Clothes swap events are becoming more and more popular as sustainable shoppers avoid buying new clothes and look to extend the lifetime of their clothing. They’re a great way to encourage the sharing of wardrobes and refresh your wardrobe without spending a cent.

But there’s more to a clothes swap than just rocking up with a bag of clothes and leaving with whatever you want. There’s a couple of steps you can follow to ensure it’s a successful swap and fair haul for everyone involved.

Step 1: Set the date

Let your friends know you’re hosting a clothes swap a couple of weeks in advance. This will give them time to clean out their wardrobes and see what clothes they’d like to contribute to the swap. At this point, it’s a good idea to let them know the type of clothing that will be acceptable to bring along. You don’t want someone bringing all fast fashion items to swap with someone who has brought along vintage luxury fashion items. More on this later.

Step 2: Pick your crowd

There’s nothing wrong with having a small group of friends for a clothes swap, but if one of your friends is a size 6 and the rest are size 12, you’re going to have a problem. Think about the best way to go about it. If your friends are all different sizes, invite enough people to ensure there’s an adequate number of garments in all sizes.

Step 3: Work out your valuing process

How are you going to value each item for the swap? A pair of Prada loafers aren’t the same value as a Witchery top, but they may be fine to swap with a vintage Cue coat. I suggest arranging the clothes into sections or labelling them with paper tags (see the downloads at the bottom of this article). Either way, you’ll want to separate everyday wear, high quality or luxury garments, and shoes and handbags, and give them a value, ie.
1 Credit – Everyday wear (t-shirts, shirts, shorts)
2 Credits – High value items (designer clothes, evening dresses, coats)
3 Credits – Shoes, handbags

If you know your friends are going to be happy swapping one-for-one, you don’t have to split up the garments, but it can help to avoid awkwardness on the night.

Step 4: Prep your swap shop

When it’s time to host the clothes swap, set up a little area in your house. It’s good to have at least two free-standing racks, a coat/hat stand if you have one, and some shelves or a shoe rack for bags and shoes. You might organise some food and drinks or ask your guests to bring their own.

On the night

Step 5: Valuing the clothes

When people arrive with their clothing and accessories, go through their contributions and assign them a number of ‘credits’ accordingly. At this point you want to implement your planned valuing process. ie. 1 jacket (2 credits), 1 pair of shoes (3 credits), 2 tops (1 credit +1 credit) = 6 credits. You can create your own money or credits out of pieces of coloured card. See the downloads at the bottom of this article. If you’d like to do a one-for-one swap, give the attendees one swap credit per item they contribute.

Step 6: Time to swap

By now everyone will know that they should be taking home the equivalent value of what they brought along. You can have a little bowl where people can deposit their ‘spent’ credit. Get your friends to model their new clothes one at a time so you can all enjoy the show. At the end of the night, if there’s anything left, you can give everyone a chance to take it or give it back to the person who brought it along.

I hope these steps help to make your clothes swap a fun and stress-free event that’s beneficial to all attendees.


  • 2 Clothes racks
  • 1 Hat/coat stand
  • 1 Shoe rack
  • 1 Bowl for collecting ‘spent’ credits
  • Coat hangers
  • Small safety pins (to pin garment tags to garments)

Free downloads (to print):