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So she went swishing

Not fishing.

Swishing.

Which is actually clothes swapping. And clothes swapping is a swap shop extravaganza, providing an ethical wardrobe overhaul opportunity, with social benefits.

The first rule of clothes swap is: don’t put any of your belongings down, not even for a second. 

Because everything is fair game in the swap room and there’s no way of knowing if anything belongs to you, unless you’re actually holding it. If you put your handbag down, expect someone to be rummaging through it in a nanosecond. This isn’t because swishers are petty thieves, but because a swap. is. not. a. shop.

The second rule of clothes swap is: a swap is not a shop.

Whether it’s a bring-a-bag-fill-a-bag or take-as-many-items-as-you-bring set up, this is joyously cashless. The caveat being that there might be a small fee to take part, but often this goes to charity or room hire, although I once picked up a handbag (among many other lovely things), at a charity swish and sold it for more than my entry fee…

The third rule of clothes swap is: look out for a high value item.

The original owner chose to bring rather than sell it, probably because they couldn’t be bothered with the hassle, so they’re not going to mind if you can. Even better, give the money you make from selling it to a charity or to help a friend in need.

The fourth rule of clothes swap is: one man’s sheep is another man’s cow.

What?!

Well, what one person loves another will hate. So take friends of different shapes and sizes and/or with slightly different tastes and you won’t be fighting over the same garments. And just in general, take friends. Invite friends. Because it’s super social fun, like tupperware parties of the olden days, but hipster and on trend. And just better. The dynamic is quite different whether it’s a venue with lots of strangers, or a house swish with friends and acquaintances, but it’s always super friendly and lovely, because we just love messing about with clothes and accessories. If it’s a group of friends, much fun can be had playing dress-up too.

The fifth rule of clothes swap is: swish with a dish.

My meaning here is food, but taking a handsome man is also recommended.

Swishing works so much better with food or drink interludes. I like to stay for the full duration of a clothes swap so I can investigate new garment arrivals as attendees come and go, so a drink or snack is an ideal accompaniment to proceedings. If you don’t have clothes to swap, home baking is often a well received alternative at a home swish and means you can still take part.

The last rule of clothes swap is: don’t give to get.

This is a good rule for life in general, but the joy of swapping lies in seeing another woman’s face light up as she tries on something you brought – and it’s perfect on her. Or seeing a woman go back to her friends gleefully showing them the dress she just found – that you brought. It’s pretty special.

Actually there’s something that runs a little deeper here, in a culture of competitiveness and obsession with image, it’s really lovely to be in a room full of women telling each other how nice they look in something. There’s a graciousness and generosity of spirit to it. Perhaps some clothes swaps are dog-eat-dog, but it’s not something I’ve encountered and I love that so many people are moving away from disposable fashion shopping, to ethical swapping.

The recent clothes swap I went to was held at Sofi’s in Edinburgh, for the charity EMMS, but for events near you, check out Swap in the City, Swishing.com or look out for swaps at local venues.

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