Swap for the Holidays

by Kim Kuhteubl
I was a vintage store hunting, Goodwill shopping teenager before it was hot (and necessary) to be green and since I don’t have a sister’s closet to raid, I’ve found another solution for my wardrobe deficits and budget constraints, friends.

I’ve inherited some of my best outfits from friends who have lost weight, gained weight, worn it once or never worn it. Recently, I came into a series of “clubbing tops” from a friend who is moving to Italy for a three-month adventure. The tops made her feel sexy in her 20s but at thirty-one, she’d decided it was time to let them go. Remarkably these gems are still in style but better still, we bonded as I tried them on and she shared memories of her life before we met. Today when I put on the pink one with the fringe, I smiled to myself at the thought of her, which is probably why I find the idea of a Holiday Clothes Swap so appealing.

To swap, invite a group of friends to bring gently used but still stylish purses, clothes, shoes and accessories over to your house to trade. Serve cider or eggnog – spiked – hors d’oeuvres and sweets and you’ve got a different kind of holiday gift giving exchange. Not only might you score an ensemble for New Year’s Eve but you’ll be doing your community a service when you donate the items that don’t get chosen to a local charity like Loaves & Fishes, Out of the Closet or Safe Horizon.

Some people are freaked out about wearing other people’s clothes. My mother doesn’t get it. She grew up poor wearing other people’s hand-me-downs by necessity and always felt ashamed for doing it. An Ex of mine couldn’t get over how gross he felt in the 70s outfit we bought for him at a vintage store to wear to a fundraiser, even though I washed it twice before he put it on.

As Webster defines them, hand-me-downs have been “discarded by another” and are “ready-made and usually cheap and shoddy”. So how about friend-me-down?

Here’s how I’d use it in a sentence: Today I realized that 70% of the wardrobe I’m wearing is friend-me-downs. I couldn’t be happier. What do you think?

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