Saturday, January 16, 2010

Catch the Clothes Swapping Fever

We cleared out our closets. We donated. We ate. We smiled. Here's how the latest clothing swap I co-organized at work looked, and how we did it.

We made no rules.

We invited everyone through e-mail or flyer. One didn't have to donate to take something. The idea is simply to let go of things you don't want or like, and pass it on to others who will use and love them. Leftovers are bound for the Salvation Army in Chelsea and the C.A.T.S. Resale Shop.

We supplied refreshments.

All vegan and all yummy: homemade hummus made by a swap co-organizer, the rest from Trader Joe's: sparkling pomegranate juice, pita chips, brown rice marshmallow treats and cafe twist cookies.

We swapped items of the season.

These cozy warm sweaters reminded me of a Crayola crayon box!

We rejected the notion that $500 shoes (vegan or not) should be coveted when you can get adorable shoes for free.

Cuteness times two! I adore ballet flats. Sadly not my size.

We added jewelery, bags, scarves and other accessories.

That way, every shape and size could find something. Beauty comes in all forms.

A sampling of the offerings. The center and right necklace went home with me.

We included unwanted holiday gifts.

Anything from candles and body lotions to pre-packaged food items. My swap co-organizer claimed a Philosophy lotion set before I even brought it there. A closet shoe organizer was scooped up as it was being unpacked, as were two bags of Dunkin Donuts coffee. I'll be drinking this French vanilla blend in the mornings.

We gained, but we let go.

My other take-aways: a blue Banana Republic sweater (perfect for the office), an embroidered Forever 21 top, and my favorite, a gorgeous jewel-toned green dress.

Among the things I put into the universe, a black BCBG dress. I spent $100 on it at a department store when I used to have the mentality that I worked hard for my money and should "treat myself." I now realize I work hard for my money and should be wiser with how I spend it. Why spend large sums when I can acquire things for free at swaps or for minimal amounts at consignment and thrift shops?

The BCBG dress was one of those things I thought I should have in my closet, perfect for a romantic night out, and when a romantic night would arrive, I would never reach for that dress. I just didn't feel comfortable in it. That green dress, I will eagerly reach for. I think it was my reward for finally saying good-bye to the other one.

We promoted clothes as being reusable, not disposable or to be forgotten.

Last year's boyfriend jeans are now out, Good Morning America tells us, and motorcycle jeans are in. Out: green nail polish (how was that ever in?), in: gray nail polish. The list goes on and on. Who dictates these things, and why don't we want to embrace our individuality? Another "out" is green products, and "in" is green lifestyles. Well wouldn't living a green lifestyle mean not being such a mass consumer and believing in "trends" in the first place?

Nearly 40 women vowed to go without buying clothing for a year, Angela at My Year Without Spending blogged about. Read about "The Great American Apparel Diet."

We pondered at the end why so many didn't stop by to peruse the offerings.

What woman wouldn't want to look at free clothes, jewelry and bags, no strings attached? Some clothes still had tags on them, and most were in perfect condition. I'll never understand why second hand items have such a stigma, but racking up credit card debt and living beyond our means does not.

Think your new department store clothes are clean? Think again, according to this disturbing Good Morning America piece, which sent items from discount, mid-level and high-end stores for testing.

Become a swapper.

Swap kids' clothes with your PTA group. Women's clothes with your friends or co-workers. Donate the leftovers to charity. Swap books at work. Let's decide that permanently "in" are the notions of reuse, reduced consumption and financial empowerment.

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