Want a free fashion update? Set up a swap

On Saturday, I attended a clothing swap hosted by some amazing women: @gwenbell, @srslyliz, and @sarahjbray. It was a fun social event that also benefited a great cause—all leftover clothing was donated to a women’s recovery organization. The frugal part of me was thrilled at the chance to update my wardrobe without breaking the bank. But perhaps my favorite part is that it reminded me a little bit of regifting without the guilt!

Since I am obviously a fan, I was happy to learn that clothing swaps are gaining in popularity. If there is no swap scheduled in your area, consider planning your own. Here’s how:

Get focused. The event I attended was focused on women’s fashion, but you could get creative. For example, you might benefit from swapping kids' clothing, home décor, or jewelry.

Identify fellow swappers. Who would you like to invite to the event? Any like-minded group will do. Consider girlfriends, neighbors, book club members, or your bunco group. If you want a big event, ask friends to invite friends.

Pick a spot. It’s not going to save you any money if you have to provide all of the food and drinks. Instead, ask participants to chip in a few dollars to cover costs or bring something to share. You might also consider holding the event at a location where people can buy their own food and drinks.

Set the ground rules. In your invite (online is fine!), tell people what to expect. At the very least, make sure people know that anything they bring should be in good swappable condition. If your group is full of Type-As, you can also request that each participant bring a minimum number of items to swap.

Create a sense of order. If you’ve ever been to a really great sale, you know that the shopping atmosphere can be a bit frenzied. Setting up tables according to size (small, medium, large) can help people know where to focus their hunt. Bring old grocery bags so that people can easily carry their finds.

Finally, when planning a swap, try not to stress too much about the details. Half (or more) of the purpose is to have fun!

Scenes from Saturday's swap

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.