The Great Clothing Exchange

Whenever my sisters and I get together in the same city, the temptation to rummage through each others suitcases is irresistable and what follows is the trying on of the clothes that don’t belong to us. Following that, the negotiations begin and can last for a number of days as we barter back and forth for each others clothing that we find ourselves desperately coveting.

I flew home last week for an extended long weekend to celebrate my mother’s birthday but this time around, the Great Clothing Exchange began even before I boarded the plane, and before I could even pack my suitcase.

Day One of the March 2008 GCE began online with Stacy and I negotiating a cute summery H&M top with a drawstring neckline for her baggy scrub-like khakis that she had purchased at Club Monaco years before and had been acquired by me in the GCE during the summer of 2006 and had been returned to Stacy during the March 2007 GCE. The pre-GCE trading furtered continued on Day 2 when Jody had a layover in Toronto and I went through her suitcase looking for things that I could borrow and then return when I followed her to Halifax two days later. I very quickly found myself coveting a pair of seude boots lined and rimmed with fur along the tops, while Jody found herself wanting my black sundress that I’d purchased in Mexico last fall. We held off on negotiations as Stacy had previously indicated first dibs on the boots, sight unseen, and Jody flew to Halifax with the understanding that negotiations would continue when I arrived in Halifax two days later. I packed the dress just in case.

It’s very difficult when packing for this type of trip because you always want to pack your nicest clothing, especially if you’re going to be going out lots yet, you know that a GCE is inevitable so you’re hesitant to pack the things you love since you might be returning home without it. An example of this is a cheery short trench coat that I had purchased for Jody as a belated birthday present. The sleeves are three quarter length and the cut is a classic A-shape making it fun and flirty and perfect for the spring weather. When buying Jody’s (in bright green), I couldn’t resist buying myself when one in a bright sunshiny yellow. The day after Jody arrived in Halifax, she messaged me to say that Stacy loved her coat and that she’d indicated she’d probably prefer it in yellow.

I flew to Halifax WITHOUT the jacket, knowing that if I brought it with me, I would be returning to Toronto without it and I couldn’t bare to part with it.

Day 3 of negotiations included me expressing interest in a black baby doll top that I borrowed from Stacy and she test-drove my beige seude loafers and noted them as an item to negotiate.

Day 4 involved Stacy trying on a black silky-type blouse that I had JUST bought, and me retrying on a pair of jeans that Stacy owned that had previously belonged to Jody. A request was made for the winter coat I had brought with me. The ONLY winter coat I had brought with me.

On Day 5, I made the mistake of trying on a pair of Jody’s leopard print high heel shoes, trimmed with just the tiniest bit of red leather piping and wore them with Jody’s brown cordorouy jacket with the fur collar. Underneath the jacket I wore a long brown top that belonged to Stacy with a gold rope belt cinched around the hips and by the end of the evening, I was scheming on how to acquire ALL the items that I coveted. That same day, Jody tried on the black sheath top that I had worn out the night before and on Day 6, Jody opened up negotiations with a request for the black top.

My FAVORITE black top. My black top that was a gift, that used to be a dress until I turned it into a sleek club type top and was cut in a way that it slimmed me through the waist, accentuated my bust and contoured my shoulders.

I requested either the leopard shoes or brown coat only to be told neither items were on the table. Understanding that a stalemate had very quickly been established, I withdrew the black top from negotiations and began negotiating with Stacy for the brown top and gold belt which I soon acquired after offering up my loafers and black top.

The GCE then developed a new form of exchange when an agreement was made to LEND items, with the guarantee that items would be returned if the lending party so desired. Through this arrangement, I secured the jeans that formerly were Jody’s but were now Stacy’s, an irresitably cute white pheasant blouse and her denim jacket with the fur collar that I’d been wanting desperately since the day Stacy purchased it.

I also secured a bright mauve sweater vest, a white long sleeve collared shirt and a absolutely cute summer blouse that Stacy no longer wanted. Feeling slight guilty for her generousity, on Day 7, through text message, I felt compelled to ask Stacy what she wanted in return for the freebies – she took a barely used can of Sebastian Shaper Plus hair spray and a makeup kit that I use ALL THE TIME but somehow found myself parting with.

Negotiations with Jody were not so easy, and we bargained back and forth, up until the 10 minutes before I left for the airport. She still wanted the black top (which I was wearing), I still wanted her shoes or the jacket and I began to falter slightly when I asked Jody about two very cute blouses that I’d tried on when she was in Toronto earlier that week. She thought briefly before saying yes, but I expect she answered a little too quickly because I very quickly changed my mind and said no, again asking for shoes or jacket.

I left Halifax with MORE clothes than I arrived with and very clearly benefited the most from this year’s GCE but remain disappointed that negotiations with Jody had proven to be unsuccessful. My sister might be interested to know, however, that the opportunity to negotiate still exists via airmail between Toronto and England and if she parted with those shoes and perhaps one of her tops, the black top and Mexican dress (that she wants for Greece) could be HERS.

Up next: The 2008 Frenchy’s Excursion with Dawn where she shows me how to sort the bins, to wait for the ‘new’ clothes to be released on the hour, and how the clothes are so cheap they’re practically free. I should apologize in advance for my mention of the impossibly cute brown striped trousers that she offered up to me only to acknowledge later that she should have purchased them for herself. I’m truly sorry and recognize that she’s a true friend for offering them to me in the first place. And honestly, I love them so much, possibly more than I would a dead rat.

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3 Responses to The Great Clothing Exchange

  1. LOL- a quote from the best card, ever!I’m glad you love the pants from frenchy’s. But I must correct you-and let you know that the ‘new clothing drop’ is called “the dump”. And that if there is a bitchy girl angling for your territory- we call them “bin bullies”. Be prepared to wrestle them back! But there’s time to teach you, grasshopper.Back to those pants though. If I hadn’t have offered them up to you, I’m afraid I might have passed over them. So better they go to you, then some crappy girl who doesn’t understand the interdependance between friendship/sisterhood and clothing.I must admit- I’m out of my league with you McDonald sisters and your GCE, but I’m trying to learn!

  2. Jody says:

    LOL – the way you feel about that black top times it by 3… those shoes are one of my best buys ever, even if I hardly where them. The coat – well again, like I said, I have a picture of me wearing the coat and shoes, and nothing else! You defintely cleaned up in the GCE, however don’t feel too bad, I do have the jeans I tried on at your house that first day… and I will wait for you to ‘loan’ me the dress. You want the tops, I reckon you can still have them. I should have just given them to you 😉 Love ya!Oh, and lets not forget Aunt Beth coveting the china top we both own (I was smart enough to send you your own for Christmas). She drove a hard bargain offering to pay me x2 what I did!

  3. I covet that china top…

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