Thursday, May 6, 2010

naked lady party

every spring, i purge my closet. spring 2010 is no different. there is currently a gigantic pile of clothes languishing in my office, longing to find new homes and new uses. so what's a gal to do? throw a naked lady party, of course! a week ago i announced it on facebook:

natalie, understandably confused by the title "naked lady party," asks: "what? a party with naked ladies... what do the prudes do, hide in the closets?" no no! it is a nude optional party! it is just a fun title for what most laypersons refer to as a "clothing exchange" or "clothing swap." the name "naked lady party" simply comes from the fact that during these clothing swaps, at any given moment, there is probably a lady or two who is in various states of undress while trying on new clothing. also, generally speaking it is a ladies-only event but that is debateable (especially in queer communities).

a naked lady party is a great occassion to invite all your friends together to get rid of clothing you no longer wear. it is free, and all the clothes go to a good home.

i follow these rules:
  • if i haven't worn it in over a year, it goes.
  • if it doesn't fit anymore, it goes.
  • if i have planned on altering or mending it and it just haven't done it, it goes.
  • if i like it and it fits but the colour is terrible on me, it goes.
  • if it has never fit me in the first place and i just got it because it was cute and only a dollar, it goes.
of course, there are exceptions to the rule. i call them "the special vintage rules." these rules go for garments that are extra special and are more historical artifacts than they are simple pieces of clothing. for example, my prom dress, a 1910 tea dress, has only been worn five times in the seven years i've owned it. it is torn in the bust (in the fabric, not the seams, sadly). it no longer fits me. but it's a hundred year old tea dress. so it stays.

my sister justyne and i before ~prom~ in 2003

in the past few years, i moved quite often. every time i moved, i had to pack, so i also had to get rid of a lot of stuff. this usually meant calling my friends over to let them have their pick of the clothes i didn't want anymore the night before i left town. this made me quite popular in a lot of funny ways. it was a great way to make friends! everyone felt like i was giving them presents when really they were doing me a favour; taking away something i didn't need anymore, and giving it a new life and enjoyment. how lovely.

now, of course, this process is not without its regrets. there are certain dresses i still vividly remember (and sort of miss), and wish i had kept... or perhaps sold on etsy instead of giving them away for free. but this balances out when you organize a clothing exchange instead of being the only person to dole out the goods. you get good clothes from your friends, they get good clothes from you, and everyone walks away happy!

so before you throw your very own naked lady party, it is good to set your own ground rules.

  • GUESTS: invite lots of people. in my experience, especially in the era of facebook invites, when twenty people tell you they are coming, maybe ten show up. tomorrow i'm expecting about eight people which is a good number. any more than a dozen can get a bit hectic.
  • CLOTHING: put all of the clothing in a big pile in the middle of a big room. tell your guests where they can try stuff on if they aren't comfortable changing in front of friends.
  • MIRROR: have a mirror handy! everyone wants to know how things look on them.
  • if you host the party at your house, be sure to separate ANY clothing you might have second thoughts about giving away from the gigantic giveaway pile. it sucks having to tell a friend no, they can't have that when you see their eyes light up as they try on one of your favourite dresses that accidentally found its way into the pile.
  • BE NICE: avoid body snark. for example, when someone tries on an old skirt of yours, don't say things like "oh yeah, of course that would look good on YOU, it totally doesn't fit my fat ass anymore." or even the opposite, like saying "here, try this on, it would fit you since you don't have boobs." avoid criticizing your own or your friend's bodies. just be conscious of your tone.
  • DON'T FIGHT: if two (or even three) people want the same garment, don't argue. be civil. who needs it? who just wants it because they want it? be adults about the whole situation. it's not complicated.

so those are some basic guidelines!

when i was in montreal two weeks ago for the roller derby tournament, my friend anne-marie and i made our way to the wonderful st. emilie skillshare to check out their clothing swap.

here are some (bad) pictures i took while we were picking through the piles.
this awesome sequined garment hopefully found a good home.

my friend anne-marie got away with a cute little purse and a sweater, shown here.

i left with this AMAZING dress that made me feel like a princess. the people are the skillshare were also so wonderful and insisted i take it, even though i felt bad since i didn't bring anything to exchange! i got compliments on it all day.

happy naked lady parties! wish me luck tomorrow!


Anonymous said...

Oh! I wish I could come. I just moved and I have a huge hamper full of clothes that just won't fit in my closet anymore.

I have no idea if my friends would be into doing this...

Also, that yellow dress from the swap is absolutely incredible!

Anonymous said...

Your prom dress is so gorgeous.

Alyssa said...

such a great idea! where i went to college there were 'free boxes' of clothing/ whatever that folks didn't want anymore, and at the end of the year everything was put out on the big central lawn for a free box frenzy, so it was like a year-round naked lady party... ah, the joys of a women's college. also, i LOVE your blog and find your portraits and thoughts on feminism and fashion so wonderful, so thank you for putting bees in my bonnet.
p.s. post a picture of your tea dress! 100 years old is ancient for a garment, i can't even imagine how cool it must be to have :)

Anastasia said...

I love them! My husband was understandably confused the first time I was invited.

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