The Women’s Room Guide to Swishing*

*Swishing. It’s a dreadful word that sounds like it’s a vaguely dodgy practice indulged in by bored married couples but in fact was invented to make an evening where you swap clothes sound more exciting. You may all know this, since swishing has been around since 2007, but the word riffs off the description of swish, as in ‘to rustle, like silk’, only this is about rustling clothes (rather than cattle). It was invented by Lucy Shea of Futerra, a sustainable communication agency,  as a sustainable way of getting new clothes without spending money, you bring your unwanted clothes to a ‘swish’ and hopefully swap them for more wearable ones.

One of the downsides of not buying anything for a year is that I miss that buzz from buying new clothes. Having a new style to play with and work into my wardrobe is something I really enjoy. A new piece of clothing can add an uplifting dynamic to getting dressed in the morning, call me shallow but I do love a shopping trip. How to get that excitement if there’s no buying going on?

Well, turns out swishing is a good place to start as clothes don’t need to be brand new to give that buzz, just new to me. Also after my styling session last week, I had a few wardrobe rejects that needed to go, so I decided to invite a few friends round for the evening to have a swish. I explained that it was a bit of an experiment and not to expect too much, but it ended up being great fun and everyone went away with new items of clothing.

Although I said it was a bit of an experiment, there was still stressing among participants about what to bring, would their clothes be up to scrutiny? Everyone brought around 3- 10 items each, which I hung on running rails (Muji do good ones). Accessories were useful for being mostly ‘size-free’ and amazingly, everyone found at least one thing to love.

Cocktails and wine helped everyone relax, and the first half hour was spent browsing and chatting, before I gave the go ahead to start selecting. We were quite polite with each other (‘you have it’, ‘no, really, you have it’) and there were no tussles over star swaps. I turned the lounge into a giant changing room and brought in some mirrors and soon everyone was chopping and changing with cheerful abandon.

One of the fun aspects of swapping your clothes like this is you have nothing to lose by considering styles you wouldn’t normally wear. No money changes hands, and you’ve probably brought clothes you don’t want/wear any more, so picking something from the rails that’s out of your comfort zone, but might suit you, is part of the fun.

If there is a tussle over a particular item, the rules are that everyone who wants it has to try it on and the room votes for who wears it best. A bit risky, particularly after a cocktail or two perhaps, but if handled well, it could end up being both fun and interesting as it would enable a discussion on fit and style.

Emboldened by my wardrobe session and what I’d learned from my stylist friend Tamara, I went for a Starsky & Hutch style zip front hand knit in (very 70s inspired) yellow and chocolate brown. It works brilliantly with my chambray and indigo heavy wardrobe and is perfect as a wear-now spring jacket.

I also picked up a lovely COS navy top, with a cross over strap detail on the back which has fitted into my wardrobe brilliantly as I am a bit short on easy to wear tops that sit over waistlines.


Our evening was further improved by one attendee bringing a fabulous spread of food instead of clothes (she had just cleared out her wardrobe) which worked very well as you can work up quite an appetite swishing, and we had plenty of clothes to go round. But nibbles would be fine too, if you were thinking of doing your own event.

I will definitely hold another swapping party, it’s a fun way to shake up your wardrobe. I might invite more people next time, just so we get a bigger variety of clothes to try. I’d also make sure everyone felt relaxed about what they brought, one woman’s bad buy is another woman’s perfect pick-me-up sweater. If you have lots of people, you may need some sort of sign explaining what the rules are.

Size and fit were the biggest barriers to sartorial swapping happiness, so more people would also give a better chance for more shapes and sizes to be included. Now all I have to do is work on inventing a better name, all ideas welcome.



  • Jan says:

    Beats a Tupperware party in my opinion! Interesting point you raised about whether your friends would be similar enough in size to accommodate swapping clothes. I too would have made a grap for the Starsky and Hutch jumper. I get a similar buzz if I find a bargain in a charity shop or a clothes agency (shops that sell your clothes for you). Minus the lovely food though.

  • Tamara says:

    This sounds great and looking forward to seeing you in the knit! how about something like Trash & Treasure party ? xx

  • Sharon Whiting says:

    So glad it all went well Amanda! Reminds me that I really must start organising our next Brighton swish……….xx

  • Lea Hodgkins says:

    Wonderful and love the spread too. What about Sartorial Swapping? X

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *