This post is by Anna Menke, one of Boston Green Blog's newest contributors! Learn more about Anna and the rest of the team here.
I’ve never particularly thought of myself as stylish. When I learned about a new closet consultation and styling startup called SwapIt, I thought it might be my minimal-effort golden ticket to the world of the well-dressed. SwapIt is a unique styling service that comes to you and helps you streamline your wardrobe, guiding you through the process of parting with items you never wear and advising you to swap them for strategically chosen “new to you” items that will unlock numerous new outfit combinations.
Before I even met the folks behind SwapIt, I was enamored by the idea that they not only would help advise me to part with some fraction of the one million t-shirts in my dresser, but that they’d also help me build new outfits with the clothes I already own. I signed up for a closet consultation session with enthusiasm. However, I can’t say I completely knew what to expect from my SwapIt closet consultation session. In case any of you may also want to consider SwapIt and are wondering what it will be like, I’ve recorded in real time how it went for me.
5:30 p.m. I am home and have changed into my usual post-work uniform of athletic shorts and a large t-shirt. I have do not have air conditioning and it is one of those relentlessly hot days in Boston’s late summer when the heat has seemingly seeped into the plaster of my walls and the wood panels beneath my feet. I am not thinking much about style. (Thank goodness, we're finally seeing some fall weather!)
6:00 p.m. I start to wonder what it will be like to have SwapIt come to my small apartment. I realize I should probably change into something slightly more ~trendy~ so that the SwapIt folks don’t think I’m entirely hopeless upon arrival. Ripped jeans and a tank top it is. (After meeting them I can affirm, they were up for the challenge of coaching big-t-shirt-wearing me into as close as I will ever come to a bonafide fashionista.)
6:30 p.m. Stefanie and Sara arrive at my door. They’ve just hauled a trunk of clothes, camera equipment to document all my soon-to-be-create looks, and a clothing rack up Beacon Hill and the three narrow flights of stairs leading to my apartment. They are wearing their entrepreneurial spirit like a badge.
6:45 p.m. Stefanie and I sit down at my living room table to talk about my goals for the session. She makes it clear to me that it is important to her that I’m honest about how I’m feeling throughout the session. I’m inspired by the conviction with which she explains to me her passion for helping people feel more confident and authentic in their clothing.
6:50 p.m .I tell her, unabashedly, that I’d like to develop a more adult wardrobe. It has only taken me a short year to realize that I don’t know what kind of shoes adult women wear to work. I guess there are high-heels but I’m 5’10 and already tower over every other human in my office, so I’d rather not. Flats, well, those make no sense to me because the tops of my feet get cold and they give me blisters on my heels. WHAT SHOES DO LADIES WEAR TO WORK? HELP! I articulate this as a goal in fewer words. Stefanie smiles and does not judge me. I also tell her I’d like to figure out how to dress up for fancy occasions. Again, Stefanie welcomes the opportunity to help me.
6:55 p.m. Stefanie helps me pick words that describe how I would like my clothes to make me feel, to guide our decisions throughout the session. I choose: competent, attractive, relaxed and optimistic. (Sorry friends, the thesaurus function of my brain must have been turned off otherwise I would have thrown in pulchritudinous, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, or something of the like.)
7:00 p.m. We’re in my room, beginning to dig into the two piles Stefanie and Sara had instructed me to lay out ahead of time. One for clothes I knew I liked but needed new ways to wear, the other for clothes I was unsure about. We start with the uncertainty pile, I realize I can part with a dress that is far too short for my lanky self and always has been, as well as some shirts that I bought as a freshman in college that no longer apply to my trying-to-be-adult lifestyle. (I know how to cook eggs now, everyone, the adult-lifestyle-thing is really taking off.)
7:15 p.m. Sara has put together my first outfit. A trendy fake-denim skirt that I previously only thought I had use for at theme parties in college, a navy blue tank top and an oversized sweater. Sara has turned the skirt into a causal Sunday brunch outfit or a fun summer concert outfit. We assess if the outfit makes me feel competent, attractive, relaxed or optimistic here. I decide it makes me feel relaxed, attractive and optimistic.
8:00 p.m. We’ve gone through a number of other outfit combinations some composed of all my own clothing, some with a mix of my own clothing and new-to-me pieces collected and redistributed to me by SwapIt. I’ve found new outfits to wear to work, rejected a few outfits that felt a little too far outside of my comfort zone and I’ve weeded out a few more clothing pieces that I’ll be able to swap for new-to-me pieces from SwapIt at the end of the session. We stop to do a midpoint check-in. We decide I need a few more outfits that make me feel “Competent” and a few “power outfits” that make me feel all of my four words at once! Who knew that was possible?
9:00 p.m. My eyes are bleary, I don’t think I’ve ever tried on so many outfits in one day. Stefanie and Sara’s enthusiasm and creative new outfit proposals remind that it is worth it. We make final decisions about which of my old items I’m ready to part with and swap for the new-to-me items Stefanie and Sara brought for me to try. I discard some old clothing in exchange for a few new sweaters and a skirt.
9:30 p.m. We wrap up the session with some takeaways and Stefanie and Sara help me make a plan for the next week so that I start to make my new style a habit. It’s a dually helpful exercise since I’ll be traveling for work to Washington D.C. the next week and need to figure out what to pack. SwapIt comes in clutch, yet again!
All in all, the session was quite personalized, encouraging and helped me hone my own sense of style. I came away from the session with new clothes, an invigorated desire to own my unique style and a comprehensive “Lookbook” cataloguing all my new outfit combinations Stefanie and Sara came up with for me during the session.
However, what I love even more than my new wardrobe and amped up style, is the fact that SwapIt gave me the opportunity to participate in a circular-economy. Rather than sending my old clothes to clog up landfills, I sent them to fill someone else’s welcoming closet and instead of fueling the demand for the energy and resource-intensive new-clothing-manufacturing industry, I was able to make use of pre-existing clothing from other far off closets. SwapIt is an exciting new concept that is out to shift the way we all think about shopping. If you are looking to revitalize your wardrobe without breaking the bank or deepening your ecological footprint, I highly recommend checking them out! You’re sure to have a swapping good time, as Stefanie and Sara would say.