Suburban Pioneers

The Adventures and Misadventures of Homesteading in 21st-Century America

Sarah: For Your Next Party… February 26, 2013

Fall Clothing Swap, 2011

Fall Clothing Swap, 2011

For your next party, might I suggest an instant crowd-pleaser?


It began in graduate school when I (and all my fellow grad students) were very poor (and, since we’re all now English graduates, we’re still poor, so the tradition has continued).  None of us could afford to buy new clothes.  I mean, we all rocked the thrift store fashions–like any self-respecting grad students–but after the first year of grad school, we were too poor even for thrift store prices (and have you SEEN the tags at Goodwill lately? $5.99 for a pair of pants?!).


Then a brilliant idea occurred to us.  If we just brought all those clothes we were tired of, the clothes that didn’t fit right, the shirts that were the wrong color, or the pants we’d bought meaning to lose 5 lbs., we could all have new clothes–for free!  And that’s how it started:


The Great Graduate Girls’ Garment Giveaway (hey, we’re English majors, folks; alliteration is apropos).

Cat Not Included in Swap

Cat Not Included in Clothing Swap


When we cleaned out our closets, we realized it was pretty amazing and distressing how many clothes we had that we didn’t want, need, or wear.  When we piled all of those clothes into one of our miniscule offices (and then crammed all of the graduate girls into that 6 x 6 foot space), not only did we have lots of fun, we really got to know each other better–nothing like seeing people’s castoffs and unmentionables to promote instant bonding!  Every person took home a few new things, and it was amazing how many of the things that didn’t fit me well perfectly fit one of my friends.


Now that I’m out of graduate school, I see no reason this gathering shouldn’t continue.  Some things have changed.  There are other wonderful friends involved (who also have clothes-trading traditions), and it’s called the Clothing Swap since only some of us are still in grad school.  Also, and very importantly, my friends and I now have actual jobs (or at least part-time jobs), so when we gather at someone’s house, we serve coffee and wine and dessert as we try on each others’ castoffs.


I highly recommend this form of entertainment, but I would issue a warning.  While wine (like unmentionables and castoffs) promotes bonding and hilarity, it also means that you might just come home with something you never imagined yourself owning…

the infamous tiger pants

The Infamous Tiger Pants


2 Responses to “Sarah: For Your Next Party…”

  1. English (well, comp lit) major, too. So, no wonder this idea resonates deeply. Thanks for sharing the tiger pants. Too good. Will include your post as a great clothing reuse solution in our app. All the best!
    — Liesl at Trash Backwards

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