Swishing – A New Green Craze for Frugal Fashionistas

“That’s so cute! Where did you get that?”

We’ve all said it to our friends, admiring a blouse, a skirt, a purse, or a pair of shoes. And they’ve said it to us. But we all get tired of our own clothes after a while. Instead of running out to the store to pick up a new item for yourself, consider swishing — swapping before shopping — as an environmentally friendly way to get those super-adorable clothes your friends own. Swishing is easy to do, and a fun way to enhance your wardrobe without spending a dime.

Potirala checks out the clothes before her swishing party.

Potirala checks out the clothes before her swishing party.

THE BASICS

The traditional dictionary definition of swishing is “to rustle, as silk.” But Futerra Sustainability Communications, a group advocating for environmentalism through swishing, has redefined the word to mean “to rustle clothes from friends.” Swishing has become a major trend in London, and swishing parties are making their way across the ocean to the United States.

Swishing parties in the U.S. are most commonly found in New York and other metropolitan areas. These parties are known as Swap-O-Rama-Rama workshops and are defined as “where a community explores creative reuse through the recycling of used clothing.” Sound boring? It’s anything but!

Swishing is a great way to prevent older clothes from ending up in the landfill, and it’s really quite simple. If you’re in the UK, you can find times and places of organized swishes on the official Swishing website. If you’re in the US, go to the Swap-O-Rama-Rama website. All you have to do to attend a swishing party is bring at least one piece of fine quality clothing (no rips, holes, or stains allowed), a pair of shoes, or accessories pulled from the corner of the closet you no longer visit. Of course, you are always more than welcome to bring more than one article of clothing. While brand-name garments are great to trade and to receive, it’s not at all a requirement.

Considering a possible swishing find

Considering a possible swishing find. Photo: Sabrina Potirala

Typically, the host serves drinks and food before the swish. Guests can use this time to check out the items that have been collected. Once the swishing begins, it’s a free-for-all. You can leave with as many items as you can get your hands on, but you are not allowed to claim any items before the swish opens. The more people that attend, the more stuff you’ll get!

Typically, at least one organized swish occurs every month. But you shouldn’t feel limited to large-scale, organized swishing parties, because you are more than welcome to host your own. That way, you can keep all the clothes that no one else claims after the party ends, or donate them to charity if you’d like.

I hosted my own party as a way of encouraging friends and acquaintances to become more environmentally friendly about their used clothes. It’s so easy, anyone can do it.

MY SWISHING PARTY

What about this one? Photo: Sabrina Potirala

What about this one? Photo: Sabrina Potirala

Preparing for an evening of swishing is relatively simple and stress free. Since swishing is intended to be a party, I decided to make it feel like one by sending out invitations. Because the success of the party relies on how many people attend, I made sure to specifically include in the invitation that my guests could bring as many people as they wanted.

As a university student, I’m always busy, so I took a simple approach and just made out a general invitation with the date, place, and time. If you are going to host your own party, you can  spruce up the invitation in any way you want. Or, to make it a bit easier on yourself, you can download a pre-made invitation from Swishing.org.

Once I had established the date, time, and number of guests, I collected clothes from guests from a few days to a few hours before the party. About three hours before the swish, I began to display the clothes I had collected. Because of tight space, I had to get a bit creative with laying out the clothes. I hung dresses on hangers from nails in the wall, sprawled clothes over couches and tables, and placed shoes in a single line in the hallway. I even hung clothes on the shower curtain rod.

Swishing expands your wardrobe without costing a dime. Photo: Sabrina Potirala

Swishing expands your wardrobe without costing a dime. Photo: Sabrina Potirala

To make the swish a bit more organized, I separated clothes based on function: formal and casual clothes, dresses, and shoes all ended up in different locations. Nothing about how you place the clothes has to be professional, though, because in a few hours people will be rummaging through things like mad.

I started my swishing party with drinks and snacks that were easy to prepare ahead of time. Although many people who host swishing parties prefer to serve wine, I took the cheaper route and decided to share Kool-Aid and fruit punch with my guests. It might seem silly, but these drinks are far from bland. I spruced mine up by playfully serving them in real wine glasses and by mixing flavors to create something that tasted  “exotic.”

Because I didn’t want to worry about baking treats prior to the party, I bought chips, popcorn, and other simple snacks. To play up the store-bought goodies, I put jelly beans and individually wrapped chocolates in larger glasses, so each guest could have their own. It doesn’t really matter what you serve for snacks — or what you serve them in. Use whatever you have. Make it easy on yourself and have some fun.

Cool shoes! And they're hardly worn. Photo: Sabrina Potirala

Cool shoes! And they're hardly worn. Photo: Sabrina Potirala

When my guests arrived at 7 p.m., I allotted 30 minutes for conversation and snacking. This was also the time when people could sift through the clothes to pick out things they wanted to go for ahead of time. About five minutes before officially opening the swish, I gave a warning so everyone could prepare themselves, followed by a five-second countdown when the time for browsing was over.

This dress still has the price tag on. Photo: Sabrina Potirala

This dress still has the price tag on. Photo: Sabrina Potirala

When the swish opened, people were running around all over the place to get what they wanted. But because we were more of an intimate group than larger, organized swishes tend to be, it wasn’t terribly hectic, and nobody needed to worry about getting trampled over a cute pair of shoes. At the end of the swish, everyone had claimed something new that they loved, and some even walked away with brand-new outfits. It’s certainly an experience won’t soon forget, and because I had so much fun, I plan to host another in the future.

BE GREEN AND SAVE GREEN

Buying new clothing is overrated. The cost of sweaters, purses, shoes, and jeans can add up quickly. Too often, we end up not liking some of those items we “just had to buy.” Before they’re barely worn — or with price tags still on — they get tossed in the trash or neglected in the back of a closet. Swishing is a great way to give clothes and accessories away and get free items in return. Hey, there’s nothing better than free stuff! So get out there and throw a swishing party of your own

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Sabrina Potirala

Contributing Writer

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

Comments

One Response to “Swishing – A New Green Craze for Frugal Fashionistas”

  1. dropjack.com on March 18th, 2009 6:44 pm

    Swishing – A New Green Craze for Frugal Fashionistas : Blue Planet Green Living…

    “That’s so cute! Where did you get that?”

    We’ve all said it to our friends, admiring a blouse, a skirt, a purse, or a pair of shoes. And they’ve said it to us. But we all get tired of our own clothes after a while. Instead of running out to …