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Shop for Free! How to Host a Clothing Exchange

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Love to shop, but feeling a little low on cash? A clothing exchange is a fun way to shop your friends' closets for free! Plus, you can declutter your closet while getting some new goods. We've got six quick tips for successful clothes swapping.

Plan ahead

As with any party or get-together, you'll want to do a little planning to make your swap sing. Decide if you'll have a theme for the swap (women only, co-ed, fancy dress, kids' clothes, etc.) and then decide who to invite. Send out invitations at least two weeks in advance to give your friends time to cull their closets. And pick a space that will have plenty of room to spread out and decide if you'll be serving snacks and drinks (in a different room from the clothes, of course!).

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Agree on rules

It's a good idea to send some general guidelines with your invitations. An important one is that everything be freshly washed and in great condition—no holes or stains allowed. Look to your favorite consignment store's website for some idea of how they choose what to sell. Maybe you and your friends want to focus on brand names, or only things for the current season, etc.

Gather supplies

Decide how you're going to organize your swap. Card tables can be useful for holding folded items, accessories and shoes. You can rent rolling wardrobe racks, or DIY with two chairs and a broom handle. Masking tape or painters tape and markers make fast labels if you want to mark sizes, etc. Have upcycled shopping bags or trash bags available for people to take home their booty. You might hang a curtain in a corner or have a bathroom or room designated as your fitting room. And get together as many full-length mirrors as you can lay hands on.


You can ask your friends to drop off their goodies ahead of time, if you like, so that you can do all the sorting and labeling before the party starts—or have everyone sort as soon as they arrive. To have the most fun, try to set up your space like a shop, with attractive displays of clothes and accessories.

Enlist a volunteer to help you take whatever is left at the end of the swap to your local Goodwill, Salvation Army, or other charity drop-off.

image by Dear, max

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