Couture Blowout is a high-end consignment shop tucked into a small strip mall near the corner of Westheimer and Dunlavy. On Saturday the boutique hosted Swapnista, a fashion "swap party," for about 50 attendees, co-hosted by the Houston Fashion Bloggers. The idea behind a Swapnista party is simple: Everyone brings three new or gently used items (clothing, accessories, perfume, handbags) which are exchanged for three "new-to-you" items. The party started at 3 p.m., with light refreshments, photography and time to shop the store, which was offering 20 percent off of everything in stock for the day.
I rounded up a few pieces that were languishing in my closet -- a Banana Republic pencil skirt, a Gap smock dress and a BCBG cocktail dress -- and went to see if I could find a new-to-me treasure, while simultaneously not buying my long-coveted dream garment, a Chanel suit.
(Spoiler alert: I did not buy a Chanel suit. Yay, me!)
The check-in counter and swap rack were set up outside the store. Each piece was labeled with a name, website, and Twitter name (if applicable) of the person who brought it. The idea, explained Swapnista owner Kay Cee, is that you can Tweet the person whose garment you end up with; the Swapnista concept is as much about making connections as about finding a new piece of clothing.
While attendees streamed in and clothing was checked and sorted, I spoke with Couture Blowout owner Fatou Fall. She described her Westheimer location inventory as "very high-end," and noted that up to 75 percent of the items she receives on consignment are brand-new, with the tags still on. For fashionistas on a smaller budget, Fall recommends a trip to her second location on South Shepherd, which carries more mid-priced labels like Alice + Olivia. Although her store is small, it's obvious that Fatou has a great eye for fashion. The racks are full but uncluttered, garments are labeled on the hangers by size, and the used items are in excellent condition. I cannot wait to check out the South Shepherd location.
The Swapnista check-in closed at 4:30 p.m., and we were gathered in the boutique for a fashion blogger fashion show. Local bloggers were on hand to model some of this season's latest trends. The blogger/contestants were:
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• Val Verde Style--Wearing the neon trend • Malibu Mara--Wearing the tribal print trend • Autumn's Collection--Wearing the neon trend • A B Seize--Wearing the floral trend • Cheap, Chic, and Curvy--Wearing the color block trend • Kendra's Beauty Corner--Wearing the color block trend • Naturale Chronicles--Wearing the peplum trend
The winner was decided in a "viewer's choice" tie-breaker, with Naturale Chronicles (peplum) barely edging out Kendra's Beauty Corner (color block). All of the ladies looked sharp, and I have to admit I ended up feeling a little frumpy in my plain ol' skinny jeans and cardigan! Hey, at least the cardigan was a bright, neon-ish orange.
Once swap-time came around, I was in the second group called to pore over the racks and see what I could find. The sharp-eyed beauty bloggers were in group one, so I knew that the lovely tan handbag I had my eye on would already be gone, but I did end up with a darling, light-turquoise knitted tank courtesy of @itgirlonline.
If you missed this Swapnista event, don't worry -- you'll get another shot. Although she doesn't host many in-store events, Fatou Fall assured me that more Swapnista clothing swaps are on the horizon, perhaps as many as one every three to four months.