How to score a new wardrobe without spending a cent

By Melina Byrne

(as pictured preparing for her clothing swap Hen’s Night with a few hens and the neglected topless waiter)



Are you suffering from empty purse syndrome? Melina Byrne, RESCU’s resident recessionista, has the perfect remedy – organise a clothing exchange party with your friends, leave your purse at home, and Swap ‘Til You Drop…

Believe me, you won’t regret hosting or attending a swap party. I turned my recent Hen’s Night into a ‘Clothing & More’ swap and it was a massive success. We swapped everything from books and magazines to clothes, shoes, and even a vintage lamp.



And we didn’t ditch the Hen’s Night traditions. During the swap, I was draped in the obligatory pink wedding veil, devil horns, and a sash that read “The Future Mrs Byrne” (these personalised sashes can be ordered on eBay).

Not sold on swap parties yet? Here are some advantages:



1.  You clean out your closet

Sometimes it’s hard to find the time to clean the clutter from your wardrobe or house. Swap parties are the perfect opportunity to rid yourself of unloved items. Just be careful not to bring home any more clutter!



At my swap party, a friend brought a massive boxful of her old nightclubbing outfits circa 1996. It was entertaining to rummage through and see how the fashion had changed… and our body shapes had also shifted.



2.  Their trash becomes your treasure

By hosting a Clothes & More swap, you could reap the benefits of your friend’s short-lived gym phase by ‘adopting’ the gym clothes she only wore once or twice. Or someone may donate a raft of books and magazines you haven’t read. Eureka!



It also works both ways. Your friend may fit into the dress that you’ve outgrown (lucky b*tch!).



3. It’s entertaining

Add some alcohol, party music and giant mirrors. Then watch how fast the girls start performing their own fashion shows. Remember how Carrie’s wardrobe clearout became an impromptu fashion show in The Sex And The City Movie. You could even vote on whether the items should stay or go – like the S.A.T.C. girls did.



The main entertainment during my swap party wasn’t the muscly topless waiter I hired to serve drinks (sadly for him!). It was a tug of war that occurred when three friends fought over a Guess handbag. But before the claws came out and the bag was ripped in half, we organised a raffle and the new handbag’s owner was chosen by the topless waiter. Crisis averted!



4.  It’s good for the environment

The Planet Ark website says that swapping clothing and other organic items diverts them from ending up in landfill. In landfill, they produce methane, a greenhouse gas with the global warming capacity 20 times stronger than CO2. So by clothes swapping, you are reducing the damage to the environment… and your budget! 



Click here for Planet Ark’s helpful hints on hosting a swap party. You can also download swap party invitations, rules, swap tokens and more.



WikiHow also features step-by-step instructions on How To Host A Fashion Swap party

Can’t be bothered planning a party? Attend a Swap My Style event:



Held in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Canberra, Swap My Style parties enable you to swap up to 5 pre-loved designer outfits in a stylish party atmosphere. You also receive a glass of complimentary champagne and other stylish perks for a minimal entry fee.



For more info, go to http://www.swapmystyle.com.au/.



Clothing Exchange (www.clothingexchange.com.au) also hosts clothes swapping events in Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide. 





Some of the books and magazines available for free at my swap.

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