I attended my first clothing swap eight years ago and was immediately hooked. As I began training for my first triathlon, a woman who was retiring from triathlon competing gave me all of her running clothes. Women who had finished their pregnancies gave maternity clothes to new mothers. A woman wearing the same jean size (and length!) as me simply swapped places with me to get a new look. I got rid of clothes I wasn’t wearing and received clothes I would actually would wear. Free new wardrobe. Amazing.
Since then, I’ve hosted several successful clothing swaps. It’s entertaining to watch women encourage one another to try new looks without breaking the bank. It’s enjoyable to cling to your clothes loosely. I always bring items that I truly enjoy, knowing that others will do the same. What’s new to me is new to you! And I enjoy seeing something that doesn’t work on me turn into a perfect 10 on another woman. If you’ve never done a clothes swap, I highly recommend it. Invite a group of women to rummage through their closets for out-of-season clothing, shoes, jewelry, and accessories. Make size-appropriate piles and go to town. Donate what isn’t swapped, and repeat every year.
I’ve had a new problem after a decade of clothing swapping. I tend to take too many clothes because they are free. I’ve been slowly but steadily hoarding used clothes without even realizing it. Because I have a reputation as a swapper, people constantly offer me free clothes outside of the swapping arena. If I’m not careful enough at the swap, I end up with a bunch of good-but-not-perfect clothes. Then I become overwhelmed while looking through my overflowing closet.
To recommit to clothing simplicity, I need to redefine it as quality over quantity. For example, the other day I paid a reasonable price for a dress by a local designer at a local store. It is the perfect size, color, and style for me, and I wear it all the time. Every time I wear it, I receive numerous compliments, which encourages me to wear it more frequently. There’s nothing wrong with buying clothes to supplement my swapped wardrobe. I want to help artisans. Meanwhile, several swapped dresses that are only kind of work sit in my closet alongside others that are more than kind of work that I have forgotten about in the mounds of free clothes. If it is not truly reused, reusing does not support simplicity.
So. I’m in the process of updating my swap mentality to embrace simplicity once more. I need a makeover to commemorate the swap. My plan is to downsize and then maintain my wardrobe with less quantity and more quality, allowing me to make the most of what I have. I’m planning a swap. In preparation, I’ll try on every piece of clothing I own and keep only a strategic combination of items that I’ll wear all the time. This will be a painful process for me, but it must be completed. I have an excess of clothing.
I began clothes swapping in the hopes that my clothes would reflect my commitment to simplicity. My wardrobe is no longer simple simply because it is made up of repurposed items. Reused items are only beneficial if I use them. Less is more in this case. I’m looking for simplicity by having a smaller, smarter closet.