Transfer of Ownership is a term typically reserved for used cars, computers and occasionally land and homes. As of this past weekend, however, I can also now use this expression to include clothes. I attended my very first clothing swap. If you’ve never attended a clothing swap, it is quite simple: it is an organized event for which several adult women gather to exchange clothes they own but no longer want. My first clothing swap was a small, intimate affair with 5-6 women. I admit my personal donations to this exchange were less than generous and somewhat out-dated but they were in good condition and free of any stains or obvious repair. All our donations were required to be delivered a few days ahead of time and upon arrival, and I could see why! My hostess’s living and dining rooms had been transformed into a women’s shop complete with dedicated sections for bottoms, tops, dresses, shoes and handbags. Evening wear and business suits hung invitingly from her fireplace mantle while sweaters and tops intermingled on her dining room table. Everything was free for the taking and her son created helpful signs directing “shoppers” to the nearby designated fitting rooms (the office, powder room and master bedroom!).
For me, the experience was vaguely reminiscent of my high school visits to my older and more fashion-savvy sister in university in the Big City. Prior to a big night out with her and her friends, I drank beer and was invited to rifle through her closet looking for something a little more hip and stylish to wear. Instead of the beer that pre-toxed our college nights out, for this event our hostess offered us Mohitos with fresh mint or a refreshing glass of wine while we poured over the stock… decidedly more chic.
I have to say that it was a very gratifying way to shop, aside from the obvious benefits of coming away with scads of clothing for which I paid not a cent! I didn’t have to cash in my RRSPs for a new skirt nor did any bored, disgruntled sales clerks snarl at me while shopping. Rather than buying clothes from a warehouse sale advertising designer labels that, upon arrival, are suspiciously cut away causing me to question their source and worry that SWAT teams would soon swarm the place, I acquired several brand name piece and several not-so-brand name pieces from close friends (who may have bought them from warehouse sales of questionable origin, but that’s another matter!). In fact, I know I acquired clothing that was well cared for by its previous owners. Unlike typical Boxing Day sales at the mall, this clothing exchange was void of frenzied bloodthirstiness and I needed only once to inform a friend that she was rifling through my “try on” pile just a touch too expectantly!
I am the proud new owner of several pairs of pants, short and skirts not to mention some darling and daring dresses. The bonus being that if I or any of my friends angst that the gorgeous dress just given away might have had one more good wear out of it, we know exactly where it now lives and can take it out for another spin any time.
As we left with our shopping bags full, we vowed we’d do it again – in fact – before the next season required another wardrobe adjustment!