Throwing a clothing swap with friends is frequently tossed around as a frugal way to update your wardrobe. I’ve always been very skeptical of this idea, probably because I didn’t want to come across like a cheapskate/werido to my friends. Fortunately, I have friends who are much less insecure than me who decided to invite me to participate in their clothing swap this year!
(Side note: Of course I didn’t judge my friends for organizing this. They suggested something that I thought was a great idea, but was too insecure to bring up. Lesson learned: don’t be afraid to suggest things that seem a little unconventional. Other people probably have the same ideas anyway and will be thrilled that you brought it up!)
So that was how I found myself full of good food, with a glass of wine in hand, rifling through my friends’ clothing this weekend. Everyone brought their unwanted clothing, which was spread throughout the house so that others could try on and take whatever they liked. Everything left over at the end was donated.
Before the swap, I did a wardrobe inventory to identify the clothes that I would take to the swap and to give myself some basic guidelines. My main rule for myself was that I would not take anything that I wouldn’t spend money on. I’m trying to be more organized and minimalist, so I did not want to use this as an excuse to start accumulating crap that I don’t need. I chose to focus on dresses because that was what my wardrobe inventory told me that I should look for.
So how did I do? Do you remember how I said that I don’t need any more skirts? Of course I chose a skirt. It was this lovely, hardly ever worn J. Crew skirt. It went perfectly with the shirt that I was wearing (so I knew that I would have something that I could wear with it), and it fit perfectly. Well, perfectly except that it is too long. However, I feel comfortable enough with my sewing skills to hem it myself. I’m going to put it in rotation as soon as I hem it. If I don’t wear it, it will get donated!
The second item was a casual button-down shirt. In the past I have bought button-down shirts but didn’t ever wear them. However, I noticed that I do wear button-downs if I can roll up the sleeves, if they are long enough, and if they don’t need to be ironed. The button-down at the swap met all three of my criteria and will replace a shirt that I have in my closet that is too short. I have already worn that shirt this week, so I’m confident that it will earn its spot in my closet!
I took several items to the clothing swap, so I feel great that I still had a net loss of items this weekend. I am trying to buy a little more used clothing. It’s good for my wallet and for the environment. As I have gotten older, I have noticed that my priorities have shifted some. Right now, I want to spend less on my clothing and contribute more to my student loan payments, retirement fund, and vacation savings account. Of course I would love to be able to spend more on clothing, but I realize that I don’t want to sacrifice my other goals to have a perfect wardrobe.