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Clothes Swapping: A fabulous alternative to charity shops

The other week I attended my first clothes-swapping party. I’d never been to one before and, if I’m honest, wasn’t convinced as to how much decent stuff I’d find. As much as I love them, you only find something  truly wearable in a charity shop about 10% of the time, -so what’s the chances in just one evening?

Anyway, I pulled a few swap-ables out of my drawers and rocked up in the name of research. And boy did I regret not digging out several more when I realised what an absolute treasure trove the place was. The organisers had hired the upstairs of a bar where they’d been encourgaing people to drop off garments for the past two weeks, and the result was rows and rows of actually-pretty-decent stuff. I nabbed a Karen Millen cardigan, red patent shoes and a gorgeous leaf necklace, and the night had bands, DJ’s, a DIY fashion show and seamstresses to help adjust and customise your finds. As for the pretty high standard of clothes around, my guess is that people brought along those things we all have lurking in the cupboard that fall under the too-nice-for-me-to-give-it-away-completely-but-I’m-too-disorganised-to-put-it-on-eBay banner!

It’s one of those things magazines always tell you to do – “Bored of your wardrobe? Why not get all your friends together with a bottle of wine and swap your unwanted clothes?!” – well, great idea, but do you really want to wear something all your friends know is one of their cast-offs? At a larger-scale swapping event you don’t have this problem, plus there are way more clothes to choose from. And there seems to be plenty of them around: Swishing holds regular UK events, this site lists clothes swapping groups in London, and Time Out also ran this article about the capital’s clothes-swap scene.

If you can’t find anything going on locally to you, there are websites where you can swap stuff online. Big Wardrobe  seems to have a wide selection, number one in google so I’m guessing lots of traffic and a high turnover of garments – so snap things up quickly. And What’s mine is yours is well designed and seems bit younger and cooler than the others. You can also buy stuff on there too if you don’t have anything to swap.

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About the Author

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I am a journalist living in Bristol, UK. My work has been published in The Independent, The Guardian, Dazed and Confused, Mixmag and DJ Mag, amonst others. Drop me a line at

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