How To Host a Clothing Swap – New-to-You Clothes For Free

clothing swap topsFour of the many tops I’ve gotten from clothing swaps

For a few years now I have been attending a clothing swap organized by a friend of a friend, and I love the experience so much that I want to spread the joy. The basic idea is that you take the clothes you never wear and bring them to the host’s house, and then offer each piece up to the others who have attended. Whatever doesn’t get claimed by a new owner goes in a giant pile, and gets taken to Goodwill.

clothing swap peacock topFavorite top for work, and peep toe shoes.

It’s a great way to find a good new home for your own stuff, and to bring new pieces into your own wardrobe. Excellent side effect: making new friends. I never take pictures at these events so I’m just using pictures of just a few of the items I’ve added to my wardrobe over the years that way.

Clothing swap skirtBlack and white cotton skirt. I only wore this once and brought to next swap

This idea goes along with the capsule wardrobe concept I’ve been practicing for the past several months (read it about it here on my personal site). The goal is to simplify your wardrobe and stop buying new stuff. With a clothing swap, the new stuff was going to be donated anyway so even if you wind up not loving it, you can just pass it on to donation or bring it back to a future clothing swap and see if it can grace someone else’s closet.

How To Host a Clothing Swap

Set a time and date when you can spend at least a few hours going through clothing and trying things on.

Invite people you think would be into this kind of thing. (Friends who don’t like to wear secondhand clothing might not be into this kind of thing.) Tell them to bring their friends too. A good mix of body types means that everyone who comes is more likely to find something she likes.

Tell them to bring clothing, shoes, jewelry, other items they don’t use anymore but are still wearable. Torn, stained, or broken clothing can probably be fixed but aren’t as likely to be claimed by someone new.

Invite people to bring snacks and put out water and other beverages. All that flying clothing and trying on can make your guests thirsty and hungry. Adult beverages are helpful, too.

Have a separate room like a bathroom or bedroom where shy people can try things on. But don’t be alarmed when people just start stripping in your public space. It’s bound to turn into a Loehmann’s dressing room.

Once enough people have arrived with their stuff, take turns presenting your items to the group. You can just put everything out on racks or tables and make it like a shopping event, but it’s more fun to hear the stories behind the cast off clothing. I’ve heard people say “I loved this dress and wore it to 15 weddings. It’s time for it to find a new home.”

So when it’s your turn, hold up your items and tell people about them. “This is an Old Navy fleece, size medium, that I got engaged in. I don’t think the color works on me, though.” When another person is interested, she raises her hand and you toss the item to her so she can try it on. If two or more people want the same item of clothing, they can work out who gets first crack at it.

If nobody wants your sad old item, toss it in the Goodwill pile. This pile will grow as the event goes on. At the end, people might sift through it, giving those things a second glance.

After the event is over, immediately load the leftovers into your car and take them to a donation center.

Then wash the new-to-you clothing items and add them to your wardrobe. Enjoy!

clothing swap tie dye dressFloor-length tie-dyed dress I wear as a swim cover-up. Cheers!


How to Dress a Boy: French Toast Clothing


My 10-year-old son does not care what he wears as long as he can get dressed once and never change his clothes again. Unfortunately for him he is growing very quickly, so that a shirt or a pair of shorts that fit him fine one day looks ridiculous on him the next. Yes, he grows overnight like the Hulk getting angry. On those days I have to send him back to his room to change and thus begins a terrible day.

In addition, being a physical child, he tends to but holes in his clothing. Even the khakis we keep on hand for him to wear to church and the occasional fancy occasion. I remember a certain pair of khakis he put on his body, wore to his first confession at church, and then promptly tore a hole in the knee while horsing around with a friend during the little reception in the church yard after the ceremony.


Anyway, the point is that when I was invited to try out French Toast clothing for kids as part of the Back to School #ScoutBox program from Savvy Sassy Moms, I seized the opportunity to find some sturdy, good-looking clothing for this boy. French Toast makes school uniform clothing for kids, and even though my son’s school doesn’t require uniforms, I still found some classic styles, and colors I wanted to try for him.

IMG_2840Boys’ long-sleeved interlock knit polo, $14

For shirts I chose a short-sleeved polo in his school color (red) and this beautiful baby blue interlock knit long-sleeved polo. The fabric is so soft it feels like he’s already worn it several times, but it looks great on him.

For pants I chose two colors of the same style: adjustable waist double-knee pant. It seems like the solution to my boys’ pants problems! Reinforced knees to prevent tears, and adjustable waist to allow for all of the growing! I thought I’d throw some maroon into the mix because I guess I didn’t get enough of that color when I wore my own uniforms in high school. But that’s another story.

Unfortunately for me this is the only picture from the photo shoot he so begrudgingly allowed that he will let me show you that includes the pants. But actually, I rather love it. Captures his personality perfectly:

IMG_2847Boys’ adjustable waist double-knee pant, $20

He hasn’t worn the clothing to a rough-housing session with his brother or friends, so I can’t yet report on the durability, but they do show promise. And if your kids wear uniform clothing to school, French Toast clothing is a great place to find quality pieces in all the traditional colors and sizes.

Winnie & Kat Women’s Clothing – “Malibu Made”

#romper#blackjumpsuit The romper that I never thought I’d wear

Diane Prince lives in Agoura Hills now, but as a single mom of three living in Malibu, she created Winnie & Kat, a line of fashionable and comfortable women’s clothing sold only through her carefully chosen “stylists.” Living so close to each other and sharing a last name (though not related, not even remotely), you would think we go way back. But Diane and I only recently made an in-person connection at her company’s home office in Westlake Village.

And boy, was I blown away.


Diane is a motivating, dynamic personality and the team of stylists she has assembled – all women, all around the country – seem inspired by her and motivated in turn. Part of the reason she started the business, Diane says, was to empower women.

“’Malibu Made’ refers to the concept of starting out in my garage from my house in Malibu, until we moved to Westlake (office) and Agoura (home) for ease of being a single mom of 3 running a company,” she told me.

wrapshawl lounge pants

“Part of the W&K experience is that women in Malibu, who have access to anything they could possibly want, love our clothes as do women in places where they don’t have easy access to this type of fashion like Fort Smith, Arkansas; Clayton, MO…For example, we have just started booming in Thorne Bay, Alaska”

Indeed, what really makes Winnie & Kat work is the product itself – versatile, comfortable pieces made in downtown Los Angeles.

fleece jacket

Each season W&K rolls out a new line of basic pieces and preserves some that are tried and true. The denim look legging, the fleece jacket, the drapey T-shirt, and the maxi skirt are all emblematic of these quality designs and fabrics with a luxurious feel to them. At a weekday social, guests were served coffee and cupcakes and invited to try on the latest look.

I don’t consider myself into fashion, and I certainly don’t spend much time shopping, but I am as vain as the next woman and when I spun around in the maxi skirt/dress I coveted on one of the stylists to the ooh’s and aah’s of several strangers, I was intrigued. The fabric felt luxurious, the skirt can also be worn as a dress, and putting it on was the easy thing. A black and gray pattern, it goes with anything. In Southern California, it can be worn in any season.

marbled maxi skirt dressIt’s a skirt AND a dress, great for travel!

Emboldened by this instant success, I tried on a few other pieces, knowing I would soon be spending time at a resort in Central America. Winnie & Kat’s summer collection was perfect. Diane generously gave me a handful of designs to show off at the tropical event I was attending.

I was in Costa Rica for 9 days and I practically lived in Winnie & Kat clothing. It can be dressed up or down, serving as loungewear, swimsuit cover ups, or versatile, comfy travel clothing.

multi dress laughing smallPhoto by Cherie-Lynn Buchanan

For me the biggest standout was the romper. It’s a jumpsuit. A jumpsuit – an item of clothing I’ve been ridiculing since seeing grown women wear them to formal events back in June. But as I told Diane, one should not diss a style before one tries it on and sees how amazing it looks on one’s body type.

IMG_5337Photo by Romy Schorr

There is no easier outfit in the universe than this romper, some sparkly sandals, and a pretty necklace. I’m smitten.

You can shop online for Winnie & Kat designs but everything goes through a personal stylist. It is better to attend a home party in person (or host one) so you can try on samples before you order – the sizing can vary for different styles, plus as we all know it’s much easier to tell what works for your body type once you have it on.

Winnie & Kat is always welcoming new stylists, too. The company is only a year old and they are rapidly expanding. The way Diane Prince is forging full steam ahead it seems like her motto should be “Today: Malibu, tomorrow: the world.”

If you are local and would like to have that same introduction to Winnie & Kat that I did (and I recommend it!), attend a Girls’ Night Out or coffee at the Home Office, which they host every month since moving to the Conejo Valley.  For more information or to get involved email or call 855.936.6436