Clothing swaps: saving money could ruin friendships

It seems like every personal finance guru on the planet is recommending clothing swaps as a fun, easy way of getting some new clothes and getting rid of some old ones. Just invite your friends over, have drinks, watch a Corey Feldman movie, and swap clothes!

Even celebrities are jumping on the clothing swap trend. US Weekly reports that "Newly-single Reese Witherspoon's idea of a fun Friday night? A clothing swap party with pals! 'There are three of us who wear pretty much the same size,' the mom of two tells InStyle UK mag. 'I wore my girlfriend's dress to a wedding recently. It's fun.' "

Jen Schefft, a former contestant on The Bachelor, recently gave The Los Angeles Times some tips on how to hold a clothing swap. The term "clothing swap" even has its own Wikipedia page.

I'm normally a fan of creative ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle, and saving money is always a good thing. But a clothing swap strikes me as a major party foul, and -- unless you are a member of The Plastics and all of your friends are similarly wealthy, thin, and busty -- could lead to some seriously awkward situations.

  • What better way to accentuate the differences in your body types than to have a clothing swap? "Oh, sorry Millie, but as nice as those jeans are, I don't think your thunder thighs are going to squeeze into them. It's a shame that I'm not a little heftier!"
  • "You're having a clothing swap without me?" "Well it's nothing personal but let's be honest: You've packed on a lot of weight over the years, and there's no way you're going to fit into any of our clothes and no way I'll fit into your clothes unless Sharon and I team up to try on your skirts."
  • "Why would we invite Eda to our clothing swap? She buys her clothes at WalMart! No way I'm trading my Prada for her Faded Glory!"
A better alternative to a clothing swap? Donate your old clothing to a thrift for the (admittedly very small) tax deduction. Or, take your better stuff to a consignment shop. If you have a close friend who has a similar size and style, then by all means, trade some clothes. But a clothing swap party has a lot of potential for awkwardness, insecurity, and self-loathing.
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