their closets and grab anything they no longer wear.

Getting organized

Think about what type of swap you want to have. There are several options to consider and once you decide, ensure that the details of what each person should bring are in the invitation or send a separate note to everyone who RSVPs explaining the details.

  • Pre-season swap: Everyone wants something new to wear at the beginning of a new season. So if you decide to have one now, it would be for fall clothing so you’re prepared once summer comes to a close.
  • Accessories swap: As the name suggests, this type of swap is just for accessories – shoes, hats, jewelry, bags and belts. If you have a lot of people coming, each with tons of accessories, it’s easier to omit clothing to minimize chaos. You can also narrow it down even further and even just do a shoe or purse swap.
  • Everything swap: If you don’t want to limit your swap, simply let people know they can bring whatever they want – from clothes to accessories.
  • Fancy frock swap: If there are lots of events coming up or if it’s post-wedding season and everyone is overrun with dresses they wore to weddings, have a swap that allows guests to trade some of their semi-formal styles.

Rules of engagement

Before the main event, either in the invitation or in a pre-swap email to whoever is coming, make it known that no one should be bringing anything that is stained, ripped, torn or otherwise unable to be worn. The swap isn’t meant as a place to unload your castoffs – it’s a way to find new things to wear without spending any money. You may be sick of the items you’re bringing, but as long as they’re in good condition, someone else might fall in love with what you brought. Make sure guests know the rules before they start looking for items to bring.


You can’t have a party without refreshments. We suggest serving something light and effervescent such as mimosas or sparkling wine, or for anyone who prefers not to drink, lemonade mixed with sparkling water. Since swapping can be hard work, you’ll need to provide some snacks. Veggies and dip, hummus and crackers, a fruit platter and some bite-size desserts (mini brownies) are all simple but tasty ways to keep your swappers satiated.

Swapping strategies

To avoid chaos and keep things organized, here are a few more things to consider:

  • Once guests arrive, have a system for dividing clothes – by size, color or item. This will make the swap much easier.
  • Have a designated room or area for trying clothes on and a few full-length mirrors.
  • Anything that’s left over (that people don’t want to take home) can be donated to a charity.

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