Why Do Your Friends’ Clothes Always Seem More Interesting Than Your Own?

Photo: Kim Selfridge

This week the Cut explores the messy, loving, spiteful, supportive, competitive, joyful, and funny sides of friendship.

Most women have probably borrowed a piece of clothing from a friend at one point or another, be it pajamas at a sleepover, a dress for a party, or a blazer for a job interview. It’s an intimate transaction marked by the thrill of inhabiting someone else’s place and style, even briefly. Whether it takes the form of spontaneous borrowing or a premeditated exchange, sharing clothes feels like a mutual endorsement — a brief, tangible signifier of closeness, even envy. In the company of friends — and with money out of the equation — choosing an outfit feels more like an experiment than a commitment. Stakes are lower: It’s a chance to wear a look you were never sure you could pull off, or try on the identity of a woman you’ll never be.

The Cut invited friends and friends of friends to bring their no-longer-needed garments and accessories to trade, and spent the afternoon hanging out, trying on new outfits, and taking pictures. Some women gravitated to colors and silhouettes they never thought they’d wear (like a bright-yellow utility dress, or geometric-print wedges), while others sought replicas of the same basics that already line their closets. “It’s cool to see other women in an outfit they might not have bought for themselves, but they can because it’s free, and we’re in a space of good, supportive vibes,” said Briana Fails, who left the swap with a pair of Chloé green platform sandals.

“I like how tense clothing swaps are,” said Dana Balch, who brought a polka-dotted dress and left with an embroidered blouse. “It’s odd having people know that you’re wearing something that they no longer like, but it’s exciting to see how an article of  clothing changes on a different person who has their own unique style, personality, and perspective. To me, that’s what style is all about.”

Photographer Kimi Selfridge took Polaroids of each woman wearing her newly acquired, swapped clothes — and asked her about why she chose certain garments and parted with others. Click through the slideshow to see the results.

What Happens When Friends Swap Clothes