As a frequent swapper for several years online and at swishing events, I just can’t resist a bargain, particularly if I scavenge for it. I’m like a bloodhound on the scent for style. On a swap day, it goes as follows: out comes the suitcase, in goes unloved scraps and off I happily trundle to the pub, trailing my case like a tattered Mary Poppins person. Not everyone’s idea of a great day but then I get the last laugh while I wave 30 items I would have had to pay a small fortune for on the high street in front of their envious noses. Gone are the days where I agonise over what I can buy on a tiny budget, now I can have anything in the room I like the look of for only a small entrance fee (and if I really do want something in a shop/online, I can buy it without feeling like I’ve set fire to my bank account as it’s a rare occasion).
There is always a steady stream of items to be grabbed, lots of craning of necks when a new victim arrives clutching their bag of crap we all covet as potential treasures and although the venue does resemble a jumble sale, there is no pushing, shoving or scratching going on. Camaraderie is a pleasant part of my swapping experience. Often when someone tries something on in the mirror I butt in and tell them it looks great (and if it doesn’t) and if they aren’t sure, suggest ways for them to style it, only for others to chip in excitedly and before long, she’s taking it home. It’s like a job in sales with intangible commission.
If you get bored of your stash within a few weeks, bring it back and recycle it for someone else to claim. It’s also a great way to try an item, colour or style to see if it works for you without wasting your pennies and in my case, find things that I never knew I wanted to try until I came across them (sheer shirts, I’m looking at you).
I should point out the one downside to swapping is just like shopping in a charity shop, if you find something you like that isn’t in your size, step away and mourn for a second. But only for a second. There’s plenty more fish in the sea. And sometimes you may have the luck of finding the exact same thing or something similar in your size at the next swap. I have.
From high street to designer to vintage, you’ll find a wealth of items to grab your attention at a swap. Fashion and style experimentation has never been so affordable and if you must be a consumer of garments (and I insist on being so), there’s no better way to do it.