Storing additional vertex information

I wanted to try setting up a system of interchangable meshes (this is for a game) The idea would be that you start off with a base mesh, then you replace chunks of the mesh with different geometry (ie. start with a base character, then change pieces of clothing, much like many mmorpgs allow you to do.)

The problem is that I would need some way of storing what geometry replaces what. I figured the easiest way to do that would be to assign vertex groups. But how would be the best way to store this? Vertex colours maybe, or is there some other structure I could exploit? Or would I need to add my own? (I don’t mind messing with the code a bit, but I’d rather keep that as a last resort)

Bump. I’d like to find how to do this as well.