Naked Lady Party
how to throw a clothing swap

Imagine this: It's the afternoon. Cat Power is on the stereo, you've got the windows open, you're drinking some iced soy decaf latte, and you're, gasp, cleaning out your closet. You feel calm. You're getting rid of all those shirts that are too tight and pants that are too baggy. No worries, you think. Someone else will enjoy them more. Slowly you bag up all your old belongings. Later, at the party, you drink champagne, eat cupcakes and swap clothes with your favorite girlfiriends! You leave with bags of brilliant, new (to you) items.

This is no fantasty. It's a Naked Lady Party(NLP). The concept is simple: a number of women get together to trade their wears. Your dad's old sweater that sat in your closet for ten years collecting dust is taken by someone with plans to transform it into legwarmers. Your friend's too small Seven Jeans become your new "wear them everyday" pants. And the snakeskin DVF wrap dress is the star of the evening!

I've been holding and attending these parties for over eight years and they are always, always, always a kick . I get great stuff, enjoy the company of my buddies, and I don't spend any money on new clothes. Yeah!

My friends and I have developed a highly elaborate system for swapping clothing, which I have outlined below. However, my Porltand pal Susan Beal recently revealed to me that there is another way to do it. It's call the West Coast NLP. "What's this?," you say. "Is this like some kind of rap thing?"

Well, sort of.

Apparently, the left coast has developed their own version of the NLP where you throw all the clothes into the center of the room and have at it! No rules, no bidding, no maximum invites, no organizing; just clothes, ladies and chaos. I put the West Coast style to the test the other night, when I hosted a party for sixty. (See photos shown here). It was a blast--and no one lost an eye! The choice of style is yours. Either way, you'll have fun

Instuctions for the East Coast Style NLP
(for the West Coast style, just take hints from this and create your own rules!)

Ground Rules:

1. Keep your invites down to ten or less. Any more and it gets crazy.

2. Make sure that you choose a space that is large and airy, so that the everyone can spread out. You also want to make sure that it is private, since you will be in various states of undress.

3. Be supportive of everyone. Pay lots of special attention to creating a non-competitive environment. Compliment each other and refrain from negative comments.

4. Serve snacks. A bunch of hungry women and a piles of clothes could be a lethal combination. I'm a big fan of serving something glamorous, like the aformentioned champagne and cupcakes. It creates a fancy, lady-like vibe, but it's not exactly nutritious!.You may want to go for something a bit more substantive, like little cucumber sandwhiches or humus and crudite. And don't forget the water! Clothes swapping is thirsty business.

5. Be generous. Don't get bitchy if someone else wants the same item as you. Give it up; there's plenty to go around.

Once you've got the basics...

Step One: Sort
Dump everyone's clothing in the middle of a large room. Then sort all the clothing into categories: pants, dresses, shirts, outerwear, sweaters, shoes, and miscellaneous (games, toys, hats, purses).

Step Two: Auction
After you sort everything, have one of the ladies 'auction' off each item, holding it up for everyone to see, describing the size, fabric, brand, and other redeeming qualities. For instance: "This lovely 1960s Housewife MUMU is acid orange and red, a size 8, polyester and cotton, and it's made by Hawaiian Island." Then each member of the party raises her hand to make a “bid” (which of course is not a cash bid, but a show of interest). If there is more than one taker, you go into selection mode. Each girl who wants the item tries it on for the group — and after thoughtful comments had been made, if two or more still want the item, a vote is held. The bidders close their eyes and the team votes on which lady should get it show of hands.

Step Three: Trading
Once everyone acquires their loot, allow some time for additional trading or swapping to occur. It's important for everyone to have the opportunity to rethink their goods. If you like the tangerine head scarf that I got, you could offer me the 1970s fake Gucci bag for it. Or maybe you decided that you really don't need those purple satin pants, after all, but a hair crimper would be quite beneficial.

Step Four: Thrift it!
Inevitably, you will have leftovers from your party, i.e., the Clue board game with missing pieces or the dirty shirt in size extra large with a plumbing logo on it that no one wanted. These items should be bagged and sent over to the local thrift store. If you are throwing the party, you should ask one of the participants to take responsibility for doing this.

That's it! Four steps to your own fabulous NLP! I can't recommend this party enough. Please throw your own and let us know how it goes on the forums!

Want to invite other craftistas to your NLP? Post your party on Craft-Up!

Excerpted from get crafty: hip home ec.