A good bargain never goes out of style. It’s even more fashionable when it’s free! That’s why this past summer we dished our insider tips on one of our favorite pastimes—thrifting! (Check out Thrifting 101.) Ever since, we’ve become even bigger fans of swapping. Trade in your old threads for new closet additions at little to no cost. There are so many ways to try it—on the web, at the store, or among trendy girlfriends. Here’s how . . .


The major perk of swapping online is the opportunity to swap clothes even when they’re out of season. There’s someone on the other side of the globe waiting to swap their designer trench coat for your gently-worn sundress. The downside is that you have to take the time to photograph the actual item. Remember, presentation and lighting is key! We recommend adding personal flair: Attach cute ribbons with the price tag, display on a vintage mannequin, and definitely photograph against a solid (preferably white) background. The more you put into presentation, the more value it adds to your listed item.

Sites to try . . .

On this invitation-only marketplace, you can post your closet and buy, sell, swap, rent, or lend with other style mavens. The system lets you offer one, two, or three items per swap (ideal for trading multiple accessories for a dress). I-ELLA also partners with fashion savvy celebs who auction off items from their own closet (75% of proceeds goes to a foundation of the celebrity’s choice). What’s not to love?! The huge bonus: 10% of every transaction goes to the user’s charity choice.

Browse the website, and, if anything catches your eye, contact the owner to organize a swap. Next, you both mail your items to one another and, once they arrive, you each leave the other a token on the website to let others know that they are trustworthy. You can even swap cosmetics and entertainment items (DVDs, books, cameras)! And it’s all free. You simply pay shipping fees.

All swap, no sell, this site makes it simple to search by category. You can filter your finds by type of clothing or accessory, brand or size. There’s 99 cent charge to evaluate your account for each swap. Users manage their own shipping policies.


One way to surpass any sort of service or shipping fees is to go directly to a thrift store. You usually get a better deal for swapping your items. For instance, most thrift stores will offer you a higher value in store credit than in cash. NYC’s Beacon’s Closet gives 35% cash or 55% store credit of the very price tag that they put on your items. The disadvantage of in-store swapping is that some stores are super selective. Most places only take items that are wearable for that season, so you may have to rethink your Spring cleaning strategy. In other words, when you’re replacing your summer tanks with Fall sweaters, put aside unwanted sweaters for your next thrift store trip. Store your unwanted summer pieces for a thrift run during warmer months. Visit TheThriftShopper.com, a national thrift store directory for a shop near you.

In Person

Make it social. Websites like Clothesswap.meetup.com let you search by city or zip code for local clothing swap gatherings. It’s free, and you can also arrange for a swap between your personal groups. Or you can organize a swapping party on your own and invite your girlfriends. Get disposable champagne flutes, or cheap ones from the dollar store, and a few bottles of champagne—or even ask your guests to bring a bottle. Skip the hors d’ourves to avoid unwanted soiling of clothes. Create a chic e-vite at a website like cocodot.com (the more official it looks, the more quality items friends will bring).

Happy Swapping!

-Audra E. Lord

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