Clothing Swaps / Rants / Thrifting

How To Swap Shop Like a Pro

Let’s get ready to swap!

Clothing swap season is around the corner and I am super excited to see what gems I can collect this year! I have attended dozens and dozens of clothing swaps in the past,  and definitely have had my fair share of great finds. Some brands in my swap roster include names like Marc Jacobs, Vera Wang, James Perse, Calvin Klein, and Free People. Even though it sounds like I find these treasures effortlessly, there is definitely a method to swap shopping that will build you a stellar wardrobe without depriving fellow swappers of finding gems themselves. Here are four tips and tricks that will help make you a smarter, more fashionable, and lovable swap shopper.

1. ) No one wants unfashionable or unwearable items. We all know that bringing damaged items to a clothing swap is a big no-no, but never have I ever seen anyone follow the rule to only bring fashionable items that other people would actually want. Oftentimes when I am digging through heaps of clothing, I find random promotional shirts from company picnics, single socks, and heavily-worn bras. None of these items will work in a cute outfit and chances are that if you don’t want these items, no one else will want them either- especially the thrift stores where leftover swap items are donated. Also, it’s no fun when someone brings a lot of awesome clothes to a swap, and they leave empty-handed because you brought items to just get you in the door. So please, refrain from bringing these uncool items to a swap! Leave them at home, use them in a craft project…..or something.

Attendees at an swap I hosted last year.

Attendees at a swap that I hosted last year.

2.) Dress to undress. When you want a piece of clothing, it’s important to try it on- even if it’s free. Wearing layers upon layers of clothing to a swap inhibits swift movements, and causes you constantly guess if clothing will or will not fit. Whenever I go to swaps, I wear leggings and a tank top under my outfit so that I can quickly undress (without becoming naked), try on clothes, and continue swapping. By dressing in a way that let’s you try on clothing easier, you come out of swaps with items that you KNOW will fit and look flattering. This tactic also keeps you from taking too much at a swap, leaving your closet clean. 🙂

3.) Look at the labels. I do this at thrift stores and at swaps. You never know when that one thing that looks like it could be from Forever 21, is actually from Marc Jacobs, or Free People. I recommend that at the next swap you attend, pay attention to the labels. Although it might be a bit time consuming, it is totally worth it when you find a designer dud that everyone else has picked over. Another thing I have noticed at swaps is that designer and premium names are not the first ones to get picked up. Since people do not think first to look at labels, these items get lost in swap piles and buried quite deep.

4.) Go through what you grab. At some of the first swaps I attended, I would take heaps of cool looking threads, because it was all free. When I arrived home, I realized that half of the clothing either did not fit or was damaged.  This  left me super disappointed. My trick at swaps now is to go through everything that I have grabbed when I think I am done swapping. I try things on, inspect items for damage, and then throw unwanted items back into the swap pile. With this method, I come home with clothing that I actually want and I do not deprive other swappers of all the goods items. Seriously, take only what you want. It is never fun when you leave with a couple of okay items, and you see others leaving with truck loads of clothes that you know they will never wear.

Awaiting the commencement of a swap that I held last year.

Awaiting the commencement of a swap that I held last year.

Now swappers, go off into the world and try these tricks! I bet you that you will find some designer duds.  More importantly,  you will build a new unique and cute Spring wardrobe that actually fits you!


DC/MD/VA ladies! You can try these tactics at two swaps in March and in April,  one of which I am hosting ; )

March 30: Sip and Swap Brunch, Wonderland Ballroom- 1101 Kenyon St. NW Washington, DC, 1-4 PM, Free (5 item minimum)! This will be a fabulous event; Luri and Wilma definitely know how to swap right, and live eco-friendly. 


April 5th: Petite Punk x Katie M. x AUIAC present: SPRING CLOTHING SWAP. Kay Spiritual Basement- American University 4400 Massachusetts Ave, Washington, DC 20016. Clothing Drop-off at 12, Swap is from 1-3:30. FREE to attend! This is an event hosted by two artists (me included) who have killer wardrobes.


Swap Flyer

Swap Flyer


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One thought on “How To Swap Shop Like a Pro

  1. Pingback: Spring Fever | Goldie Wolf

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