Want New Duds, But Lack Dough? Swap!

Swap parties are the hottest trend sweeping the country, and women nationwide are gathering to share and shop. It’s not only a cost effective way to reinvent your style, but a glamorous way to go green! Here in NYC, I hosted a swap party to demonstrate just how simple it is to organize, and how much fun it can be. But beyond having your own private party, the Internet is helping turn this trend into a worldwide phenomenon — making it easy to trade with women in your hometown and beyond. Bobbie Thomas, TODAY style editor and author of the Buzz column for In Touch Weekly, shows you not only how to host a style swap party, but how to swap with women across America.

Be the hostess with the mostest
To recap what was posted on TODAY’S allDAY blog, the rules for a swap party are simple. At ours, for every item you brought, you were handed a colored ticket which corresponded to one of four sections – either LOW (Wet Seal, GAP, etc.), MID (Bebe, J. Crew), HIGH (Michael Kors, DVF) or “DEAL OR NO DEAL” (items you’re willing to exchange/barter). You wrote your name on the tickets, which were then thrown in a bowl. The host picked out three at a time for the lucky ladies to “shop” the collection — and everyone went home with “new” fashions! Of course, in addition to the perks of this free spree, the party was all that much more fun, thanks to good food and good friends. 

Get in on the fashion fun
If hosting a swap party of your own seems like too much work, or if you’re worried that your friends aren’t diverse (or similar) enough in size or style, it doesn’t mean you’re stuck shopping the racks!  Chances are, there are dozens of swap parties already taking place in your city — and they’d love to have you join them!  Web sites like meetup.com and clothingswaps.com help you find a group or gathering in your area. Some sites focus strictly on swap parties in a particular region.  For example, PDXSwap.com lists numerous swap parties in the Portland area, broken down by size and location, so you can find the one that’s right for you.  In addition to being economical and eco-friendly, this is a great way to meet new people and expand your circle of friends!

Online options
For those of you who want the benefits of a clothing trade, without the social setting, you’ll be thrilled to know that there are new online options that let you swap clothes through a computer screen. Web sites like Rio Styles, Swapstyle, and Rehash are basically online versions of our event. Other sites help you swap specific items, such as Tots Swap Shop, which focuses on children’s clothing, and Dressshare, which lets you trade your already-worn party dress for someone else’s pretty frock!  

Some of these sites, like Dressshare, are set up as social networking sites and give you the benefit of extra security since you can only share with your “friends.” One of my favorite sites, Ex-Boyfriend Jewelry, lets you buy, trade or sell the jewelry you just can’t stand to look at anymore that was given to you by an ex. Not only are some of the pieces on here precious — the stories are literally priceless. You might as well get your feelings off your chest at the same time you get his gifts out of your house!  

Beyond clothing and accessories, Web sites are offering up other items for trade too. For example, Toolzdo zones in on home goods, tools — even bicycles — while VeggieTrader allows you to swap food! But whatever it is you’re looking to swap, the beauty of it is that everyone comes out with something they want —and it doesn’t cost a dime! Happy swapping!

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