Invite a fun crew, put on a playlist, offer snacks, and get ready to revamp your closet.

By Anna Maltby and Rachel Sylvester
Updated August 27, 2019
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Credit: Giacomo Bagnara

One of the easiest—and most fun—ways to reduce your impact on the earth is to host a clothing swap. That’s because keeping clothing in use helps combat the destructive “disposable fashion” trend. Over the past few decades, the fashion industry has exploded, making fabrics and constructing clothing more quickly and cheaply than ever, so we buy more and wear items less.

In fact, according to a McKinsey report, the average consumer bought 60 percent more clothing in 2014 than they did in 2000, and kept clothing items for about half as long—sometimes tossing clothes after only seven or eight wears. The result: “Textiles are one of the fastest growing categories of waste in U.S. landfills,” says Elizabeth Cline, author of The Conscious Closet: The Revolutionary Guide to Looking Good While Doing Good ($16; amazon.com).

So while investing in quality clothes you’ll love for a long time is a great idea, you can also get a cheaper fashion fix by shopping secondhand—or just shopping your friends’ closets. And you can extend the life of your own clothes by keeping them in great condition and passing them on to someone else who will love them after you’re done. Below, advice from Cline on how to host a successful clothing swap.

Keep standards high: Tell people to bring items they’d be confident giving as gifts—no ripped or stained sweatpants, please.

Organize it: Sort by category—dresses, tops, pants, shoes—and by size, if you have enough items.

Display everything: Set items on folding tables or racks so the haul is easy to sift through. The floor or sofa will also do.

Plan for try-ons: Set aside a bathroom or bedroom as a changing room, and place at least one full-length mirror somewhere easy to access.

Have a post-swap plan: Give friends the option to take unclaimed items back. For the rest, arrange a pickup or drop-off with an organization that accepts donations.