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Credit: Hilary Henegar

We at Granville Online recently hosted our first fashion swap at the office, and all I can say is, we should have done this a long time ago!

After work on a Thursday, our office fashionistas gathered in the big boardroom to ooh and aah over the surprising amount of good-quality clothing, accessories and shoes that everyone contributed to the swap. It was a spirited evening of fun exchange and delightful discoveries, and everyone left with at least a few new-found treasures.

The concept was straight-forward and pretty easy to put together—all that was really required was a passion for sustainable fashion.

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Lily Page of Flair Image Consulting

Top 4 Tips for
Smarter Shopping


We were lucky to have Lily Page of Flair Image Consulting on hand to help us spot the perfect scores and to share some insight on smart shopping!

Here are her top four tips:
? Invest in classic staples.

? Find out which colour combinations work for you and stick to them.

? Don’t get carried away with trends—dabble. Just because plaid is in for now doesn’t mean you should buy skirts, shirts and jackets in plaid. Instead, try buying a plaid scarf to go with your more tried-and-true pieces.

? If you haven’t worn it in a year or two, you won’t ever wear it again. Take it out of your closet for good.

 

Why swap?


“It was 60 percent off! I couldn’t pass on a deal like that! That’d be almost rude!”
“It’s just that this style looked so good in the spread I saw in Vogue!”
“I know it’s not very practical, but it’s so gorgeous I couldn’t resist! No, I haven’t worn it since that one time three years ago, but I’m sure I can put it to good use again at some point… maybe?”

We’ve all been there before. For one reason or another, we get sucked into buying clothes that don’t really fit us or our lifestyles, and they inevitably end up languishing at the bottom of our closets causing nothing but guilt and clutter. Wasteful spending like this can also add unnecessary burden to the environment: for every unworn blouse there was a pesticide applied to a plant, a factory spewing out chemical-laced water, a worker paid too little, a freighter guzzling fossil fuels through plastic-strewn seas, greenhouse gas emissions choking the atmosphere, a temperature-controlled storefront… No purchase is ever simple.

But what doesn’t work for you may turn out to be a gem for others, and vice versa. And that’s why we enjoyed the fashion-swap experience so much. As a bonus benefit, the process of detoxing my closet helped me take stock of what no longer works for me; so now I can make smarter shopping choices. Plus, the image of all those bags of clothes I took to the swap is a powerful deterrent against any more impulse buys!

Still need more convincing? How about guilt-free and, well, just plain free shopping? Hello?!
 

The set-up


We had to work around some space limitations, but we did our best to put on a neat display: shoes along one wall, jackets and coats draped against backs of chairs, matching skirts or bags on the seat, designated areas for shirts, sweaters, pants, scarves, etc. It’s true that things will get moved all over the place within the first 15 minutes, but a good first impression is important in setting the tone of the event.

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Because we didn’t have a huge crowd, we opted for a free-for-all style where everyone basically swooped in at the same time to pick through the goods. But if you have a lot of people attending, it may be best to split everyone up into groups. You can devise some fun games to decide which groups get to go first. This will not only help keep things moving smoothly but will help build a lively atmosphere, too.
 

Seriously? I can take this?!


There were many lovely items that were in such incredible condition that I felt like I’d be stealing if I walked away with them. One of the things I took was a pair of near-new Parasuco jeans that fits me and my wardrobe so well that I’ve worn them three times in the past eight days—which is, ahem, more often than a few of the items I brought to the swap.
 

Etiquette


Just a little side note here, to make the swap an enjoyable experience for everyone, it is important to contribute items that are in good, clean condition. As our sales manager Jody Ross-Gooselaw so aptly puts it, bring in things that make you go, “Ooh, I love this—too bad it doesn’t really work for me anymore!” and not “Eww, glad to be getting rid of that one!” Translation: nothing with holes or pilly knees, please.
 

Variety is key


A fashion swap doesn’t have to be limited to clothes! It’ll be a lot more fun and draw a lot more interest if you encourage the contribution of shoes, bags, scarves and other accessories.
 

Dress it up


You can make the swap as elaborate or as bare-bones casual as you like. We decided to set up a small reception with wine and cheese, chips and dip so people could mingle and take a breather. Music helps, too!
 

Share the wealth


A clothing swap provides a great venue to promote charitable causes. As there are usually extra items left at the end of a swap, do make the effort to gather and donate them so they can benefit as many people as possible. Also, consider asking the participants to bring in cash donations or canned goods to the swap meet.

The extra items from our event were brought to the Marguerite Dixon Transition Society, for whom we were also able to raise almost $300. Talk about win-win!
 

Your turn!


All in all, it was a great evening. We got to de-clutter our living spaces, learned to reduce waste, shopped guilt-free for new clothes, hung out with friends and helped those less fortunate. Not bad for a Thursday night.

So what are you waiting for? Get swapping!