ten years!!
ten years!!

It seems impossible somehow, but this year marked the 10th (TENTH!) anniversary of my annual clothing swap. I started hosting these parties when they were barely a blip on the ethical fashion radar — indeed, when ethical fashion itself wasn’t yet a “thing”. I can’t recall now how I heard about the idea of clothing swaps, but I was immediately drawn to it. Free clothes? A fun afternoon/evening with friends? Yes, please. At the party this year, I joked that my clothing swap is one of my longest running relationships; I started dating my husband a year after the first swap. All joking aside, the swaps have been a lovely way to, most of all, stay connected with friends I don’t get the chance to see often, and make new friends along the way. I was really excited this year when 3 new peeps were able to join the “swap sorority”, including Nicole. You can read her post on the swap here.

red, white and black
red, white and black

Every year, I choose a “theme” for the party. I am usually inspired by whatever decorations I have lying around the house, but this year my theme came to me in a different way. A while back, I noticed that one of the booths at the antique mall used playing cards to display vintage earrings and brooches, and I thought the idea was super neat. I decided to use it as a springboard for my party decorations, which then evolved into a red, black & white theme. As it turns out, I never did end up using the playing cards to display the available jewelry because I only had bracelets and necklace to swap. Oh well. The fruit-and-marshmallow kebabs, “garnished” with Oreos, looked lovely next to the red roses in their milk glass vases.

milk glass & roses
milk glass & roses

I am especially proud of this arrangement, which utilized an old piece of that green spongy stuff that real florists use in their arrangements — salvaged from a bouquet I received last year. Yep, I collect all kinds of trash — some of which even comes in handy. (By the way, if anyone knows what that stuff is called and where I can buy more of it, I would be forever grateful.) I thought it was a neat way to use one of the newest additions to my milk glass collection. I love roses, but I hate displaying them in their long-stemmed state, so I’m always looking for clever ways to showcase them.

the other grub
the other grub

I tried to continue the theme with the food — hence the bocconcini and tomato skewers — but I quickly gave up. Cheese and meats (or, if you want to be fancy, charcuterie) is where it’s at, theme or no theme. I can’t make them look artistic and Instagram-worthy, but believe me when I say that they were delicious. Mmm, prosciutto.

Moving on … oh, look who made me take a selfie. Only for you, friend. Only for you.

well, hello
well, hello

Being the dedicated blogger that I am, I forgot to take photos of the pile of clothes I contributed to the swap. Let’s just say that there were 3 enormous bags … and a half dozen pairs of shoes … and a couple of bags … and some jewelry. Oh, and nail polish too. Combined with the goodies that the other lovely ladies brought, we assembled a veritable Mount Everest in my living room. And that was just the rejects! (Everything that was left over after everyone had their picks was donated.) I did manage to take snaps of the things I ended up choosing and keeping.

Clockwise from top left: Anthropologie, Ted Baker, Anthropologie, Daniel Rainn
Clockwise from top left: Anthropologie, Ted Baker, Anthropologie, Daniel Rainn

The white popover and sweatshirt jacket are both Anthro brand, and both destined for my casual/loungewear capsule. The black Ted Baker jacket and Daniel Rainn vest are going to mix up my casual summer wardrobe.

left: Milla; right: Lululemon
left: Milla; right: Lululemon

The long vest on the left was a more experimental selection; we’ll see how it works as a casual summer topper. The Lululemons will be house pants. I foresee many hours of happy Netflix-ing in our future.

Left, Anthropologie; right, Coach
Left, Anthropologie; right, Coach

My two favourite pieces are probably this Anthro-brand skirt (from Nicole!) and this Coach tote. The skirt’s green colour is not in my wardrobe palette, but the silhouette is right up my alley — it’s a gorgeous midi pencil style. Styling it might prove to be a challenge, but I’m definitely up for it. The Coach bag has been in heavy use already. I’m not a fan of the monogram print and wish it was a solid colour, but the overall colour scheme is nice and versatile. The size and organization of the bag, on the other hand, is perfect for a work tote. I LOVE that it has not one, but two outside pockets (for easy access), as well as a zippered main compartment, and two sets of handles. The only issue I’ve discovered is that the handles start hurting a bit if you weigh the bag down with stuff, and carry it on your shoulder for a while. It’s not a huge issue for me, because my commute is not that long. I might just start looking for this style on eBay, in a different finish/colour.

I forgot to take pictures, but I also took home a lovely Linea Pelle bag, some nail polish (I’m fresh out, you guys!), and a couple of pieces for my mom — including some Manolo Blahnik shoes! A special thanks, and shout-out, to my friend L, who donated those. (My mom loves them.)

All in all, I think it’s safe to say that the clothing swap was a “jackpot” for all of us who attended. Here’s to another 10 fun years!

19 Comments on Clothing Swap: The Big Ten

  1. Hi Adina,

    The theme looks lovely and those kebabs look yummy! By the way, the green spongy stuff is known as ‘oasis brick’ / ‘oasis block’ or ‘flower foam’. It’s readily available in garden centres (in the UK anyway) and on Amazon…

  2. I’ve always wanted to do this, but I have a very small circle of friends and I’m the smallest size of everyone, so none of their things would even come close to fitting me.

    • See if there are any public swaps being organized in your area. There are a few every year here. They usually have stricter rules (my swap is a bit of a free-for-all) but there should be lots of variety of sizes and styles. Or perhaps see if friends of friends might be interested in joining. A lot of people I’ve ended up meeting through my swaps were friends of friends, and the circle has expanded over the years.

  3. Oasis foam or florist foam, it holds many times its weight in water. Here in the States I find it at craft stores near the silk flowers and glass pebble things people put in vases. You can cut it to size with a blade or it comes in many shapes and sizes.

    • I love this stuff, it’s so great for arrangements. I don’t know why I never thought to try to find it to buy, and instead hoarded all the bits from old bouquets … oh well, better late than never.

  4. Sometimes that foam is called florists foam, sometimes it’s called a frog. If you google florist’s foam frog you’ll see big bricks of it. They carry all sorts of different styles and sizes at Michaels.

    I’m still so ticked off I couldn’t make it πŸ™

  5. Do you know the name of that Coach style? I really love the shape and size!

    What a find in the skirt! Though, I’m most excited to see how you style the vests…

    • I believe it’s called the Peyton tote. I may have, ahem, tracked it down on eBay already.

      The vests will be casual toppers this summer, and I’m so excited. Only a few more months to wait, sigh …

      • eBay was my next step πŸ™‚ Do you have any philosophies that you stick to while shopping eBay? But-It-Now vs bidding auctions? Location? Seller ratings?

        • I have lots of theories, LOL! I think I wrote a post about it a while back. But basically, I prefer BINs versus auctions, and would also encourage using the Make an Offer option. I’ve had great success with that lately, including on another Peyton tote (ahem).

          I tend to buy from US or Canadian sellers mostly, but will look to UK sellers on UK brands like Ted Baker, Mulberry, Boden, etc. I also always look at Japanese consignment stores (with eBay accounts) for designer bags. Their prices are often better, and shipping is usually free (and fast!). They take really detailed photos of the bags, and give thorough condition descriptions. They are good about not selling fakes.

          For seller ratings, I stick to loose guidelines: for power sellers, rating has to be 95% or better (they sell more, so it’s natural that they will have more unreasonably disgruntled customers, if that makes sense); for non-power sellers (or anyone with less than 100 feedback), rating has to be 100%. Always check measurements, item descriptions, and look at photos very closely.

          if you have other questions, feel free to email me!

    • No rules! People bring what they can/want (as long as it’s in good condition) and take as much or as little as they want. If more than one person is interested in an item, people are usually good about taking turns trying the pieces and deciding who gets what — we’ve never had any fights, LOL! At the end, we donate all the leftovers.

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