Wednesday, November 19, 2008

How to Survive a Clothes Swap

[Author's note: I was rushing to get all this entry's eggs in its metaphorical basket, but had to take care of a few matters. Because of that, the photographic material that I would like to have accompany this post is waiting to be linked...on my own computer. Please check back later to see some visual guides to the words! <3corazon]

Clothing swaps have gained in popularity in more recent years in the spirit to reduce consumption of new materials while still refreshing one’s wardrobe. This is "One person's trash is another person's treasure" personified: What may be a tired garment to one is a brand new piece to another.

Events like the Swap-O-Rama-Rama takes this concept a step further: along with the swap are DIY stations for swappers to modify their clothing on the spot, as well as DIY workshops including silkscreeners, pants/tshirts-to-tote makers, shirt pimpers show swappers how they can creatively reuse old clothes.

I've volunteered for Los Angeles' take of this event since its start, organized through the efforts of Lori Petitti and Hip Line Media. As the swapping process is much like thrifting on steroids, developing good strategy ensures a successful and productive time at a clothes swap.


Proper attire is pretty handy when rummaging through clothes. A skirt for ladies and secure men alike is ideal, allowing quick work at trying on other bottoms. Slippers (flip flops) as footwear are very handy. Tops should be worn as close to the skin as possible to try clothes on top of them and get the most accurate sense of fit without much bagginess.

Messenger-style bags that rests at your hip is very handy for quick rummaging, grabbing, and stashing. It's the closest thing humans have to having little pouches in the insides of their mouths, though not as handy but lots more stylish.

The human race wouldn't be where it is right now if not for its advanced social structure. It's rather prudent to use this skill when swapping. Being in cahoots with at least one other person is helpful in keeping an eye for things s/he may happen upon that's your style It's also handy to have another eye to let you know how a particular piece fits, looks, flatters, etc. you, which brings me to my next point:

Save the time and regret you may have from taking home impulse grabs by going through the small pile you amass through time. Try on the pieces you didn’t get a chance to before, show off your finds to your aforementioned accomplice. You can swap with others who may be editing at the same time. Return unwanteds to the pile for someone else to find. If you’re on the fence with something, you can keep it, after all…

Holding on to potential pieces isn’t bad - you may love something one day, then want to leave it the next. Come next swap, you can re-swap it to see if it can find a home with someone else. In my two years and three swaps, I’ve seen several pieces come and go and return again. There have been shirts I’ve taken from someone who wasn’t into that style, realize it’s not my style, and went to re-swap it. As it turns out, their original owner started wearing those shirts again and took them back…thus the beauty of the swap!


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