Swapping is the New Shopping

by LearnVest on November 24, 2009 in Money

Clothes PegFor the past month, I’ve had to close my eyes every time I pass the window of J. Crew because I am absolutely dying for an oversized, button-down boyfriend sweater – but it’s so not in my budget! But I got one in the end – and I didn’t pay a dime for it!

How did I do it? By swapping.

Swapping is the new shopping – only better! Why shell out your hard-earned cash for something when you can just swap something of yours for the item you desire.

Not only do you get cool new stuff, but it doesn’t cost you a thing…

Jennifer LopezThe recession has impacted fashion on a number of levels, from the decline in popularity of “it” bags to the rise in thrift-store shopping. But there may be no singular shift in retail culture that elicits as much positive reaction as the death of celebrity clothing lines.

Celebrity-backed clothing lines were all the rage during the boom years, with everyone from movie stars (Sarah Jessica Parker, Jennifer Lopez) to reality TV fixtures (Heidi Montag, Lauren Conrad) and even rappers (Eve, Snoop Dogg) signing on. By 2006, sales of “celebrity-licensed products” had risen to $3.5 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal. But things just haven’t been the same since the recession began, now that many customers are considering cost and quality over labels and luxury when it comes time to shop for clothes….

price-tag-shopping-150At this point, we’ve all heard about bargain shopping in the recession—the budget buys, the sample sales, and the deals we can’t wait to see pop up. But what about the things that never make it to the sale rack? Are we just supposed to do without?

In short answer: No. At least not according to “experts” like personal shopper and stylist Jill Markiewicz, who tells Forbes that “buying a few expensive pieces that you truly want” can actually save you more money in the long run than picking up “a bunch of discounted items” at sample sales all over town.

Of course, Markiewicz’s ideas of necessary buys included Hermès bags and $115,000 Porsche Panameras, which don’t really fly for those of us living on Planet Earth.

So what types of purchases are worth splurging on and paying full price, even during a tight economy? As they say, you get what you pay for, and some areas can’t be scrimped on, no matter what kind of economy we’re living in. Here are a few…

baby-clothes-200Even a bad economy can’t stop parent peer pressure—those overpriced strollers and designer baby sneakers are a persistent part of the dynamic. But for some frugal parents these pint size luxuries don’t cost quite that much, or anything at all.

Even while retailers like Carter’s and Gap are posting solid sales in baby apparel, an increasing number of parents say they’re cutting costs on high-end purchases like strollers and cribs by shopping secondhand. An even cheaper—and more fun—option is the growing number of swap parties for people with kids.

The clothing swap concept has been written about a ton, and is fairly simple. Groups of friends come together to trade duds they no longer wear. The kids’ version is pretty much the same, with parents exchanging strollers, clothes and toys they don’t need.

Hosting a swap can be tricky if you don’t know what to expect, which is why we’ve put together a handy guide for throwing your first kids’ swap party…


As if getting in shape for summer weren’t enough pressure—now you have to figure out how do you pull together warm-weather looks that are fashionable, flattering, and affordable. If last year’s bikini is too stretched out or your swim trunks are faded beyond recognition, consider these 10 resources for finding a perfect beach wardrobe while still staying financially afloat.

Old Navy: The ultimate resource for beach items that are fresh, bright and, most of all, cheap. Their men’s swim trunks in solids and prints are only $15. Mix and match separates and one-piece swimsuits for women are all under $20; kids’ swimwear is a steal for less than $10 an item. And who can beat flip-flops for five bucks? Prefer doing laps in the pool to lounging the beach? This site has more athletic-style swimsuits…

Stylist Julie Greene offers expert advice on looking fierce in a financial crisis.

mirrorFor the last three weeks, I’ve been encouraging you to let go of your closet clutter, get more mileage out of the clothes you own, and make a little cash from your cast-offs. Now it’s time to work on developing your overall sense of style.