DC Sip and Swap

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Image via So Much to Smile About
Last Thursday I attended the DC Sip and Swap, hosted by the lovely Amy & Melissa of The Swapaholics and Swap.com. For those who didn’t attend, you purchase a ticket (between $10 – $20 depending on when and where you got it), bring a bag full of gently used clothing, shoes and accessories and then get to grab all the donated items that work for you.  Anything leftover was donated to Goodwill.


Image via The Feast

Have you ever seen footage of Filene's Running of the Brides? This was like that, but with less stripping of clothes in the center of the room and more black clothing.

I brought an XL LL Bean Boat and Tote overflowing with lots of great pieces – clothes from my now-defunct Shop My Closet as well as a few other pieces that no longer fit or no longer fit my personal style. While the Sip and Swap team organized all the donations, we attendees got to enjoy downtown Clarendon. Then we came back for the official beginning of the swap.

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Images via Fasshonaburu, DC Goodwill Fashionista

I was excited to meet many bloggers I have respected and read for a while, such as District of Chic, Megan Nielsen, Fasshonaburu, Cardigans & Couture, whippedSTYLE, and La Rue Neuve. I also got to catch up with DC blogger buddies like Heart Print and Style, So Much to Smile About, and MartaFacts. We sipped wine, chatted, caught up… and didn’t realize that there were some rabid swappers in attendance.

I love this video from Quarter Life, which shows what the swap was like when they opened the doors. Since I was wearing a blue maxi dress, it’s pretty easy to see me in the video (I am in the center left, and it takes me a while to come in because I wasn’t expecting Running of the Brides). There were rolling racks along the sides of the large room, tables separating jeans from blouses from skirts from trousers. The stage at the back of the room held jewelry, scarves, shoes, and other accessories.

By time I got into the room, it was packed with women who were throwing anything they could reach into their bags. Fabric was flying, a few were stripping down to bike shorts and sports bras to try pieces and throwing back into the crowd the pieces that didn’t work. It was crazy. I headed to the stage, figuring I would have a better chance finding good jewelry than clothing that would fit. I grabbed a mother of pearl bangle bracelet and a strand of pearls, turned around to apologize for bumping into someone, turned back and 90% of the jewelry was gone. I figure someone must have swept it all into a bag. I grabbed some bright purple beads, figuring I could take off the thread and repurpose, or give to Emerson as costume jewelry.


Image via The Feast

The crowd started thinning, I saw women with those giant blue IKEA bags overflowing, women crouched in corners hugging their scores. A woman walked by with two huge totes overflowing and a few items tucked under her arm. I guess I was looking with my mouth agape because she defended herself by saying, “What? I have three kids I need to dress.”

This was the swap in a nutshell. Many women who were there to donate, hope to get one or two good things, and mingle. And then there were those who were out for the kill, leaving no prisoners. I didn’t let it get me down, I went expecting to not find anything, so I ended up being pleasantly surprised. I met some awesome readers of Wardrobe Oxygen (so great to meet you, I love it when readers introduce themselves!), some awesome bloggers, and the fabulous women of The Swapaholics and Goodwill. And really, I didn’t go for the items, I went for the experience. And the experience taught me that I would definitely attend next time… but next time I’ll be sure to put down the wine glass and wear flat shoes!


What I got:

  • A gold beaded frame clutch – when I got home I realized its actually a wallet, but I can fit my cell in it and it will still snap shut and not look ridiculous
  • Navy twill pants from Ann Taylor in like-new condition, wide waistband, flat front, straight legs, very classic
  • Dark denim sailor-inspired jeans from LOFT that will fit like a dream in five pounds
  • A strand of 30” small ivory pearls that look really nice (quality costume)
  • A slim gold bangle with mother of pearl panels
  • The purple necklace (which Emerson sported this weekend)
  • A pair of perfectly faded and distressed Levis 515s that do not fit and probably will never fit so I will be passing on to someone else
  • A black LOFT jersey dress that must have been shrunken in the dryer because it hardly covers my rear (will be re-donated)
  • A black jersey MICHAEL Michael Kors top that looked cute but wasn’t my style – I gave it to my mom who totally rocks it

Have you ever been to a swap?  What did you think?


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  1. I was at the swap as well. Sorry I missed saying hello! Would totally love to see a pic of you in the navy twill pants. Sounds like such a classic piece! Hope you get great wear out of them! 
    My strategy for the swap was to get a couple of items that weren’t typically my style. I wanted to see if I could push myself a little to try new looks. Totally worked – I found a dress that definitely pushed me that I would have never purchased outright. I’m starting to understand that swaps are a great way to play around without investing lots of money!

  2. It was so great meeting you too (you didn’t accost me, I was happy you introduced yourself!)!  I found the hoarding the most frustrating, had a situation where I almost fought with a woman over a large leather biker jacket and she was probably 90 pounds dripping wet and already holding a few leather jackets but decided it wasn’t worth it. 🙂

  3. It surely wasn’t an opportunity to get a great score and take your time, but neither is the Running of the Brides.  My friend did the Running of the Brides and got a perfectly lovely dress for almost nothing, but she went in not expecting to find THE dress, a specific designer, etc.  She just wanted a good deal.  And at both this swap and that dress event… you get exactly that 🙂

  4. It’s true, I wondered with some pieces I brought if they were worthy of the swap. Funny, the two pieces of mine that I saw on tables for the the longest period of time were two pieces I brought that I thought that were good scores! 🙂

  5. I didn’t expect to get anything, so I was happy with the outcome.  I guess if I expected to score some fabulous designer pieces I would have been disappointed.  And I was at the back of the crowd, wearing high heels (one broke en route to the swap), a maxi dress, a big purse and bigger swap tote… I wasn’t dressed for the activity 🙂

  6. There was some great swap camaraderie there, I hope I didn’t paint too bad of a picture.  I would surely attend again!  I was so amazed at how in such a short period of time everything was organized so beautifully!

    Great to meet you as well! 🙂

  7. I’m glad you liked the video! It was great to meet you, although briefly. There was SO much to sort through behind that curtain beforehand! We definitely had all kinds at the swap, and I am not much of a pushy grabby person myself. But I did see some good swap camaraderie in action, too!

  8. You know, I always wanted to go to a clothing swap but I’m not so sure now.  I went to an “upscale” thrift store that you could fill an entire bag and only pay 20 dollars for – fantastic, right?  But there were so many people grabbing and snatching from each other that I left in a pretty sour mood, even with my sensible amount of clothing.  Seems you had about the same experience with the swap!  Glad that you had fun meeting up with others though!

  9. It wasn’t laid back, but it wasn’t a waste.  I think I was just unprepared.  Next time I will be organized with my girlfriends, and we will grab for each other and then trade.  That might make it more fun.  One thing that was funny to me was how all the women I talked to were worried that no one would want their donated items.  That didn’t seem to be much of a problem!  The tables and racks were picked CLEAN.

  10. Wow – after reading about this for weeks on  a few of the  blogs that I follow, I was feeling sad that I didn’t live close enough to attend and was thinking about looking to see if there was something similar here. However, after reading your post, I don’t see it happening. I refuse to shop in stores from Black Friday on just because of behavior like that. I’m sure that I would have been too appalled by people snatching any and everything to enjoy myself at all. 

    It sounds like you made the best of it though and had a good time. I guess that I’d rather just donate my stuff to Goodwill and thrift on my own time than deal with a scene like that. 

  11. i have done the Greater Washington Clothing Swap a few times, and it has never been like that. i was kinda bummed that i couldnt make it, but after hearing this, i think im actually kinda glad i wasnt there — too hardcore for me!

  12. I have never been to a swap, I am sure Dallas has them, but I am out of the DFW social loop. This seems so exciting! I would probably be like you though, so busy people watching that I would miss all the “goodies”.

  13. Allie, it was great meeting you (the short woman who accosted you at the very beginning).  My girlfriend and I agreed that we were unprepared as well.  The nudity, the hoarding of items most obviously not for the wearer, the general chaos.  But I too got some good things.  I just wish that others had been possessed of the same laid back attitude…it would have been more fun.

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