One woman's trash is another's sparkly t-shirt.


Create space in your wardrobe to make room for new clothes. Free clothes. What’s not to love about that genius concept?

That’s what we thought, which is why we held our very first Mamamia office clothes swap last week. In short, it was almost like finding out Ryan Gosling has become a gynaecologist and HE HAS A FREE APPOINTMENT ON FRIDAY NIGHT.

Here’s how it went down:

We can definitely recommend you giving a clothes swap a go with your favourite group of women (it doesn’t have to be a workplace, think mother’s groups, book clubs, wherever you see women on a regular basis). Here’s how to do it:

What to bring: Almost anything – shoes, bags, clothes… Be a little discerning though and make sure you’re bringing a quality item that is clean. That faded black t-shirt that only cost you $10 in the 2010 sales could probably find a happier home in a charity bin.

What you get: Did we mention free clothes? But remember to play fair – fashion is like its own currency. A clothes swap has a code of conduct not dissimilar to a dinner party (or the commenting rules here on Mamamia y’all). Donating a pair of trainers probably doesn’t justify you snapping up the designer cocktail dress everyone is eyeing off. And it won’t earn you any points with your girlfriends/colleagues. Be generous and receive generously.

How to do it: We held ours at the office but anywhere there is a large amount of oestrogen flying around will work. As Confucious says ‘more-people-means-more-clothes’ (not really but hey) so get busy inviting. You will want a wide range of sizes and personal styles to keep everyone happy. Remember you’re playing for keeps. No givesy-backesy. So think about what you donate and make sure you’re truly ready to break up with it.

According to Jezebel, not all clothing swaps go so well thought. So watch out for any of these:

The shock swap:

“I had just moved to New York and didn’t know a lot of people; I was also pretty broke so when a friend-of-a-friend told em about this clothing swap, it sounded great. But when I got there, every single girl – literally all of them – was like a size triple zero. There was no way I was going to fit into any of this stuff, and they all looked at me with pity. Also, all their things were really nice – like, designer labels – and no one was touching my three-year-old Target and H&M – even if they could have fit into it. I felt so bad leaving that place.”

The cut-throat swap:

“My friends decided to organize a clothing swap, which sounded good, since I had some stuff piling up and I wanted to give friends first dibs before I brought it to the GoodWill. Also, a bunch of us are around the same size, so we all knew we could probably come away with something. I was really psyched that this one friend, Julie, was going to be there since she has amazing style and lots of cool vintage stuff she’s found at thrift stores. When I got there, though, I saw that everyone had the same idea. We were all looking at Julie’s pile covetously. Things quickly got really competitive-like, people jumping in to grab things.

The pity swap:

“Some of my coworkers organized a clothing swap: big mistake. It was like the worst of all worlds – not friends, but not strangers either. We were all being super-polite to each other, and the pressure was on to take something from everyone, just to be collegial. The worst part was, since we all worked together, we were hyper-aware of what everybody was wearing and not wearing in the coming weeks. This one girl actually said to me, ‘I notice you haven’t worn that vest I brought to the clothing swap. That was a really expensive vest, you know.’ Result: we all walked around in these totally bizarre outfits for, like, a month, until the sensitivity had died down.”

 Have you been to a clothes swap before? What are your tips for holding one?