Monday, March 23, 2015

Revive Your Wardrobe this Spring

There is one closet in my apartment. It is one of the drawbacks to living in an older home. I have still managed to fill this, 2 dressers, a wardrobe, and a few storage containers of Spring/ Summer or Winter/ Fall clothing (whichever seasons aren't happening).

I own a lot of things. A slightly embarrassing amount, really. But I have achieved it all economically. After moving to St. Louis, I got almost all of my clothes at The Scholarshop. Check them and their mission out here. Then I discovered the better Goodwills in town and let's not forget clearance racks.  
But lately (the past 3 years) I've been able to "shop" at clothing swaps around St. Louis. I've gotten more than my money's worth, have been able to completely change over what I own, and feel like a champion. 

Now, let it be said, I don't want to be a clothes hoarder. Before I ever go shopping, I comb through what I don't wear, or don't like anymore and discard. Only after that will I seek out "new to me" things.

Mostly I donate clothes to Revive Thrift Shop. It helps the Mission St. Louis JLT program, and I feel good about the work they are doing in my city.

Then there's the swaps. I am only familiar with 2 and really that's all I've needed to keep covered and layered up for every season.

I often go to Perennial's (and just went last weekend) held once or twice a year. (They also have a clothing swap for men and one for home goods!) 

And then there's the swap that was my introduction to the concept, The Covering House's Swap Till You Drop.  (The next one is April 18th!)


But let me explain something that happens to me at clothing exchanges. After a bit of milling around, surrounded by other people who are finding cute things and apologizing for bumping into strangers with their reusable bag, I start to get a little...frenzied

If you've ever been to the pay-by-the-pound Goodwill, you've seen this happen to a group of people. Swarming, territorial behavior that really someone should study and write a psychology paper about. (Someone do this for your thesis and dedicate it to me! It's a great idea.)

I feel it slowly start to well up in me.  It's an "I want that" mentality that springs to mind when a stranger pushes a hanger over revealing something that may or may not fit, and she starts to reach for it. Maybe I could grab it away. Maybe I could say "look over there" and distract her. Once I even thought of pulling a parka that looked as if it was made of hemp out of a person's over-stuffed bag. "She'd never miss it," I rationalized. I'm not Rastafarian, so why did I want it? Because I could have it.

This is the temptation of free things. It's easy to lose sight of what you need, want, and what is just questionable. I truly get into a bit of an alternate reality thinking. Whatever the reason, the proof is in my bag.

Once I get home from an exchange, I realize first, that I have more than I thought. Mostly I donate more than I take away, but it's still a bit surprising as I hoist it into my car. Then take out the things and spread them out at home so I know how to go about washing them. That is when it starts to dawn on me that, "maybe I shouldn't have brought this home."

I have a very loose concept of what I would wear at a clothing exchange. I won't be wasting my money and it's an opportunity to try something new with no regrets. This is how I came to try high waisted pants, crop tops, started my crochet cape collection, and learned about sweater skirts.

But I have also come away with other treasures like...



a belt with jungle beasts and bejeweled eyes
Nothing say fashion quite like elephants and panthers around your waist. Don't they look scared?




a power drill without bits 
Because sometimes you've got to fix stuff...or be almost ready to fix stuff.


These shoes 
Great for weddings where a certain former someone might be there. Of course he wasn't, and I almost died. 


a polyester vest with a yarn apple on it 
2-4 sizes too large and...why?




high waisted Wranglers that double as a corset. 


A shirt that says "chillin' like a villian" 
made for a child under the age of 5 (One you will immediately regret wearing when you bump into an ex. He didn't see the shoes; he saw a sweated up penguin t-shirt. Awesome.)




And it goes on.

If you want to revive your wardrobe this spring, do it. Follow these simple steps:
1.) Donate first at an organization you can get behind.
2.) Swap without regret. 
3.) Then after you get home see if you too brought home treasure or questionable items.
4.) Re-swap your questionable items...or
5,) Recycle your shouldn't be given away clothes at H&M. 

Did something come over you at your swap experience? Come away with something inexplicable? Not to worry! Tell me about it on the Facebook page. I want to hear about it. We can commiserate.