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What’s Swap, What’s Not — 5 Tips for Optimal Clothes Swapping

Trading clothes you never wear for something new and fabulous? Yes, please!

Clothes swapping is on the rise—and it’s easy to see why. Who doesn’t love getting new clothes at basically no cost? It’s a concept that just makes sense. You incur no debt, refresh your wardrobe, and gain a good feeling, knowing that you’re not adding to the landfill where so many donated clothes end up (at a startling rate, too: 10.5M tons/year in the US /£140M worth/year in the UK). 

So you’re on board—you have a pile of clothes that you’ve pulled from your closet that you’re ready to swap. But how do you know if your one-time favourite jumper/dress/trousers is “swap-worthy?” Here are some tips for deciding what’s swap—and what’s not. 

What is the condition of your piece... really?

Great swapping experiences require having good relations with other swappers. This means you want to list items in the same or even better condition as you would want to receive it. Think about your most fastidious friend, and ask yourself, “Would I give this piece of clothing to her?” If you hesitate, can you remedy the situation? Maybe it just takes putting in a little effort and removing a small stain or fixing a small tear to get your piece up to snuff. But if your garment shows wear from too many washings—think twice. Would you want to get a “new” piece of clothing that has already seen better days? Probably not. 

The more unique, the better.

When you’re swapping, it’s the unusual that catches people’s eyes—that’s true for everyone. Your sequined gown or vintage dress will probably get snatched up faster than your basic Uniqlo jumper. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to swap your high-quality staples—but you will want to adjust your expectations on how quickly it will go. 

Is sentimentality colouring your judgement? 

Let’s say you have a dress that has been in your closet for years, and you are ready to let it go to another home. Over the years, you had a great time in this dress. In fact, you met your significant other wearing it! You have such great memories of looking fabulous in the dress. But take a look without the rose-coloured glasses of memory—can the dress provide magic for someone else or is a happy memory amplifying its value?  

Yes, that fancy bra is pretty... 

...But no, it’s probably not good swap. Here’s the reality—even though you may have hardly worn/never worn that bra, panties, Spanx, and so on, you probably don’t want to put these intimate garments on the open swap market. You know it’s clean and pristine, but other swappers who don’t know your high standards will likely be wary.

Gym clothes? Maybe.

Synthetic fabrics, especially those that have been sweated in a lot, tend to hold onto smells. Thus used gym clothes typically are a no-go. However, those never-worn gym clothes might be okay. (What a great way to get rid of never-worn “New Year’s resolution” workout clothes!) Designate these items as new—and if you still have the tags on them, all the better to show in the photos. 


As you can tell, you want to have some standards with your swap items because in the end, the quality that you put into swapping is what you will get out of it. And the reality is, you probably have a lot to work with in the swap world. After all, 30% of the clothing in the average British closet goes unworn. Iif you follow these guidelines for determining “what’s swap, what’s not,” you’ll help ensure you have the best experiences possible. Happy swapping! 

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