Clothes Swapping Tips for the Party Season

Student and upcycling aficionado Maya Oliver shares her tips for how to create new festive outfits for the party season without buying anything new.

December always seems to be the time of year to whip out a chic sparkly dress or fancy new number in a bid to combat the constant worry about what to wear to the many events you have coming up. Although it may be tempting to snap up something new when fast fashion retailers are pumping out the latest trends, you are able to create an entirely new outfit for free. Friends will be your saviour in this conundrum. Not only can you borrow garments or entire outfits from friends, there are also millions of accessories you can borrow to jazz up any outfit you have. 

This way, you definitely won’t run the risk of turning up in the same outfit as anyone else, but also you won’t be contributing to the estimated £10 billion worth of unworn garments in UK wardrobes. These unworn clothes will most likely end up in landfill and will take up to 40 years for each item to decompose. Rewearing your items and jazzing them up is a great way to prevent this as it is estimated that extending the life of a garment by an extra nine months reduces its environmental impact by 20-30%.

There are so many great ways you can share and swap clothes with friends, here are some of my tips:

1) Organise a clothes swap party with a group of friends.  Looking to update your wardrobe and wanting to get rid of some old pieces? A clothes swap party is a great way to do this. All you have to do is arrange to get a group of friends together and take turns auctioning your clothes. If you see something you like, offer a swap. The best swapper wins.

2) Can’t find a time to get a group of friends together? Get involved with a larger clothes swap party. Check out Get Swishing or Clothes Swap Events in London.

3) Call a friend. Last minute outfit disaster? An easy way to fix up any outfit is by calling a friend and seeing what they have to offer.

So, before you head off to the high street, take a look at the ways I’ve managed to update this simple black vintage dress lent to me by a friend:


A belt is an easy way to add a pop of colour or pattern to any simple black dress whilst accentuating your waist at the same time.  

Statement jewellery 

Jewellery is great for adding a Christmas sparkle to your look, and experimenting away from your everyday staples.  The pearl necklace is borrowed from a friend, and was originally gifted to her, and the butterfly necklace is borrowed from my Mum and was gifted to her from a friend who spotted it in a charity shop.

Funky Jackets or Coats

Jackets and coats are a great way of adding something special to your Christmas party look, especially when it is so cold out. Despite this, it’s not realistic that you will have an array at hand but with help from friends you’re sure to find many options.


A nice shirt is a great way to update your outfit and incorporate more patterns and colour. They can be worn in many ways to add a bit more excitement to your look and give a more comfy and casual vibe to dresses.   This silk leopard print shirt is borrowed from Mum and was originally bought in a second hand shop in Italy, while the animal shirt is also borrowed from Mum – I originally bought it for her at a market in Italy.


A scarf is one of my favourite ways to create lots of different looks as they are so versatile and easy to incorporate into any look. They can be worn in your hair, tied onto your bag or around your waist.

Bag or Clutch

A bag or clutch is an essential when going out at Christmas time. It is also another great way to mix up a look.

For more tips on party dressing sustainably, read our guide to renting your Christmas party wardrobe and Rosanna Falconer‘s Party Looks to Sparkle without Sequins.