Clothes Swapping is Where its At

10:47 AMHeather

If you are reading this and have not read the last few posts, you might want to go back and get caught up.  Because this blog post will make a lot more sense if you do.  And, you'll understand it when I say--y'all, I am not making this stuff up.  Yesterday, I talked about how I think God is punking me.  

Today, I am telling you--over and over and over again.  It's becoming nearly comical.  It's sorta like when you are first engaged, and suddenly everywhere you look, you keep hearing about weddings.  Or when you are first pregnant, and suddenly the world is full of waddling moms-to-be and adorable babies that aren't even half as cute as you KNOW your newborn will be.  Or you learn a new word, and it keeps popping up.

Yeppers.  7.  Jen Hatmaker.  Excess.  7.  Jen Hatmaker.  Gratitude.  Contentment.  And on and on and on.  

This past Tuesday, I finally wrapped up chapter one of 7, and moved on to chapter two.  (If you are new here, that would be the book 7:  An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker).    Chapter two is about reducing excess with your clothes and having a clothes fast.  Jen's approach was to choose 7 items of clothing, and that was her wardrobe for an entire month.  

Here's the chain of my texts with Amy regarding my initial reaction.  (P.S.  Amy--I hope you don't mind becoming my 7 Therapist and me posting all our texts here on the world wide web).

Me:  I'm reading the chapter on clothes.  I'm having second thoughts.

Amy:  R U serious?  (Amy knows proper texting codes...I do whole sentences)

Me:   Naw.  But she needs to quit getting so personal.  Geez.  This won't be easy.  That reality is sinking in.  When you mess with my clothes.  Is it excess to get a stylist to choose the 7 essentials for a fab wardrobe?!  Just kidding.  Sorta.      P.S.  Why no, no I'm not avoiding further conviction by texting you endlessly 

It made me squirm to consider cutting my wardrobe to 7 items for a whole month.  Guess that was my first clue that perhaps I am more of a clothes horse than I'd care to admit?  I've been blessed with some beautiful things bought for me.  I tend to justify them since I paid nada, nada, lemonada for them.  But, they can be excess nonetheless.

I climbed into bed to finish reading the chapter on clothes.  And she began to describe a clothes swap party.  Where you bring things that don't fit you or you're tired of (hello!  Rich People Problem)You leave with other people's cast-offs.  Shopping for free and no participating in the multibillion dollar consumerism of American clothing.

Wait a minute.  At boot camp the DAY BEFORE, Jessica had asked me if I wanted to go to a clothes swap that our fellow boot camper, Haley, was hosting.  

I heard the theme song from Twilight Zone.  Coincidence?  I don't think so.

The next morning at BC, I asked Haley.  IndeedShe'd just read 7.  It's where she got the idea for the clothes swap.  Now, I knew.  It was official.  I HAD to be there.  It was as though an audible voice from heaven told me so.

So, here's my summary of the Clothes Swap party I attended last night.  I found 11 items in my closet to bring to Haley before the swap.  They were to be gently worn, and could be clothes, jewelry, purses or shoes.  That meant I could leave with 11 items.  Woo-hoo!  

I realized that I NEEDED a large purse to use as a carry-on for a trip.  Needed of course.  Not wanted.  (oh, how we have blurred the lines.  Jen H is so right about that).  I was hopeful that I might find just such a purse at the swap?!

I'm no dummy.  I showed up exactly at start time.  Nothing like free shopping to make me punctual.  That and a come-to-Jesus meeting with some of my children that involved tears, frustration, and finally some resolution.  I was emotionally drained.  Retail therapy needed!  Especially this kind.  Did I mention--it's FREE?  

Haley obviously has the gift of hospitality and organization.  Bloggy friends, she had adorable signs and beautifully organized areas for each type of clothing or accessory.  Even dressing room signs on the bedroom doors near the swap area.  I dug in.  And felt a little selfish grabbing such cute things in my armful of goodies to try one, while working to appear polite and not so eager to my fellow shoppers.  Satisfied with my clothing stash, I turned to the purse table.

There was this ray of light from heaven shining down upon a little black purse.  Better than the dozens of rejects in my quest for a cute little black purse.  Plus, you can't beat the price.  And RIGHT NEXT TO IT, there was a big black leather purse.  The perfect size for my carry on!  Better than I'd envisioned.  I tried to not jump across the room to grab these items before anyone else did.

Before I tried on my clothes, I spied a gorgeous suede blazer.  It looked a little small for me, but I knew when I inspected it that it would look super cute on my friend, Marquette.  Sure enough, it was meant to be.  And it still had the tags on it.  I was elated.  Is there a better feeling than matching up a sweet friend with a perfect clothes item?
I tried my clothes on and walked away with 8 super cute items.  2 pairs of jeans, 2 purses, and 4 shirts.  I didn't even care that it wasn't 11 because I loved everything I chose.  While I was making my final decisions, a friend was trying on a dress, unsure about taking it home.  I told here, "Friend, that is FREE.  Take it home.  If you aren't sure, bring it back to the next clothes swap!"  (Please, please...let there BE a next clothes swap).

As true moms do, we bantered about our feelings of guilt as we shopped.  This time, not about your parenting, but about taking all the good items.  We asked each other's opinion...does this make me look fat?  Is the length okay?  It was like junior high all over again, only I mean just the fun parts.  And all my fellow boot campers and I laughed about seeing each other in regular clothes, full make-up, and hair done.  And in the light rather than the dark driveway where we work out at 5 am.

And JUST when I thought it couldn't get better, I won a door prize.  A zebra print robe.  ADORABLE!  So, I finally made my way downstairs to the food and was truly in awe then.  There was a gorgeous spread of delicious food.  WHAT?  FREE shopping.  New clothes.  A door prize.  AND, a food table that looked straight out of a magazine?  Complete with little cute labels for each item?  Haley is setting the bar high.  On the way over, I thought about hosting the next one.  Now, I'm not so sure that I want to follow after her.

So, listen.  Here's my synopsis.  As Amy told me before I went, a clothes swap is way better than a cookie exchange.  You will not need to spend hours baking dozens of cookies.  Unless you are the host and want to outdo Haley.  

Of course, you don't have to do it all fancy and professional.  When women are walking out with an armful of clothes that didn't cost a penny, they'd be perfectly happy with no food at all.  Or a couple boxes of girl scout cookies thrown on a table.  Just pick a date, send an evite, have everyone bring their items the week before or at least a couple days before.  Organize the items with a girlfriend.  You can use ladders between chairs to hang the clothes.  And enjoy the fun! 

A clothes swap party?  LOVE.  Why did it take nearly 42 years before I found such perfection?  I think the other shoppers and I will enjoy seeing each other around the neighborhood wearing each other's things.  I know I'll have a sense of satisfaction that someone else can enjoy what was just hanging in my closet being ignored.  Plus, kinda fun to make recycling clothes cool.  I think Jen Hatmaker would be proud.

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