Swap Til You Drop: A Cheaper Way to Find Great Clothes

As college students on a budget, I’m sure we all love finding chic clothes for cheap.  So, when I heard about the Boston Fashion Week Sip and Swap event, I was intrigued. The premise is simple: buy a ticket (usually about $10), bring a bag of clothes, and take home a bag filled with whatever you can carry.  However, I was a little skeptical about finding anything I would actually wear at the event. As is the case in many second hand stores, I assumed it would be filled with cast-offs a few decades old or things that no one really wants. I was prepared to have to do some digging to find any gems. Thankfully, though, I was completely wrong.

The event was held at the Microsoft NERD Center, a swanky place that immediately cast aside any concerns I might have had about the quality of the swap. From the stairs and balcony overlooking the swap area, I could see piles of clothes, racks stuffed with hanging garments, a wall lined with jewelry and bags, and a corner filled with shoes.

All the shoes up for grabs. Photo via Atlas Magazine.

When I dropped my bag of clothes off, I was given a canvas one to fill with my new finds. People started lining up about a half hour before the actual event.  The air inside the room quickly started to feel like the outside of Best Buy the night before Black Friday.  As soon as the swap started, everyone rushed towards the different sections and began grabbing whatever they could get their hands on. Although I had tried to come up with some sort of strategy beforehand, I was quickly overwhelmed. In the time it took me to look through one rack of clothes, some people had already stuffed their bags and were carrying more pieces in their arms. Some had even planned ahead and brought extra bags to fill with all their finds. Despite my lack of planning and the sheer immensity of swappers, I managed to find a fair amount of clothes and a few pairs of shoes, all cute and in good condition. There were certainly some things-like the matching 80’s floral print blazer and pants- that were less than desirable, but there was enough variety in both size and style that almost anyone could find something to suit their taste.

Setting up the before the swap. Photo via Atlas Magazine

The swap was organized by the Swapaholics, a Boston based duo who have put on many other events like this throughout the country. Their website, Swap.com, which is launching soon, will be the online equivalent of a swapping party. Almost anything can be traded, from movies to furniture, and of course, to clothes. Another cool feature of the site is that it lists local swaps going on in your area. Just enter your zip code and you can find out when and where the next swap will be held.

For anyone interested, there are definitely some things I would recommend doing to get the most out of a swap. Scope out the area first, and try to decide what section you most want to look through. Swappers move fast, and if you don’t go directly to that area, chances are most of the really great stuff will already be gone. Feel free to just grab anything that catches your eye – you can always weed out items that don’t fit or aren’t exactly what you were looking for later. Almost everyone grabs something that they end up not wanting, so double check the tables after you’ve looked through everything, to see if there are new items available.

You may not find the perfect pair of shoes or the trendiest new clothes, but then again, you just might. Plus, there’s no buyer’s remorse, so you can try out something you might not commit to in a store.  So give it a try- you could walk out with a bag full of great clothes and maybe (like me) a newfound love of swapping.

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