Interview: Clothing For Correspondence

Clothing for Correspondence - Google Chrome 26072013 94045 AM

Clothing for Correspondence is the brainchild of Jane and Penny, two ladies with a penchant for second-hand clothes and who also have a knack for letter-writing. The two come together in their project that offers well written advice in exchange for an item of pre-loved garb. We found out more:

How did Clothing for Correspondence get started?
One day, way back in 2009, we were chatting about how much we love hand-me-downs and how great it would be if people just gave us their old clothes and we never had to go clothes shopping ever again. We joked about trading our only commodity, our writing skills, and suddenly we had a plan. We got a mate to help us build the website but we never really thought we’d get any requests. It was kind of a joke. We were very surprised when it took off.

You receive some strange requests for letters. Have you received any that you just couldn’t respond to?
We’ve turned down very few requests over the years. Once a girl asked us to write to a guy she’d broken up with to try and mend things with him but everything that she said about the relationship made us think they actually shouldn’t be together. We considered refusing to write the letter but instead we wrote the letter to him and then an additional letter to her giving some (unsolicited) relationship advice. We never heard back from her and she never sent any clothes so we assume she didn’t like what we said! Lesson learnt.

What has been your favourite letter that you have received?
Our faves are about people’s personal predicaments. We had a request for a confessional ‘I’ve loved you since I met you’ letter from a guy who’d just got married to someone else. He said his wife was fine with him confessing his love to another woman – he said they were a polyamorous couple (we had to look that up). We recently had a request from a girl who’d agreed to go on a date with a smoker then had a change of heart and wanted to back-peddle but do so gently. These ones are fun.

Have people been generous with their gifts of clothing?
The best thing we’ve ever received was a beautiful gold cocktail dress from a guy in Texas but we’ve had lots of lovely parcels over the years. We’ve had the occasional item where we’ve gone ‘Seriously? You spent postage on sending us a dirty white t-shirt?’ but mostly people are generous.

Do you get any background on the letter writer? Have you ever received any follow up letters?
Some people send a lot of information about themselves and others don’t. One guy requested a letter to his best friend’s wife to encourage her to improve her conversational skills because she consistently bored him to tears with talk of golf and children and children playing golf. He sent us regular updates on how their friendship progressed. But we’re not convinced that the letter did anything other than offend her. It was good to hear from him for a little while afterwards because our imaginations ran a bit wild and we were scared that maybe she would take such great offence that she would kill him. But it was all fine.

All of the letters are published online, reading people’s predicaments that have been sent to the ladies at Clothing for Correspondence makes for quite an entertaining time-killer. Or, if you need some linguistic assistance in writing to a loved one, boring friend, or just feel a little bit old to seek advice from Dolly Doctor, head over to the website and get typing. 

Interview by Carol Bowditch