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Why Clothes-Swapping Is Good For You (and Your Friendships)

This ritual can be a beautiful way of expressing love in your daily life.

Before I plunged into the world of college, I never shared my clothes, not even with my sister. It wasn’t because we were significantly different in size or age. The thought just never entered our heads.

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Art Credit: Madeline Joy

So it took me by surprise when my new dorm-dwelling friends made regular expeditions to my room to borrow a piece of clothing. For these girls, drifting between each other’s closets on a daily basis was just as natural as getting together over a cup of coffee. Wearing your friend’s scarf to class was almost a badge of friendship.

At first, I was nonplussed at the thought of sharing my clothing. After all, there were several cute outfits I had acquired, and it didn’t seem to make sense to let others reap the benefits of my sartorial sowing.

But I have long since come to appreciate and love our clothes-swapping system. By lending clothes to my friends, I share my unique style with them. Borrowing their clothes, I learn a little more about what they consider beautiful. Swapping outfits, in a way, has helped me cultivate generosity.

I think it’s because, as women, we take special pride in our appearance. Our clothes reflect our sense of style—a little part of ourselves, so to speak. From dresses to accessories, our choice of clothes offers a glimpse into our personality. This isn’t to say that you can know all about a person merely by looking at her outerwear, but there’s no doubt that we often express our individuality through our clothes. After all, each one of us has had that moment when we see a dress and immediately think of a particular friend. It’s so her, we say.

It’s this individuality that I share with my friends when I lend them a pair of pants or a sweater. We’ve all gotten to know each other better just through our tradition of sharing clothes. And the pleasure we get out of this ritual makes sense. Women almost have an innate desire to care for and to share ourselves with others. In a way, sharing clothes kills both birds with one stone.

Although it may sound silly, clothes-swapping became a novel way to express this warmth and love on a daily basis. And, in my view, that’s worth lending my favorite skirt any day.

(Photo by Madeline Joy)