When spring rolls around, we all get that itch to clean, spruce and purge our clutter. I’m so busy these days, I scarcely have time to update my spring wardrobe, let alone clean out my already too-packed closet. When cleaning out our homes, our first instinct might be to donate clothes or household items to Goodwill, a local resale shop or another charity, which I often do when moving — donating tons of items in bulk. However, the task of cleaning out one’s place can be made easier with small cleanses every few months.
My grandmother grew up during the Great Depression. I’m convinced her experiences somehow translated to how she raised my mother, who basically can’t throw away anything. This resulted in my mom’s insistence when I was young that I get use out of every article of clothing my older sisters outgrew. It has also resulted in a storage unit containing far too many of my sisters’ and my childhood relics. To this day, my mom can’t even bake without grabbing every granule of sugar dropped onto the counter while measuring.
While I find my mother’s baking habits endearing, she has also instilled in me an irrational fear of throwing away anything. The promise of good friends, cheap wine, and free loot in the form of a friends clothing swap, however, somehow temporarily shakes me out of my hoarder’s neurosis every few months.
I have a group of seven or eight girlfriends with whom I gather every couple months for a clothing swap. We alternate hosting at our various apartments, and much like with a book club, the host provides treats and wine. Each of us contributes a bag (or several) of items we want to swap, and we take turns auctioning off our old treasures for verbal dibs.
Admittedly, there are some heated debates over certain articles of clothing, but we all go home with tons of new things and some satisfaction that we’ve gotten rid of the old. Often, I end up going home with more than I got rid of, but at least they’re new items I’ll be wearing or using in the next few months. Older clothes, shoes, books, or movies aren’t helping me at all if I’m not using them. If I receive a new dress, pair of heels, sweater, or even a kitchen whisk that I really needed, at least it’s taking up space in my apartment with purpose.
Evidently, we don’t limit our swaps to clothes. We essentially bring anything we’re trying to get rid of, from jeans to evening gowns, as well as purses, coats, shoes, books, DVDs, music, kitchen utensils, electronics, and even strange items, such as jumper cables—my favorite latest score in our April swap.
As someone who hoards a bit, I actually find it really satisfying to give my beloved possessions to a beloved friend. Plus, it’s really fun fighting over new finds. Not to mention, members of our swap group unabashedly re-swap items once we’re tired of them, so I’m never stuck with something for too long if I don’t want it.
If you love a good bargain (and there’s no better bargain than “free”), or you just can’t part with all of your favorite clothes at once, I definitely recommend the clothing swap route. You can part with your oldies, but goodies, slowly and you get to hand them off to a great new home where you know they’ll be cherished and used.
I don’t know where I’d be this spring without a bunch of new tops from my girlfriends –and those ever important jumper cables.