The changing of the seasons is always fun for me. After a few months of the same wardrobe I am pretty tired of the same-old-same-old and a closet refresh–even if it’s simply pulling out items from another time–is a nice change of pace. My favorite style-switch-over is winter to spring/summer so this time of year gives me fashion-joy like none other.
Last Fall I did my first ever Swap Party. I had no idea how it would go, who would show (would anyone show), how it would be received, would everyone’s style mesh… Well, it was great. I learned a few things–first and foremost, no one comes for the food, so don’t worry so much about that–and also decided I HAD to do it again come spring!
So this past Sunday some fabulously stylish ladies got together once again to swap lovely wares, chat and nosh on small(er) nibbles. I have to say, I got some fantastic pieces, but even better, I saw some items I was ready to say goodbye to go to wonderful homes.
But very quickly, I have to just back-up a moment… The term “swap” just doesn’t work. It’s kind of ick-y, very Ice Storm-ish conjuring up images of unhappy couples at parties dropping their car keys into a large glass bowl and mixing up partners and playmates. Not cute. I like the term Recycling Fashion much better (not to be confused with Recycled Fashion which is something else altogether).
Speaking of “recycling,” as April is the month for Earth Day (and I admit I’m writing this post on the very last day of April, but I swear I was well-intended) I thought it might be a good moment to mention all the benefits of swapping…er, um, Recycling Fashion:
– Yes, it certainly provides some relief to your wallet (or lightens your handbag…whichever analogy you prefer).
– Consider also that in our culture of mass consumption, it’s nice to take full advantage whenever opportunities to recycle and reuse surface — especially when they involve great friends and some laughs.
– Finally, I recently wrote about how hoarding has impacted my family. Because of that, I have decided for the next twelve months, I am going to purge at least four (4) bags of stuff from my home–yep, 4 bags. Now I don’t mean I’m creating an additional four bags of garbage every month. Much of this stuff can be donated, recycled or (of course) set aside for a future swap. And it also means I’m being much more conscious about my purchasing decisions, asking things like: Do I REALLY need this? Can I fix, adjust or alter something I have already? Is it durable and will it last a long time? How was it made?
Some tips to host a great Recycling Fashion Fete:
1. Target between 5-10 guests. It seems to be the right amount of people to have enough of a variety of items without chaos or competition.
2. Expect some initial anxiety if this is a new concept for some. That’s ok. Making the invite seem more intimate helps, Paperless Post lets you keep guest lists discreet and message people privately.
3. Give your guests enough lead time, like six weeks. This is a substantial effort to clean out and pull items that one is ready to part with–especially if they are doing it as part of a major spring cleaning. If you feel like six weeks is too early to send an invite, consider a Save-The-Date first. Using a service like Paperless Post lets you pre-schedule reminders, send STDs and then follow-up with invitations.
4. Food isn’t the focal point–it makes sense, I don’t bring a hero sandwich into the Barney’s dressing room.
5. You will need to clear areas for different types of items — foldables, hangables, accessories, shoes, etc and keep food away from the merchandise.
6. For planning purposes, assume approximately 10-12 items per guest — some may have more, some less, better to have more hangers and space than less.
7. Ideally, for 5-10 people you will have at least two changing areas with some mirror action assuming all your friends are comfortable with each other. If you have a modest group either allot extra time for waiting/changing or you could set up a screen or clear an extra area for dressing. You may be surprised though, by the end of the Fall party, we were shedding our clothes and jumping into wares in front of one another and thought nothing of it.
8. What you will definitely need: A coat rack, lots of hangers, some baskets (for scarves, belts and other accessories), markers and index cards to label sections.
9. Set aside some shopping bags. Most of your gal pals will have brought their items in bags, but they may be bringing bigger (badder) stuff home and will need reinforcements.
10. Prepare to have a blast and have all kinds of “leftovers.” Let your guests know if you want them to take the items that are not recycled with them or not. If you give them the option to leave them with you, make sure you know what you plan to do with them–donate to your local church, the Red Cross, Dress For Success or the Salvation Army are all options and they have different requirements for donation and pick-up or drop off.
So I hope you try a Recycling Fete–if fashion isn’t your thing try beauty, decor, kitchen appliances, hand or power tools, gardening gear or whatever moves you. The idea is similar — just let your passion and creativity take you there!