whoever you want to be…

One (wo)man’s trash…

You will no doubt have heard the phrase ‘one (wo)man’s trash is another (wo)man’s treasure.’ Don’t believe it? Then you’ve obviously never been to a swish. A what? I hear you ask, as well you might. Allow me to explain.

As the economy spirals out of control and people feel the ever more pressing need to tighten their belts financially, a revolution is occurring. Though still small, the swishing movement is gathering momentum – even Marks and Spencer has got in on the act hiring Joanna Lumley as the face for its ‘Schwopping’ clothes recycling initiative.

Put simply, a swish is a gathering of people (most likely women, but in the name of equality let’s not exclude the boys) with the sole intention of swapping unwanted clothes. I say that’s the sole intention, but in reality it’s as much about socialising over a few glasses of Pinot Grigio and some sausage rolls as it is about the clothes – though that’s not to say they aren’t still the star of the show.

My first experience of swishing was couple of years ago, when I was invited to my friend Susy’s house for a clothes swapping soiree. Intrigued but also somewhat puzzled I turned up at the house with the three items of clothing, bottle of wine and wrapped up accessory the instructions had bidden me bring. Ever the glamorous hostess, Susy whisked away my items into a back bedroom and furnished me with a glass of wine before leading me into the living room where a number of other ladies were settling in for the night ahead.

Half an hour later and the booze and conversation were both in full flow. Susy breezed into the room carrying a number of posh shopping bags and gave one to each person. Inside, she explained, were three items of clothing. There would be three ‘rounds,’ during which everyone would have to ‘sell’ one of their items to the rest of the group – the aim being to generate interest in said item. If, at the end of the description more than one person was interested the item would go in the middle of the room to be decided upon later. If only one person wanted it, they could have it. And if nobody wanted it then it would go into another pile to be taken to a charity shop the following day. It really couldn’t have been more efficient.

By the end of round one we were howling with laughter at one another’s ‘selling’ techniques, and many of the items were in demand. Susy explained that the next step was to have a break during which the interested parties could try on the items and decide whether they wanted to ‘fight’ for them by way of a game of paper, scissors, stone. Cue more hilarity, as everyone bundled into the bedrooms to communally change.

(Side note: The nice thing about swishing parties is that, surprisingly enough, the vast majority of people are genuinely happy to hand over an item to someone else if they feel it looks better on the other person. Perhaps I’ve just been lucky in the parties I’ve attended, but there’s always been a refreshing camaraderie that really challenges the bitchy fashion industry stereotypes we’re fed in buckets by the media – and, indeed, in female clothes shops themselves, where stick thin assistants sneer at your choice of skirt with a ‘how can you think you look good in that?’ raise of their painted-on eyebrow).

After the third round Susy introduced her own little twist to the swish, bringing out the wrapped up accessories and distributing them so that everyone had one that was different to the one they’d brought. It was a lovely thought for everyone to give and receive a present, particularly for those who hadn’t found anything they’d liked in the clothes rounds. Gifts ranged from belts to brooches to hair clips and even toiletry sets, hair products and scarves. Most people were delighted with theirs, and even those who weren’t managed to trade with other people to get something they wanted.

Next up was the ‘luxury rail’ round, where Susy wheeled out a clothes rail containing those items she had deemed the most luxurious. Anyone who hadn’t found something they liked in the earlier rounds could have first pick from the rail (prompting groans from those who had taken things they weren’t really that keen on and had now fallen in love with something on the rail), after which the usual rules applied. Finally, the remaining items were brought in for everyone to sift through before unwanted items were again consigned to the now sizeable charity pile.

If I haven’t sold them to you after reading the above, here’s my final sell: Swishing parties are free, they’re fun and they provide a legitimate opportunity to get twenty friends in a room together and drink vast quantities of wine whilst gossiping non-stop. They negate the need to spend hours squeezing into tiny shop changing rooms being gawped at and judged by strangers and, what’s more, they even give back to society at large by providing clothes for charity shops.

Several swishes down the line I find myself wearing some of my spoils more often than the clothes I’ve bought. But don’t just take my word for it; why not hold a swish yourself? Here’s a recap of the rules:

  1. Everyone must bring a minimum of three items of clothing (ideally lots more!)
  2. Items MUST be in good condition (as you would like to receive them-because who is going to want the grotty old tracksuit bottoms that have been languishing in your drawer for ten years?)
  3. Everyone must bring a bottle of wine
  4. A wrapped gift is an optional extra, but best to decide whether or not you want this feature in your party and, if yes, make it compulsory that everyone brings something so no guest is left empty handed
  5. The hostess (and helpers, if necessary) sorts through the clothes while the guests mingle, dividing them into three piles: General (for the main rounds – three good quality items per person), Luxury (those ‘special’ items that will elicit gasps of wonder) and Everything Else (items that don’t make the grade for the other two categories and can come out at the end for the free for all)
  6. Each round, guests take it in turns to ‘sell’ one item in their bag to the rest of the group
  7. If only one person likes the item they can have it
  8. If nobody likes the item it goes into the charity pile
  9. If more than one person likes the item it goes into the middle to be tried on at the end of the round
  10. After everyone has tried on what they like, contenders ‘fight’ for the items they want by playing paper, scissors, stone
  11. Loo/snack/refill/cigarette/gossip breaks between each round – you don’t want your guests being hungry or needing a wee!
  12. After the third round distribute the wrapped gifts


About Belle365

Hi, I’m Belle. Thanks for stopping by. Here's a list of ten things about me: 1. I want to write, but rarely do it. This tortures me daily, and, unless I seek to remedy it by writing more often, will continue to torture me until my dying day. 2. I worry: about hate, about greed, about selfishness, about the state of the world my (God willing) children will inherit. I worry about what people think of me. I worry that this makes me shallow. I worry about things happening to my loved ones. I worry how I would cope. I worry that this makes me selfish. I worry that worrying will send me to an early grave. But I'm so good at worrying that I also wonder what I would do if I wasn't worrying. Probably more writing (see point 1)....Oh. 3. I see myself as two people (though, as far as I am aware, I am not technically schizophrenic): a) the fancy dress loving party girl, who loves nothing more than having fun with her friends, because she has seen through her own experiences that life is short, so why not enjoy the ride? b) the more serious and reflective person who wants to learn and to help people and to find her higher purpose (I suspect it is also she who really, really wants to write). Sometimes these sides are conflicting. Fortunately they are in total agreement when it comes to chocolate, red wine and travel. 4. I don't see myself as an ardent feminist, but the older I get the more frustrated I feel by the societal view of women and ageing. Having just hit the metabolically displeasing age of 35 (now officially past it according to the massive wankflap that is Donald Trump, as well as virtually every media outlet on the planet, whether they overtly state it or not) I hate the fact I am made (and have let myself be manipulated) to feel that my fertility is now teetering on the edge of a clifftop free fall, and that even if I do negotiate this rocky march towards infertility and manage a miracle procreation, my usefulness as a financially solvent career woman will be over, seeing as having a baby in your mid to late thirties is pretty much akin to career suicide. It's enough to make you want to drown yourself in a vat of wine (hence why I often don a wig and do just that - see point 3a). 5. The older I get, the more I realise that you are never too old to love drum and bass (whether you are ever too old to publicly dance to drum and bass is an issue I am currently grappling with). Ditto UK garage. I will never be ashamed of these two great loves. Never. 6. Speaking of great loves, I have two: my husband, who (sickening as it is) completes me, and Leonardo DiCaprio, whom I have loved since I first laid eyes on him as Romeo to Kate Winslet's Juliet, and will love until my dying day (likewise the husband, all being well). As much as I like Kate Winslet, I will never forgive her for leaving him on that door. There was definitely room for two. 7. I am riddled with self doubt, and have a serious case of imposter syndrome, particularly in relation to my fourteen year communications career. I have never understood how anyone could deem me capable of running their campaigns. The lack of complaints would suggest I haven't made a total balls up of it so far. But there's still time. 8. Infinity and death frighten me senseless. I can't even talk about the universe without breaking into a sweat. I need to believe in life after death because death CANNOT be the end. I should probably have some (more) counselling to address these issues. 9. If procrastination were an Olympic sport, I would win Gold, Silver and Bronze (to give an example, I sat down an hour ago to work on my new novel, and instead have been updating this bio. I refer you to point 1. Sigh). 10. I make more lists than Buzzfeed. When I die, besides having Oasis's Champagne Supernova played at my funeral (deep breaths - see point 8), I should probably have a To Do list inscribed on my headstone for when I reach the other side...


This entry was posted on July 30, 2013 by in Bea Adventurous and tagged , , , , , , , , , , .
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