17/07/2013 08:59 BST | Updated 15/09/2013 06:12 BST

How to Get a New Wardrobe Without Spending a Penny


Every once in a while, I stand in front of my wardrobe and hate everything in it. Things have either become too small, too big, too old or I just feel meh about them. Put this alongside some dubious fashion purchases that have only been worn once, or in some cases not at all, and suddenly the desire for new clothes becomes overwhelming. This blog is about how once a year, my friends and I get an entirely new wardrobe for absolutely nothing and have a great afternoon in the process.

Here's how you do it.

Step one: get some friends. This part of the plan is essential and the one I can't help you with. Step two: invite your friends over for the afternoon. Get them to invite their friends to join in. Step three: get them to bring everything in their wardrobes that they are done with. This also includes the wardrobes of their kids, partners and any other stuff laying around the house. Step four: ply them with cake and cocktails whilst you try on each other's clothes. Step five: take home a new wardrobe's worth of clothes that do fit and you're excited about. Step six: take anything left over to a local women's shelter or charity shop. Simples.

I've subsequently learnt that what we thought was a great idea of ours is actually a growing movement. I've heard of clothes swap parties happening all over Europe and America. Pennies are tight and with changing bodies thanks to pregnancies, weight loss/gain, it's ridiculously expensive to keep having to shop for clothes that actually fit. Clothes swap parties are the new Ann Summers parties, just with fewer vibrators.

This was the second year my friends and I have done this and due to the resounding success of last year's gathering, we had over 30 people wanting to attend round two. As my mates and then their mates started arriving with their bags of clothes, shoes, accessories, my living room began to look like a hoarder's wet dream. Or a jumble sale, but a jumble sale with really nice clothes.

We sorted the offerings into piles of tops, skirts, trousers, kids stuff and so on. We also set up a mini changing room with mirrors so everyone felt comfortable working out what worked for them and what didn't. As we were setting up we realised that a few of the items were being highly coveted by a couple of different people. To avoid any possible confrontation, before anyone could claim anything, we drew numbers out of a hat. Then in order, everyone got to pick the one item that they wanted more than any other. A few people were disappointed but it was the fair way to do it. Then the free-for-all began.

A couple of my friends bought their teenage daughters with them, who also joined in with the spirit of the party and went home with new wardrobes themselves. Without having to spend any money at all, one found a beautiful dress for her prom which had only been worn once, with shoes and a bag to go with it. The other took home a new pair of Doctor Martens and a giant selection of band t shirts. They both said that they were going to pay it forward and organise clothes swap parties of their own.

So next time you stand in front of your wardrobe and hate everything in it, rather than nipping down to the shops and spending money none of us have, why not think about hosting a clothes swap party. It's fun, it's free and best of all, it's a lovely afternoon with your mates. Take it from someone sitting here in a head to toe outfit from that day, sharing is caring and clothes swapping is the way to go!