clothesYour closet is full of clothes that no longer fit, or fit your work circumstances, or were gifts from a well-intentioned but clueless loved one. Why not trade them for some duds that work?

This is the concept behind a new Web site, ThredUP.com, which will match your old clothes with someone who might love them, and arrange for you to receive the contents of others' closets in your size and to your taste.

According to the New York Times, the start-up, currently in private beta testing, allows users to list the clothes they are willing to part with and created a second list of brands, styles and sizes of clothes they would like to receive.


The user then buys a package of prepaid shipping envelopes from the Web site (three for $25) and sends his/her unloved clothes to the addresses supplied by the Web site. Shortly thereafter, he/she should receive some clothes fresh from another member's closet.

The concept is familiar to gamers, and has been used successfully for products that are uniform, such as books and films. Dealing with the world of fashion, however, brings a level of complexity that would boggle a supercomputer.

Think about the number of shirts, pants, dresses or jackets you see in a good consignment store in your size and color that you nonetheless would not be seen dead in. Add to this the fact that the duds you will receive have already been rejected by the sender, and the chances of receiving great threads in return aren't great.

While the site promises intolerance of cheaters and a steady polishing of its match-up algorithms, I'd approach the exchange like I would a grab bag, with low expectations. I'm all for swapping glad rags, but I'm not sanguine that this system will be able to overcome its cumbersome process and cost.

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