Swishing in Somerset
Swishing is organised clothes swapping and it is, quite frankly, brilliant. You toddle along with your cast offs and swap them for other people's adhering to the five golden Rules of the Rail:
1) Everyone must bring at least one item of quality clothing.
2) You will have half an hour to browse before the swish opens.
3) No item may be claimed before the swish opens.
4) As soon as the swish is declared open, everyone may take what they want.
5) Remember no scratching, spitting or fighting.
I recently attended my first Swish at Rook Lane Chapel in Frome. Armed with three items hastily culled from my wardrobe I nervously approached The Points Table. Would my offerings be refused? Would they all be hung on the ‘One Point' Rail? Would I be able to swish for anything? For points mean prizes; the more you have the more you swish!
I need not have feared, my two Boden one Monsoon netted me nine points and I felt the fire in my belly. I doused it with a couple of glasses of white wine with friends and some mutual elbow sharpening before we entered the fray.
Browsing was civilised and polite and ‘Oh no, after you!' with smiles and nods. Women disappeared behind changing screens which hid nothing to try on armfuls of clothing, eyes gleaming. Others circled waiting for them to return the clothes to the rails or grabbing them from their arms as they emerged.
Once the half hour was up all clothing was returned from whence it came and women toe tapped and fidgeted while the raffle was drawn. There were fabulous prizes donated by local businesses with the top prize being a £150 Duo shoes voucher but the ladies were twitching to get on with it and barely even growled when they were not a winner!
Once the release had been sounded there were no holds barred and all niceties were abandoned in the rush. Elbows flew, coat hangers made useful weapons, there may have been snarling. It was such fun!
My top tips for successful swishing would be
- Stand very close to the one thing you REALLY want so you can grab it and accept that you may have to let others go
- Try to put clothes back on the rail somewhere you can easily find them for grabbing. Others will be doing the same so don't be surprised if your little stash has already been swished
- Have fun! It's a hoot!
This Swish was raising money for two charities (Winston's Wish and Dorothy House) and was brilliantly organised by Truly Sopel and friends. I can honestly say I have never had such fantastic time raising money before!
I emerged into the night with my first choice grab (a gorgeous pair of Franco Sarto shoes since you ask) and a bulging bag of goodies, with a smile on my face and an elbow shaped bruise on my hip.
Image credit - Christine Mosler