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Dress Well While Saving The World: The Power of Clothing Swaps

A glimpse into the treasure trove of Aeon Dressmaking and Vintage on Cuba Street.

As we become more aware of fast fashion and environmental issues, we often try to avoid the mall and mass-produced new clothes. To extend the life of existing clothes and to save money, clothing swaps are one option.

Most clothing swaps are private, organized by groups of friends. But Aeon Dressmaking in Wellington is hosting a mega-clothing-swap on March 15th, with a fashion show. It’s going to be fun, accessible, and full of wonderful items. Aeon Dressmaking is loved in the Wellington burlesque scene for their costume tailoring and well-chosen vintage, and their alternative formalwear is gaining a following, too. Bring in your fabric that’s just sitting there and see what wonders they will create.

With this event coming up, how about some Clothing Swap Ettiquette? 

My personal clothing swap recommendations are, for swap organizers: invite people who don’t already know each other; extend invitations to acquaintances; don’t over-invite for your space; have clear zones for different sizes of clothing and for shoes/accessories; and have a plan for donating leftover clothes.

If you’re attending a swap, wash your clothes before you bring them – closet funk is NOBODY’S friend in a room full of used clothes. Dress to try on garments comfortably – a base layer of leggings/camisole can protect the modest. You can ask for second dibs on a garment in someone’s hands, but only once, and be gracious about it. If somebody brings a particularly striking or helpful garment that you get, and you know who donated it, it’s nice to thank that particular person.

For me, something that always happens at a clothing swap is that I find a ravishing garment that…may or may not fit. Here’s a great, great, great pair of posts on how womens’ garments ought to fit and on alterations. Also, how to alter the bust or overall seamline of an existing garment that’s too small.  Basically, when it’s too small, you can enlarge it with a gusset. Warning: extra fabric required.

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