How To Get Free (Or Almost Free) Clothing

Like the changing of the leaves, those of us living in chillier climes change our outer gear seasonally. This means hauling out storage boxes that were carefully packed with moth-deterrents like cedar or camphor, washing, ironing and trying on clothes to see if they still fit. This ritual is often followed by a quieter ritual of weeping and self-recrimination, when waistbands appear to have magically shrunk themselves.


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If, like me, you have been lounging about all summer and making some questionable food choices (helpful tip: Ice cream doesn’t constitute supper) – some of your favourite sweaters, pants and jackets won’t fit the way they should. What to do with the clothes that don’t fit, especially if you can’t really afford an all-new wardrobe?

The good news: There are some sweet ways to score new-to-you stuff, at no or minimal cost.  If you’re bound to your desk during the day, there’s still a way to hound down that hard-to-find sweater or a way to ditch the cute-but-not-that-cute dress while you are within reach of your mobile.

Free Apps and Websites to Find Free Clothes

  1. Freecycle.  This free online website is like an electronic trading post. People post what they are getting rid of, but members of the community can also list items they are looking for. You can sign up for daily “digests” – an email that summarizes items people are giving or hoping to get. You can sign up for various neighbourhoods, such as locations near where you live or work.
  2. Free apps like TrashNothing, Kijiji and CraigslistPro.  Yeahhh…it’s a mixed bag. There’s no real guarantee about the quality or the availability, but it’s always worth a shot.
  3. Peerby, the app that lets you borrow something from a neighbour. Their motto is, “want something, but don’t want to buy it?” This app is strictly for those who will return the item to its owner after borrowing it, but it’s great for those moments you simply must have a handsaw to complete your lumberjack Halloween costume.
  4. Barter is coming back, but unlike our grandparents’, we are using technology instead of trading face-to-face. Swapsity and Swapdom are websites that have members list what they want, and what they are willing to part with in exchange for the item. Swapsity is also a great resource if you’re looking for a service that you’re willing to barter for, such a re-upholstery or handyman work.
  5. Vinted is an app that also gives you the option to sell your unwanted clothes online, but if you’re looking for clothes to swap, it might be a good option to check out.

Image courtesy of “dierregi” of


Find a Local Clothing Swap – Or Host Your Own

  1. Host a clothing swap.  Bring your friends together – the more the merrier. The wider the array of sizes, the better. Have snack foods ready, and donate anything that is left behind to a charity of your choice. Friends get clothes, purge out their closets, and donate to a cause they believe in: win-win!
  2. Check Facebook or any local newspaper for clothing swaps in your area. Perfect for those who don’t have the room/time/energy to host.

Speaking of which, if you are in the Greater Toronto Area, there will be a clothing swap held on October 29, at the Arts Market (846 College St.) on October 29, 2015 at 7:30 pm. A donation of $5 at the door will go towards Urban Wildlife Care, a group dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of our native wildlife.  Bring your fall/winter seasonal clothes, and only the stuff that’s in good shape: Nothing frayed, broken or missing buttons, please. As with all clothing swaps, kindly do not bring underwear or swimwear.

If you’re still looking for a Clothing Swap in November, Toronto’s West Coast Swing community will be holding a charity clothing swap to support CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.) Please bring your previously-loved clothing, shoes and accessories to the Dovercourt House (805 Dovercourt Rd.,) 3rd floor on Sunday afternoon, November 8th at 2:00 p.m. The cost is $10 and all proceeds go to CAMH. All attendees will be eligible for the Door Prize: a pass to the Sweet Side of Swing – Northwest 2016 event taking place in Vancouver, June 24-26, 2016.


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