Swapping: The Next Best Thing to Shopping

Swapping: The Next Best Thing to Shopping
A brand new blue blouse I never wore, swapped for a new orange blazer

Since I've been out of a job, I've had to cut back on shopping (ahem. I'm actually on a self-imposed shopping ban for the month of June). But I definitely still have that itch to shop. It's hard when you read a lot of fashion blogs and receive all those sale e-mails (and birthday coupons. Whyyyy does is does it have to be my birthmonth?).

And so.
I discovered swapping.

Whether you're budgeting, trying to save up, or on a ~job-break like I am, it's a totally genius idea.

Normally, I just sell my old items (eBay!) and donate the really dated things. But what about everything else? The things that I'm not willing to part with below retail value?

The concept itself is so simple but so clever, and until a couple of weeks ago, hadn't occurred to me before. It's exhilarating discovering something new from someone else's closet while giving your old things a second chance.

I was recently added to a private swapping forum on Facebook and was immediately overwhelmed by all the options. Girls (mostly from the U.S., but a few international ones too) from all sizes, shapes, and backgrounds had albums and blogs filled with photos of things they wanted to sell or swap. I got all excited, set up my own blog with things to swap or sell, and got immediately swap-happy--commenting on new things that were posted, messaging girls to see if they wanted to exchange this dress for that blouse.

I made six swaps in my first week.

Why swap?

Let's face it: you have things in your closet that you don't use anymore. Things you've bought and never worn. Things that are underappreciated. With swapping, you can send your under-loved things to good homes and receive new things that you do love in return. It's a wonderful (and totally sustainable) way to keep your style fresh without hurting your wallet.

Items I've swapped
What to swap:
  • That sweater your aunt gave you that is so not your style.
  • That dress you wore once to that party and haven't worn since.
  • The skirt you bought (new with tags) a year ago but never had the chance to wear. And now it's too late to return it.
  • The shirt you wore a few times but doesn't fit anymore.
  • The jeans you bought out of desperation (it was the last pair!) that were two sizes too big, but you convinced yourself you'd get them taken in. And never did. 
Generally, a good rule of thumb is if it's new (or in really good used condition) and still in style/trendy, it's swappable. Nothing overused, overworn, or damaged. If you wouldn't want to receive it in that condition, then don't try to swap it.

How and where to swap:
  1. Have a swap party. Probably one of the easiest ways to swap. Gather a bunch of your friends, bring your stuff, and negotiate in person. The great thing is you'll get to check out the merch up close and try things on. The bad thing is the selection might be limited, depending on how many attend and whether or not your sizes/styles are close enough.
  2. Join a swap site. I found a couple that are worth looking into: Swapstyle is a site dedicated to swapping clothing and accessories, and Rehash is a swap site where you can trade clothing, accessories and books. 
  3. There are other ways to swap, including forums and smaller online communities, so do a little research until you find one that has what you're looking for. Some people who join private online communities list their items on blogs and online marketplaces (like I did).

  • If swapping online, it's good to have an idea of current postage rates. Package your items securely and send them in a timely manner. Let your swap partner know when you're sending things out so they know when to expect them. 
  • Be sure to join a trustworthy community. Beware of scams and sharing your information with sketchy parties. 
  • Ask your swap partners questions. You have to rely on photos and vague descriptions when deciding if you want something. If you need additional information (i.e. measurements, fiber content, fit), ask before you both agree on the swap so you're less likely to end up with something that's ill-fitting. 
  • Likewise, try to take good photos and be as descriptive as possible.

Have you swapped before? What do you think about swapping?
Also, if you'd like to check out the things I have to swap and sell, click here!