• Don't Just Shop Your Size
You're not paying enough money for things to fit you perfectly. Assume you'll be visiting a tailor and shop in a larger size range than you're used to. If it doesn't fit or if you change your mind on an item, swap it with a friend or consign the purchase.
Trade: Swapping Events and Online
In the past few years, swapping clothing has become almost as common as consignment, with local and national swap companies organizing swaps among strangers with a similar passion for bargains. Melissa Massello, co-founder of Theswapaholics.com, organizes swaps in cities across the country. The model: Take your gently used clothes to a swap event a few hours before it begins, buy a bag for an entry fee, usually $20, and fill it with other people's treasures when the swap begins. Swap rules vary, but with many, you can bring home as much as you want. Of course, some swaps are better than others. "When we first started with Swapaholics, it was a subculture, but then it became mainstream. There are so many swapping sites online now. I would say the number of swap organizers has grown by 300 percent," in the past few years, Massello said.
• What to trade
Swapping is useful for consumer goods like jeans that sell high but quickly lose their value once they've been worn too many times. Massello recommends swapping these items rather than selling them for consignment. "Say you have a pair of Joe's jeans that don't fit. You might make $15 or $20 in consignment, which is just a fraction of the retail price. But if you take them to a swap and trade them for another equivalent designer, you're trading equivalent value."