Swap X was an important accomplishment for me, and we are innovating in the next one – see you next Saturday for fashion joys and Belgian beer – so I’m marking it with a personal recap of all garments I’ve ever taken from the swaps I’ve organized. In total, 18 items / 10 events = 1.8 per swap. And 12/18 are still in my wardrobe. Only in the first swap I was apparently so excited about having pulled together an actual event where my envisioned swapping magic could happen I didn’t even look for things…
Swap I – October 1, 2016.
Nothing, according to my data… I know, cute.
Swap II – January 28, 2017.
(1) Liisa MnS lace dress (out in Swap V) and (2) Liisa velvet skater skirt. This was so funny for us because I was hanging out with Liisa so often then we could’ve done this without organizing an event. I love it when people tell me of similar swap interactions: ‘I picked up this and this amazing thing, and you know what, my best friend had brought them here, isn’t that cool?’ It is, darling, it is the coolest thing.
The lace dress was clearly not meant for repeated rough wear, and piled and felted with other layers. I wasn’t familiar with de-pilling technology back then, so out it went after 20 wears. A good bodycon has been on my swap wishlist since then. The velvet skater skirt is still going strong at 63 wears.
Swap III – May 27, 2017.
(3) Julie cardigan (out in Swap IX) and (4) HnM striped mini. I wore that cardigan 96 times (plus some uncounted lounging around the house) before I grew tired of it and passed it along. The little skirt is at 31 wears and has been difficult this winter: it requires a pair of black opaque tights to be worn comfortably, and in Barcelona that means November-February only. Maybe I’ve just outgrown little jersey miniskirts? It’s an unclear ‘stays’ at this point, it will have until the end of 2019 to prove its worth.
(5) Laura polka dot dress (out in Swap V) and (6) Esprit floral shirt (out in Swap IX). The blue dress was pretty, twirled beautifully, and so plastic it suffocated me as if I was a sausage in cellophane. So out it went after 11 wears. The Esprit shirt was 100% cotton, beautifully finished, and oh! that floral pattern… but just too big for me. For it to keep a cool shape I needed to be very crafty with my waistlines, otherwise it just looked sloppy. So 51 wears and by-bye.
Swap V – February 3, 2018: recap post.
(7) Forever 21 and (8) Atmosphere shorts. This is where my swap finds started to slide into loungewear… happily, so far. Both are with me still, most of their wears not counted (in the spreadsheet: 66 for the t-shirt, 31 for the shorts) as I mostly lounge around in these. I already mended a hole in the t-shirt – it is flimsy Forever 21 cotton mix jersey, after all – and it’s getting some new ones. Help, where will I find another incredibly soft and perfectly body-hugging t-shirt??? …at the next swap, I hope.
(9) Home slippers, (10) winter gloves, and (11) Zara cardigan. This one went really well, mostly thanks to Margareta who had seen my wishlist online, spotted these things at the swap, and then just gave me the slippers and the gloves. The gloves are what they look like, basic and protect my hands from the bicycle wind. The slippers were exactly what I wanted: loafer style, warm and fluffy, rigid sole, *my size and width*, and made in Spain… I still have them but the sole is crumbling away, so – despite my efforts with the glue – they will end in textile garbage pretty soon. But what a glorious ride it has been!
The cardigan stands at 87 wears now. I did a basic mending of a hole it had when I picked it up and then added a fun ribbon (with duckies; from Carmen’s archives) on top of it to begin with, and now it’s unraveling again. Oh, Zara, you and your stupid nylon/cotton blends not meant for walking… my new plan is to just embroider it all over the edges, hopefully in the style of Liza Smirnova (especially, this!) and Ezra W. Smith. A glorious 3-in-1 plan: (a) mending the unraveling parts, (b) learning to embroider, and (c) improving this little cardigan beyond the wildest dreams of its creators. Hell yeah!
Swap VII – September 15, 2018: recap post.
(12) Pink lounge kaftan. A no brainer: the thinnest viscose posible for the those summer days when having a thin layer of fabric feels better than the naked stickiness… Barcelona, pum-pum-pum-pum-pum, Barcelona, oooooh! The material is very flimsy and the hem splits are already breaking, we’ll make an assessment once the summer is over.
Swap VIII – December 1, 2018: recap post.
(13) Fake Vans slippers (out in Swap X) and (14) black Mucha dress. I really like the idea of skater slip-ons, but Vans are just not good enough people to buy them new… and these ones turned to be made for sitting, not walking. despite being my size and having a pretty pattern, that sole was basically cardboard and 12 wears was I all I could do in these. I haven’s worn the black Mucha dress yet (what is a Mucha dress in my head? here), but have high hopes for it to fill the relaxed flapper summer dress void in my heart…
(15) Bershka cutback (out in Swap X) and (16) Benetton pink sweater. These are results for my perfect top quest. The cutback top had me widgeting with the bra all the time, so 13 wears together was all we could do. The wool Benetton one, after Mara’s embroidery intervention and some de-pilling, and ten wears, is now happily waiting for cold weather to come again.
Swap X – May 11, 2019: recap post.
(17) Red lounge pants and (18) yellow lounge pants. It has been only a month, but the red ones are happily integrated in my wardrobe and oh! so comfy. The yellow ones need that elastic change, I’ll keep you posted once that happens.
So, what have we learned, folks? That swaps are great! It is the perfect playground to do so many things, and there is time for browsing even if your are organizing/helping out, wink-wink… You can experiment, and bring things back if they didn’t work. You can radically reduce your wardrobe knowing that garments are not scarce and you can always fill it again. You can pick up wacky garments for your upcycling and refashioning projects.
My strategy by now is that of having a clear, very visual, very exact wishlist (Pinterest is my tool of choice for that) but then still be flexible if something that truly speaks to your most authentic self jumps at you.
What have been your best swap/second-hand/hand-me-down finds? Do you have an explicit strategy for these events/places? Are you more of a wishlist person or the intuitive picker?