This past Sunday, despite the grey dreary day, I ventured north to the wilds of West Chester for the Cincy Chic "Recessionista Shop n' Swap". Held at the West Chester Conference Center, the event was billed as a fabulous day of fashion, shopping, games and prizes. Armed with four items marked for giveaway, in I went to try my hand at swapping.
First, a few words about my items. I chose to take only four things, thinking that if I took too much, check-in would take forever, and if I took too few, I'd have no swapping power with the rest of the recessionistas. My four items were chosen because 1. they were fashionable and 2. they didn't fit anymore. My fingers were crossed that two dresses, a white button-down and a cream tulip skirt would amount to moola for me.
Score! I traded my items in and received $100 in swap cash. Swap cash, for those not initiated in the lingo, are dollars that you spend strictly on items in a clothing swap. Donna Spiegel from the Snooty Fox evaluated my items, and initially offered me $80 in swap cash, but then upped it to $100 when she noticed that one of the sundresses was a Tori Burch. Yes, I swapped a Tori Burch -- see #2 above as to why.
With my cash in hand, I started browsing the items on the rack. Snooty Fox volunteers were busy tagging and hanging all the swap clothing.The items were supposedly hung by size on specially created racks, but after a few minutes I could tell that the semblance of sizing order wasn't going to last...I watched one rather large woman take an armful of clothes and move them from the size 14 end of the rack, down to the zeros. Above the clothing, shelves held a variety of accessories including shoes, hats and purses.
Selection varied throughout the course of the day, but for the most part it was so-so. As Amy Storer-Scalia pointed out, "For a free event, you're going to get all types of clothes". I did find items that I wanted, but ironically I got them from a friend who also came to the swap. Here is what I wound up with:
1. Miu Miu Dress
2. Forever 21 black/white cap sleeve shirt
3. Red satin cami with white lace inset at neck
4. Black/white spaghetti strap top
5. White House/Black Market Black Pinstripe Pants
6. Forever 21 Aqua tank with front lace panel
7. An ugly black Coldwater Creek short sleeve shirt (see below for the why)
8. A fab pair of crimson platform heels (DID NOT FIT!)
Outside of the swap, there were oodles of great clothing, jewelry and handbag vendors. My personal fave, Missy DeGroot was there from DeGroot Handbags with her purses, as were Miche Bags and Paolo. I know I saw at least three tables loaded with sparkly jewelry - necklaces, bracelets and earrings. Finally, the clothing. Snooty Fox of course represented with treasures culled from their area stores, but other local boutiques included Splurge, Miss Martha's Dress Shop, Missy and Jack and my new favorite -- M641. I had the pleasure of chatting with Ina (@M641 on Twitter) who is clearly going to become a good friend...not only is she extremely friendly and knowledgable, but her fashion advice is top-notch. At her request, I purchased a rather ugly, shapeless black Coldwater Creek short sleeve shirt. Pin a brooch her, add a swatch of fabric across the middle and voila! You have a beautiful spring shirt. I would've never thought to dress up the shirt to make it wearable and cute. Hopefully Ina will be able to offer tips to Redkatblonde readers again soon.
Rounding out the list of who's who at the Recessionista Shop n' Swap were Kelly Long, a certified financial planner and Kristen Monroe of Qfact Market Research. Kelly shared frugalista beauty tips including asking your stylist to touch up only your regrowth if you get your hair colored, "I only ask her to touch up my roots when they start to sparkle!" Kristen was there to find respondants for one of her market research surveys -- each of which pays you for your time. Sign up. Make money. Go shop!
At 4pm we were treated to a fashion show emceed by Constance from WB64, and DJ'ed by Brian from Q102. Each model strutted an outfit and handbag supplied by a participating Shop n' Swap vendor. I saw lots of cute things, but yikes! Some of the items were, well, total splurges and not recessionista at all. Me being me, I still loved them and will probably still purchase them. Clearly I'll be doing a few market research studies to pay for the cute hoodies I saw from Elizabeth's Closet!
My take? Go to shop and swap events, and go often. Take your middle of the road items for swap and prepare to find good wardrobe building basics, as well as a few attention-getting pieces. If you can't find a shop and swap locally, grab a bunch of girlfriends, buy a bottle or three of wine and trade clothes with each other. Everyone comes out ahead!