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24-07-2009
  1
Rebaptising my badness
 
Nemova's Avatar
 
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The Uniform Project: 1 Dress, 365 Days
I just found out about this lady called Sheena Matheike, who decided to embark on an interesting and challenging journey: she's going to wear the same little black dress for one whole year while raising funds for a charity in India.


Quote:
The Uniform Project: one woman, one dress, one year

We're all guilty of buying too many clothes. Now one woman has pledged to wear the same dress for a year - with a different twist every day. Sanjida O'Connell reports
Sheena Matheiken in three variants on her LBD. Photograph: The Uniform Project

There's no such thing as a free frock. The fashion industry produces 3.1m tonnes of CO2 and 70m tonnes of waste water a year, not to mention the amount of herbicides, pesticides and toxic chemicals released into the environment. To dress ethically, we need to buy fewer clothes - even if the ones we do choose are Fairtrade and made from organic cotton. But unfortunately for us, humans are intrinsically hardwired to crave novelty. Who hasn't got a buzz out of buying a brand new outfit?

I asked Tony Juniper, the ex-director of Friends of the Earth and a Green Party candidate, how he believed we could protect the planet by consuming less when most of us want more. "We need to study psychology and find out more about the brain", he said. "Deep within us we have an innate desire for comfort, for security and for status. We need to get to grips with this and start crafting alternatives that get the same brain reaction." Scientists have already found the part of the brain that we use when we want to buy something new (the nucleus accumbens in the cortex; we release the neurotransmitter dopamine, a precursor to adrenalin, when we shop).

So could The Uniform Project be the way round buying less but still stimulating our cortex? New York-based Sheena Matheiken has pledged to wear the same dress every day of the year. It's actually seven carbon copies of one dress, which she jazzes up with vintage accessories, thrift store finds and eBay purchases. "Think of it as wearing a daily uniform with enough creative license to make it look like I just crawled out of the Marquis de Sade's boudoir," she says.

The analogy may make you squirm, but Sheena certainly looks cute. She posts a photo of herself in her dress every day and adds a dollar to the charity she's raising money for: the Akanksha Foundation, a grassroots movement that is campaigning for more schools for the 7.5m Indian children currently unable to get an education. She hopes we'll all help out by donating dollars ($360 pays for one child's education) and accessories too.
Sheena says, "I was raised and schooled in India where uniforms were a mandate. Despite the imposed conformity, kids always found a way to bend the rules and flaunt a little personality. Boys rolled up their sleeves, wore over-sized swatches, and hiked up their pants to show off their high-tops. Girls obsessed over bangles, bindis and bad hairdos."

To turn to the practicalities, how on earth do you design a dress that can be worn all year round? Sheena's friend, the designer Eliza Starbuck, copied and modified one of Sheena's favourite dresses. Sheena says, "The dress is designed so it can be worn both ways, front and back, and also as an open tunic. It's made from a durable, breathable cotton, good for New York summers and good for layering in cooler seasons."

I don't have Sheena's stamina, her creative chutzpah, nor her wardrobe space for the accessories, but I think this is an admirable way of cutting back on buying while still retaining a delight in dressing and fuelling our need for novelty. Could this be the return of the uniform?

Her website, where she posts the look of the day: http://www.theuniformproject.com/

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Last edited by Nemova; 24-07-2009 at 07:40 PM.
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24-07-2009
  2
elementary.
 
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been watching this since the beginning.
all credit to her very versatile dress and vast array of accessories
not loving many of the looks but the principle is admirable

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24-07-2009
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I wonder how this dress would smell after the 365 days.

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24-07-2009
  4
Rebaptising my badness
 
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^Oh, but it's not really just one dress. It's seven identical dresses, one for each day of the week.

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24-07-2009
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Ok, I didn't read the article. I was wondering how she could do that much laundery.

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25-07-2009
  6
V.I.P.
 
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^ i was worrying about the same thing

there was another woman who did the same project but she used a brown dress. she didn't raise funds i think

i think it's better if she had only a few pieces in the wardrobe. it doesn't really say much when she can add on anything else she likes.. who knows how many tops she has, to wear with the dress. she may have a TON of things. kind of defeats the purpose.

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25-07-2009
  7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gius View Post
there was another woman who did the same project but she used a brown dress. she didn't raise funds i think

i think it's better if she had only a few pieces in the wardrobe. it doesn't really say much when she can add on anything else she likes.. who knows how many tops she has, to wear with the dress. she may have a TON of things. kind of defeats the purpose.
The little brown dress project is the original & IMO much more interesting.

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25-07-2009
  8
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I wonder if she ever feels like she is in a "fashion rut"

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25-07-2009
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Wow, this sounds interesting! She must have a lot of accessories... I wonder if there are pictures of each outfit?

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25-07-2009
  10
Rebaptising my badness
 
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^There are, actually.

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26-07-2009
  11
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I read about that a couple weeks ago. I think it's an interesting project, but I can't help but think she's cheating a bit by having her designer friend make her a dress that can be worn several different ways already. It would be much harder to do it with something just off the rack at any store, imo. Admirable project, either way though.

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26-07-2009
  12
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That's a really cool idea. I'm checking her site and many of the looks are really cute. Kudos to her for giving back.

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26-07-2009
  13
Power to the 99%
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nemova View Post
^Oh, but it's not really just one dress. It's seven identical dresses, one for each day of the week.
I find 7 identical dresses rather silly

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26-07-2009
  14
Rebaptising my badness
 
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^ You should tell that to Ms. Matheiken, I'm sure she'll love some feedback.

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26-07-2009
  15
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This is interesting, but her attempts to reinterpret the same dress daily interest me less than would, say, the saga of a woman who must wear the EXACT, same outfit without any fun with tights and belts. It just seems self-defeating and much like a magazine's tagline: One Dress, 365 Ways... If I were doing the self-imposed uniform, I'd choose a gray jumpsuit with no accessorizations and instead document the psychological effect, over the course of one year, that this has had on me. Descents into madness make good reading; everyone knows that. :p

The basic principle is interesting, though, I'm not criticizing her philanthropy.

Quote:
"Think of it as wearing a daily uniform with enough creative license to make it look like I just crawled out of the Marquis de Sade's boudoir," she says.
What?! Nevermind, I love her.

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