Tuesday, June 24, 2008

How to Shop for Free

Recently I hosted a clothing swap in my living room. My friends and I do this about once a year. We always start off with a plan to remain organized but it quickly devolves to a room of squealing women hopping around in their underwear, while clothes fly overhead. The seven who attended were a similar size, or at least fluctuated within a similar range, but body types varied wildly which is perfect. The one exception was my friend Ida who is only two years old. She dove right in with an air of concentration, wrangled a grown-up size tank top over her head and jockeyed for mirror space. Later on, she caught my eye and pointed to the clown-sized shoes she was trying on. "These?" she asked.

Apparently these events don't always make people happy, but I am going through my spoils now and can't believe how well I did. Highlights include: a vintage black velvet blazer; a navy, subtly-sequined cocktail dress by Laundry; a long tie-front black sweater vest by Moss; tight, straight leg Levi's with a nice indigo wash; a two-tone green leather tote bag by Michael Kors that I have coveted since the day Molly bought it; and from my sister's infinite closet, the most unusual long tank dress. It's a deep plum-colored mesh, with strips of wool(?) sewn on in a fuzzy texture. Okay that sounds terrible, but it's gorgeous.  I stashed it in my off-season closet where it waits for fall.

Usually I get so giddy at these things that everything looks like a good idea. I once came home with a pair of G.I. Joe pajamas. Somehow this time I kept my cool. I feel like everything I got fits into my ongoing project of building a wardrobe that makes sense. The navy cocktail dress and velvet blazer were even on my list of items to keep an eye out for while shopping.

As the swap wound down, we lay around on my couches and floor talking and drinking. Someone asked for an update on my epic and baffling love life, and while I explained the latest with a bloody mary in my hand, I suddenly realized I was the only one still in just underwear. Like some bizarre form of therapy.