I’ve never been known for my stellar fashion sense (see photo, circa 1985) but my wardrobe has seemed particularly stagnant lately so I was excited when my friends Maggie and Siri invited me to the Second Annual Ladies Clothing Swap and Tea Party. I don’t know how it compared to last year but this year’s event was AWESOME. About thirty or so women showed up with bags of clothing that was quickly sorted by type – pants in one pile, dresses in another, t-shirts across the way… The hostesses had made cute little handwritten signs for each pile and carefully propped up mirrors in strategic places around the room.
And then we all dove in. Well, actually, it was one of those amazing instances of smooth flow without any direction or authority. At any given time, there were some women trying on outfits while others gathered in the kitchen to drink tea and others found a cozy corner to sit and chat. I had a wonderful time expanding my wardrobe but it was really the sense of connection with all these other women that made it an exceptional event.
I call it “eco-socializing” – an excuse to get together and strengthen the feeling of community while also achieving an ecological goal; in this case, efficiently recycling clothing by trading it with others. Granted, a clothing swap may not be as obviously constructive as a barn raising or as altruistically beneficial as a volunteer river cleanup but I still think it’s an integral part of building a green society. These are the kinds of events we need to be fostering in our towns and neighborhoods, along with canning parties, sewing circles, and leftover exchanges. They don’t have to be about saving the planet; just about finding a way to spend some time with friends and neighbors while sharing resources in order to reduce waste and reinforcing shared beliefs about green living.
I suppose saving poor souls like myself from fashion tragedies is a worthy goal too.