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ClosetOrganize a Clothes Swap
Old clothes shouldn't die. They should find new life with a proud new owner. In eight steps, organize a clothes swap with friends or neighbors - clearing out your closet or drawers, and finding a new wardrobe for yourself.
We, along with about a half-dozen other friends, are clothes swappers. We meet every so often with our bags of unwanted clothing after a spring (or fall) cleaning frenzy to, well, swap clothing. I'm not sure when this ritual started - I was invited to a clothes swap two years ago after a friend (who probably realized we were about the same dress size) invited me to a clothes swap she organized at her house.
At first, I was skeptical on what kind of clothing I could get, and, frankly, a bit embarrassed over the hopeless clothes I lugged along that nobody in their right mind would want.
But, what ensued was a cross between a slumber party and an open fitting room at Filene's Basement. There were about 8 of us at my first clothes swap. Veteran clothes- swappers immediately told us to dump our goods on the bed, and dig in. It was finder's keepers - but you had to try it on first! One hand pulled out my awful maroon wool dress (that previously belonged to my mother-in-law and fit too snug and short on me). I had to admit it was mine. It was gingerly picked up by a petite woman who I only knew in passing. Was she just trying to humor me by trying it on? When she emerged from the bathroom it was like was tailor-designed just for her. It was snug in all the right places; the hem hit just above the knee, where it should have. "I'll take it," she said and quietly folded it up into a growing pile she was gathering at her feet.
Wow. Hey, maybe this wasn't so bad after all! One woman threw a very loud flowered dress at me. "This is YOU," she said. Huh? Me, who wears muted greens, grays and black? It was not a dress I would ever try on, never mind wear. But, with prodding from the group, I did try it on and sheepishly modeled it. Claps, cheers. "Take it!" "Oh, it IS you!" I laughed and kept it, I mean, what did I have to lose? (I've since worn it several times. A special notice to all my friend swappers: I'm now tired of it and it will emerge again at our next clothes swap).
Which brings me to the point of a clothes swap. There is nothing to lose! I have come home with the most amazing clothing that I could not believe women would want to part with: a genuine pea coat, an Alpaca sweater, t-shirts & turtlenecks in every color, an elegant purple dress. The clothing also carries a special significance. While casually flinging a silk scarf around my neck, the owner of the article said it used to belong to her mother. I think of the history of that scarf whenever I wear it. In turn, I often see my clothing on friends. "Hey, that's mine!" I'll say jokingly. "But it looks better on you," I add, sincerely.
After the end of 2 or 3 hours, the group of clothes swappers reaches the end of the pile on the bed. There is an unbelievably deep sense of satisfaction knowing that your clothing has found a new - and appreciative - owner. And, you leave with a pile of clothes that you want to wear! And it's free!
So before you dump your clothes in the Goodwill box, think of your friends!
How to organize a successful clothes swap:
Marcia Passos Duffy is a freelance writer and the publisher/editor of The Heart of New England online magazine and weekly e-newsletter www.theheartofnewengland.com, a publication that celebrates the unique character of the northern New England states of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. To subscribe to her free weekly e-newsletter on bed & breakfast deals, New England thrifty tips, contests, and gardening reminders, simply send a blank email to