Seasonal style trends and the intrigue of the fashion world are pretty seductive at first glance, but when it comes to defining one’s sustainable style, there are a variety of threads to investigate. In addition to supporting eco-designers who create collections that smartly incorporate sustainable textiles, fair trade practices, and environmentally-responsible agendas, there are also some pretty cool ways to have an eco-friendly wardrobe without ever spending a penny. Enter the new clothing swap phenomena, or the ‘art of the swish’.


Swishing is essentially the party version of free, second-hand clothes rustling. It is a fun and organized way to clean out your closet, get together with good friends, and swap-out your unwanted clothes. Said to have been started in London, Swishing is likely more well known here in the States as a “Switch-N-Bitch.” And sure there are clever ways to recycle old clothes into gorgeous upcycled creations, but not everyone has the time or the know-how for such domestic undertakings.

The added advantage of clothes swapping is that it gives party-goers the opportunity to hang out together, share in food and drink, and essentially riff on the art of recycling by serving as stylists for one another. Of course, this is also a great opportunity to build community and chat up a storm about the state of the world as well as making a difference right at home.

The basic rules for a Swishing Party are as follows.

1. Choose a location that has some space as you’ll have a people trying on outfits and flinging clothes left and right.

2. Invite all your friends through Facebook or an Evite. Tell everyone to bring clothes they are tired of or don’t fit. Bring shoes, belts, accessories, clothing, books, whatever, as long as they are still in good condition. Remember one person’s old clothes are another’s dream outfit.

3. You can get as fancy or as informal as you want to display clothes, (usually, at our parties there are so many clothes they end up as heaps on the ground). Have a number of mirrors available throughout the room.  When everyone arrives, it is essentially a free-for-all.  You can wait for everyone to get there if you have punctual friends, but don’t wait for too long.

4. Generally, whoever claims something first has dibs.  If there is a conflict between people as to who gets a piece of clothing, each person models the item for the group, and the group votes for who it looks best on.  Another rule is that you should never feel obligated to take something unless you love it.

5. At the end of the party, each person will go home with treasures and wonderful finds, but there will also be lots of leftovers.  Whoever hosts the party is responsible for taking all these items and donating, upcycling or selling to consignment.

For those of us who are going green this holiday season by not shopping and reversing the annual consumer trend, consider swishing as the perfect, stress-free way to empty your closet of unwanted items. Going to others who will wear them rather than the dump, swishing is also a great way to rustle up something fabulous with old friends.

+ Swishing

+ Treehugger Swishing How To

+ Swishing or Swap ’til You Drop