How To Host a Clothing Swap Party/Lady Fight Club

Just kidding about the second part.
Publish date:
August 15, 2011
parties, DIY, clothing swap, hostessing, entertaining

Hola mis amigos! (I watched a movie about a Mexican street urchin baseball team featuring Cheech Marin last night.)

But on Saturday I went to a clothing swap hosted by my obnoxiously great-at-everything friend, Laura Leu. Except it's actually not even obnoxious, because she is so kind and humble that you wouldn't even know she cooks plates of amazing baked goods and delivers them to all her editors at Christmas time, or that she plays the accordian, or that she competed in the Nathan's hot dog eating contest this year.

And, needless to say, she hosts a mean clothing swap, so I'm going to steal her mojo and post exactly how she does it.

Clothing swaps are the perfect way to achieve the satisfaction of cleaning out your closet while promptly refilling it. Just pick a date and send an email to all your friends announcing the swap and asking them to bring their unwanted clothes, shoes and accessories.

When your friends arrive, have them unload their bags into a communal swap pile. Or you can organize them by category like Laura did -- she had tops in the living room, dresses in the bedroom and bottoms in her office so we didn't have to swap on top of each other. (That's a different kind of swap party.)

There are two schools of thought on what happens next. The other swaps I have been to in the past have going with option A) an "MC" of sorts holds up and describes each individual item of clothing and people call out if they want it. If two people want the same item of clothing, it comes down to a wear-off -- both put it on and the group decides who looks better in it. (In practice, one person usually nicely gives it to the person who seems to want it more.)

This was a party utilizing option B) the host rings a bell and it's a clothing free-for-all, with women clawing, scratching and ripping each other's pants down in an effort to get that pair of Citizens of Humanity jeans or that "I love broke musicians and tequila shots" T-shirt. (Both actual swap items.)

OK, that didn't happen, as you can see. Everyone just kind of calmly spread out. A few more tips:

1. Wear cute underwear. 'Cause everyone's about to see it! Once the swap is on, there's no time for modesty. Everyone's gonna be ripping their clothes off, trying stuff on and hopefully not making fun of your period undies. Matching optional.

2. Make/buy snacks! I mean, duh, are you gonna invite a bunch of women over to your house, get them naked and not feed them? At Laura's party, there were a lot of mid-swap, bra-and-panty-clad guacamole breaks. If you're inviting me, have Coke Zero. Otherwise, booze.

I asked Laura to send over the recipe for her Ricotta, Honey & Lemon Bruschetta which was soooo freaking delicious, and here's what she says:

  • Cut baguette on the diagonal into 1/2-inch slices. Toast baguette slices in broiler for a couple minutes per side.
  • Smear ricotta on each slice. The restaurant where I first tried this dish uses Salvatore Bklyn ricotta, which is motherf**king divine, like fluffy clouds of lactose dreams. But it's also hella expensive, so I went with Trader Joe's cheap-o ricotta (it's like $3.99 for a tub!), and I'm happy to report that when all the components are together, I couldn't much tell the difference.
  • Drizzle with honey. Here's where I splurged. I'm sort of a honey snob (daughter of a bee-keeper here), so I would never use any ol' crappy kind that comes in a squeezable bear. I used a good orange blossom variety, which has a light citrus-y flavor and pairs perfectly with ricotta.
  • Zest lemon and sprinkle over slices. Voila, you're done!

3. Swap bags. Now we're getting into advanced preparation. Doling out trash bags for women to fill with their second-hand spoils is good form. Making little labels to place on the intoxicating, vanilla-scented bags is above and beyond.

4. During the swap: Ignore sizes! If you're a 10, try a 6, and vice versa. Chances are the item didn't fit right in the first place, and that's why its being swapped. (That said, don't invite one friend who is a totally different size than everybody else and won't be able to wear anything anyone brings, even if she has the best clothes.)

5. At the end: Do a onceover to make sure you're getting stuff you really want. It's free, so you'll be tempted to take stuff you wouldn't pay for. I try to avoid taking stuff that has been rewswapped several times, like a purple-and-gold tank top I picked up, only to have two separate people say, "Oh, I got that at a swap and never wore it, so I brought it back." That tank top is cursed!

Of course, if you really love something, set it free, and it may come back to you.

6. After the swap: Gather round to recap. We went around in a circle and each showed our two favorite scores. This makes the person who brought the item feel really good. Applause optional (but nice).

Then head home with your second-hand bounty! Usually it falls to the hostess to haul the leftovers to Salvation Army or whatever. Let me know if you successfully throw your own, or gimme your better party ideas.