1. Include friends of all sizes and shapes
—and don't leave out your pregnant friends who could be looking for larger items. Because some pieces can be easily adapted to fit various figures by adding a belt
, have one on hand the day of so that guests can see if cinching a roomy top or dress will make it work for them.
2. Host your swap at the end of the season
when people are more likely to be cleaning out their closets and looking for new pieces to freshen up their wardrobes. Send out an Evite
or Facebook invitation
(both save trees and help you track RSVPs) a month in advance to give guests time to prepare and let go of the too-tight, too-short skirt or neon blouse they haven't been bold enough to wear. If you're not opposed to a few extra houseguests, ask friends to spread the word to a stylish friend outside your circle to increase the pot and better everyone's chances of walking away with a good find.
3. Note a minimum and maximum number of items each person should bring
, especially if you do choose to open up the guest list. This ensures there are plenty of quality things to trade but not so much stuff that it becomes overwhelming for you or your friends. And encourage everyone to bring any unwanted clothing, regardless of the weather outside. Tank tops and T-shirts make great layering pieces year round, says Nichelle Stephens, founder of the Fashion Swap and Meet
4. Only things in good condition (washed and ironed) should be welcome.
Gently remind guests on the invitation to clean out their pockets (tracking down an ID card someone mistakenly left in their old jeans is a nuisance worth avoiding) and reserve anything they'd be embarrassed to loan to a friend (stained clothes, moth-eaten sweaters and underwear) for the garbage—not your swap.
5. Add accessories to the mix
(like gently worn shoes, handbags, jewelry, scarves and unopened beauty products). This will ensure that everyone—regardless of size—can find something that fits.
Next: Get the rest of the rules and find out how to keep the process sane