I love to swap

When I read about The Compact in Sunset magazine last December, I knew I wanted to join the group. Their non-consumer, non-materialistic lifestyle was right up my alley and fit right in with my own philosophy.

And I realized that I’d been headed in that direction on my own, not just by buying less stuff but by utilizing the bartering method, in other words- SWAPPING.

My first foray into the swap arena all started with a skirt, the one in these photos. It hung there in my armoire, looking so cute, but every time I tried it on it just looked terrible. I kept trying to figure out how such a cute skirt could look so bad on me. I had gotten it on sale at Anthropologie, one of my favorite stores, but which is impossibly expensive at full price. I couldn’t bring myself to take it to Goodwill, and so the idea of the swap was hatched in my brain. I knew my girlfriends must all have stuff like this- too nice to give to Goodwill, sometimes still with the price tag on, maybe just didn’t fit quite right or you didn’t have the right shoes to wear with it, etc. And so we started the clothes swap, and it was a huge success. We all came away with a bunch of super-cute new items that we loved for FREE. And yes, one of my friends looked fantastic in the brainchild skirt, she wears it all the time, and she just sent me those photos to post.

Since we started the swaps, some of my friends haven’t even needed to shop for new clothes. It’s amazing how something can look so bad on one person and so great on someone else. We all have different body types so we look good in different things. Although one of my friends looks good in almost everything, prompting another friend to exclaim at the last clothes swap, “Is there anything she DOESN’T look good in?”

I like to say our clothes swaps are getting us through the recession in style. And some of the other members of The Compact do swaps all the time- media swaps, craft supply swaps, just about anything you can think of. I’m definitely planning a book swap and kitchen swap sometime this year.

But clothes and books and kitchen supplies are small potatoes! What about swapping your house? That’s what my husband and I did last year, and we had one of the best vacations of our life. We traded houses with a couple in London for 5 weeks through an online company called HomeLink. You list your home with photos and a description of its features and the neighborhood, and then you put it up online and see what offers you get. We get emails all the time from people in France, Spain, Italy, Ireland, and Australia, just to name a few. If you want to visit a certain country, you put out inquiries to listings in that area. We had a fantastic vacation because not only was it infinitely more affordable, but we actually came to love our neighborhood in London and feel like we lived there, if only for a short time. We’re looking forward to traveling this way from now on. I highly recommend it!

Have you ever swapped or bartered clothes or kitchen items or books? What about your house? Please share your thoughts about all things swap-related.


  1. Colleen says

    I just have to say that, as the new owner of that skirt and many other fabulous FREE items, I get compliments from people all the time on the stuff I got at your clothes swap! I already have a box of stuff to bring next year. :)

  2. alunachic says

    Angela, in Richmond we have a monthly event called the Totally Free Market, where people display unwanted stuff and one can have it for free!
    I plan to go next Saturday.
    I really love the swaping post. What a great idea!

  3. Angela says

    I’ve heard of the Really Really Free Market (I think that’s the name)in San Francisco. I love the idea! We may need to start up something like that in Los Angeles…

  4. lala2074 says

    Angela, I used to have the same problem with buying expensive clothes that I loved the look of, and then not wearing them because somehow they didn’t look right on me and I didn’t understand why.
    I eventually came to an understanding and educated myself about different styles to suit my particular body shape ( see Body Bible, Trinny Goodall and Susannah Constantine )for priceless information about different styles to suit your particular body shape. I purchased my copy second hand on ebay.
    The second thing which helped was educating myself on colour analysis, so that I now know what colours suit my particular skin/hair/eye combination. I found that “Colour Me Beautiful” was a complete source of this information. I also purchased this book second hand on ebay.
    Now I no longer purchase expensive mistakes. Also, I don’t even waste time taking unsuitable styles and colours into the change room. I can select from colours and styles that suit me, which makes selection so much easier.
    Hope this helps!

  5. Angela says

    Thanks lala2074-
    I definitely find that as I get older, I make less of those “purchasing mistakes” because I usually know what colors look good on me, etc.
    In fact, that skirt may have been my last big shopping error. But we all do seem to end up with enough stuff we don’t wear to continue the swap.

  6. Anonymous says

    I’ve swapped my apartment in Chicago for one week in Milan and another week in the Italian Alps. It was great!


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