Swapping dresses and style tips with Raindrops and Ribbons Vintage

As you may have noticed, I have become quite the fashion recyclist – swapping dresses and seeking to make another woman’s trash my ‘new to me’ treasure.

After a few visits to Milton Keynes Swap Shop, when my friend Fiz told me about Swap a Dress by Raindrops and Ribbons Vintage, I knew we had to check it out.

Raindrops and Ribbons Vintage is a Milton Keynes based vintage shop. Owner Michelle also organises regular styling and swap events and workshops in and around Milton Keynes. I was gutted that it had taken us so long to discover her Swap a Dress events.

Hence, off we went to The Crown in Stony Stratford on a chilly Sunday evening. Initially, I was skeptic about the choice of day – after all, who would be out on a Sunday evening swapping dresses when you could be soothing your Smonday sorrows with chocolate and Sunday evening telly?

How wrong was I? Some thirty women like us had turned up, dragging bags and bags of clothing along, keen to get their hands on second-hand goodies.

I was impressed by Michelle’s attention to detail. As soon as you drop your items which are scrutinised within an inch of their fabric to make sure quality is not compromised for quantity, you are given your token. Then you are asked to hang your garments on the clothes rails where all dresses are categorised by size which makes rummaging much easier.

Then it’s time to go enjoy a drink or two before the treasure hunt begins. Sunday evening’s soiree kicked off with a talk by Naomi Nay Benjamin who shared tips with an enthusiastic audience on how to dress for your shape.

After Naomi’s talk, it was time to start rummaging. Part of the room was sectioned off with a screen to allow the ladies to try on the dresses they’d picked which added to the fun feel of the evening. There was much camaraderie and kindness as dresses were swapped, compliments shared and zips done up as we chatted and swapped away.

Desperate to get a good deal, we were still busy browsing by 9 pm. I was happy that I’d brought along six dresses I was never going to wear which meant I could rehome six new looks which I would definitely re-rock.

While it’s good to have the clothes categorised in sizes, if you’re anything like me and can fit different sizes from different brands, it means you have to strategically rummage through two to three different rails, which means when you’re done browsing through your best fit size, another item that is a size smaller or bigger that could fit you might have already been snapped up . I lucked out towards the end of the evening when I laid eyes on a slinky white size 8 number which luckily hadn’t been taken.

Like any event that relies on donations from its attendees, the downside is often the risk of not getting enough items in different sizes. With Swap a Dress, there was a distinct lack of size 16 and up which is to be expected when the average British woman is size 12-14.

While I found there was quite a good range across sizes 8-10-12 which I was aiming for, as the name Swap a Dress suggests, literally everything is dresses. If like me, you do love a dress, then this is your conscious fashion heaven. However, I’d still love it if Raindrops and Ribbons Vintage did open it up to other items.

In the end, with six new to me items exchanged for my old clothes, and one extra courtesy of Fiz’s extra item allowance, I went home with seven dresses. That’s at least two Christmas looks, a couple of more work-friendly dresses and a couple of summer party looks sorted. More importantly, it is fashion with conscious and shopping on a budget. A win-win.

Can’t wait to share some of my finds with you in the coming weeks. In the meantime, why not give Raindrops and Ribbons a like on Facebook so you can get updates on their upcoming events? See you at the next one!

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