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My Swish – Lansdowne Place Hotel

14 November 2010 2 Comments

On Sunday afternoon I brought home a Jaeger skirt suit, Stuart Weitzman handbag, Matthew Williamson top, Jacob evening gown, Warehouse dress, a pair of long white gloves and a vintage coat pin. I’d been out for two hours and I’d spent £4.50. No, I hadn’t been shop-lifting, save your outrage, I’d been swishing.

My Swish treat rail Lansdowne Place

Having been kindly invited by Leila McKeller of My Swish to come along to the swishing afternoon at the plush Lansdowne Place Hotel (normal entry was £5), I cleared out my wardrobe and handed over my old clothes in return for a token worth 190 points. These had been calculated on the quality of my donations, and I could then choose items from the three sections Leila and her team were busy setting up: ‘Cheap’, worth 10 points, ‘treat’, 20 points, and ‘designer’, 50 points.

My Swish Sharon Lewis Lansdowne Place Hotel

While waiting for the browsing and mad snatching to begin (it’s a dog eat dog world when it comes to women and free clothes) I chatted to a few familiar faces from previous swishing events. A lovely lady called Helen told me about her fashion regrets – she once sold a pair of Manolo Blahniks for half the price she had paid for them in a New York thrift store when in-between jobs, and this was before Sex and the City – ouch.

Sharon Lewis, aka Lady Ukulele, sung sweetly in the corner of the bar whilst guests enjoyed afternoon tea, specially made cocktails (that’s where my £4.50 went), mini manicures and a browse of the vintage and jewellery stalls, before burlesque performer Theresa la Tease can-canned her way around the room, opening the swap with an appropriate swish of her tail feathers.

My Swish Theresa la Tease Lansdowne Place Hotel

With eight rails and four tables of clothes, shoes and accessories to explore, excitement mounted as swappers went round and round the room, keeping tabs on their favourite pieces and making sure they hadn’t missed any gems. And there were some real gems to be had, with a packed designer rail and top quality pieces both new and old. After half and hour of browsing time, it was on. Snatch, okay swish is a nicer word, for your life!

My Swish designer rail Lansdowne Place Hotel

Of course you’re not always going to walk away with everything you wanted – to pull that off you’d have to lock the other women out of the room, and then they’d probably just break the door down – so I had to say a fond farewell to the floral chiffon tie-neck dress that, to be fair, probably looked better on the girl who tried it on, the 1960s shifts I would never own and the gorgeous soft brown leather jacket that vintage-lovers were always going to make a bee-line for.

My Swish Jaeger jacket and Stuart Weitzman bag

But I did manage to grab an armful of other goodies – as much as I could carry – and haul them into one of the dressing rooms (in this case the hotel boardroom) for a quick review. Beige oversized leather jacket – a bit too Eighties and smelt of smoke, a major turn-off for an ex-smoker, long vintage dress – swampy  – and Sonia Rykiel cardigan – sadly too small. But the Jaeger jacket fit in the way only an expensive suit piece can, the Warehouse dress would work day or night and the Jacob gown was too lovely not to have, even if I end up selling it onto someone for a special occasion.

My Swish Matthew Williamson top & Warehouse dress

Stuart Weitzman black box bag – definitely – , white gloves and coat pin – a Mad-Men-must . And I was just re-hanging the items in my ‘no’ pile when I spotted the Matthew Williamson floral velour slouch top that I’d lost earlier. It treads a very fine line between ironic and hideous, but I’m going to give it a shot. It is all free after all. Oh, and another last-minute find was a very wearable cute polka dot pencil skirt from Primark.

My Swish Primark skirt, white gloves, vintage coat pin

Without adding it all up I’d managed to collect items worth exactly 190 points, as if it was all meant to be…

What a fabulous way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and a peak in the canvas goodie bag we were all given on the way in revealed even more treats – a chocolate bar, toiletries and 20 points to spend at the next swish – 12 December at Pelham House, Lewes. Free Christmas party frocks – yes please!

Words: Jo-ann Fortune

Read Leila McKeller’s top tips for a successful swish.

Start the conversation...


  • Leila McKellar said:

    So glad you enjoyed the swish! We were exhausted but had a whale of a time! Hope you have fun wearing your new outfits xxx

  • Summer said:

    Oooh that mathew williamson top was mine and the primark skirt. So glad someone else can enjoy them. The next swish is in Lewes on 12 dec, i’ll def be there. xx

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