Reasons: One dress, one week!

Filed in Blog by on July 2, 2012 6 Comments
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You remember last week I set myself a challenge to wear the same dress for a week?

Well I’m delighted to see a handful of you inspired enough to take on the challenge for yourselves.

This is something I’ve been wanting to try for a while for several reasons and I thought I’d outline them for you today:

Landfill waste

We’re still trashing a million tonnes of textiles into the landfill every year (well I know none of YOU are, but people are). In fact, according to Marks and Spencer, one in five of us throw away a new item of clothing after wearing it just once!

Disposable fashion

I have a bit of a thing about disposable fashion and sweatshops. I try to avoid them as much as possible, although I will buy less-than-ethical labels if the clothes are already in a charity shop (would love to hear your views on that in the comments).

I like to support fairtrade and organic clothing companies or British made but they tend to cost more. I know that we should value clothes on a ‘cost per wear’ basis, so by choosing just one dress, ethically made (mine is from People Tree and is fairtrade AND organic) I figure I have to reduce the cost per wear…

Reducing consumption

I saw a documentary recently called ‘Surviving Progress’ and one of the guys on there mentioned something I’ve been feeling for a long time, but not really had the courage to face. Us humans are brilliant at problem solving; we spend time, money, energy and expertise coming up with solutions as to how we can live our lives in a more sustainable way but what none of us want to admit is we need to consume less.

Capsule wardrobe

I’ve been trying to put together a capsule wardrobe for a couple of years now. I’m getting there but still have a way to go so this challenge is a personal experiment. I’m spectacularly rubbish at putting together outfits so this was a way for me to jump in at the deep end, knowing full well I’d have to show all my experimentation in its glory and risk being humiliated in the process. Nothin’ like accountability, eh?!

Less is more

Gok Wan can build a pretty impressive wardrobe of clothes with just 24 items. One of my online friends owns only 16, yes SIXTEEN items of clothing and she gets by pretty well. While I have no intention of owning just 16 items of loveliness in my cupboards I am in awe of her creativity and wanted to put myself to the test.

Cultural expectation

There’s just that whole ‘pressure on women’ cultural thing. Ya know, we can’t be seen in the same dress more than once, we have to look immaculate at the drop of a hat, we have to keep up with the latest fashions to be successful. The papers go wild whenever Kate’s seen ‘recycling’ her outfits; some think she’s being frugal in times of austerity but many criticise her for being cheap. Well good for her I say.

I don’t feel the need to wear something different every day but at times it DOES affect me (when being photographed for press you wouldn’t believe some of the criticisms I received); otherwise I’d have two changes of clothes and not give a damn. So this is a self experiment about how it really feels to wear the same thing day in, day out. It worked for me when I was at school and when I was a checkout girl, so could it work again?

Easier choices?

I’m indecisive and this means I can take a long time deciding what to wear. By choosing just one dress for a week the decision was made; all I had to do then was dress it up or down depending on weather and my commitments for that day.

80/20 rule

I believe the 80/20 rule can be applied to virtually everything in life. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, the assumption is that we wear just 20% of our clothes, 80% of the time. Or that 80% of a project can be finished quickly; it’s the remaining 20% that takes 80% of your time. I am guilty of having things in my wardrobe I seldom wear, so by having to make the same dress look different seven times this forces me into the bowels of my wardrobe to see what I can put into use.

Shop at home

I am hoping that I might find a couple of new favourite outfits. After all, what better way to shop than in your own wardrobe – waste not, want not.

Over to you; I’d love to hear your comments on this. Maybe you all think I’m shallow and who cares if I wear jeans every day. Maybe you are perfectly happy to wear the same clothes day in, day out. Perhaps you fancy a challenge too and can relate to some of what I’ve written. As ever I’d welcome your thoughts!

Coming up next week, the photos and results!

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (6)

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  1. Myriam says:

    I think this is great. I too would love to buy more organic, sustainable clothing, but don’t have the money for it. So I recycle clothes. I bought many of my best clothes in british charity shops. I love them! My lovely long, tight skirt cost only 1 quid and I wore it for the kids christening and still wear it very often (ten years later), In fact I am wearing it now. In our consumer society it’s easy to live on other peoples rubbish. So I make it public that I take second hand clothes for the kids AND for me and I had many bin bags full of clothes for free and not only from my friend who works in a big clothes company. I also say I want a voucher or organic clothing for christmas or birthdays (even though we don’t give big material gifts, usually no more worth then 5 pounds or so). But if people make larger xmas or birthday presents this would be a nice way of supporting fair trade or organic brands. And yes it’s easy to wear one dress for a week. Shawls will change the appearance, as do necklaces or cardigans. And I think it’s great when people can sow. My friend made clothes out of recycled items. She cut away the holes and made new fantastic dresses out of many different clothes. Patchwork. I always wanted to start a sowing class… I think clothes are way overrated in our society. Everyone should feel comfortable in what they are wearing and not being pressurized by the latest fashion. I find the peer pressure in schools especially heartbreaking, we don’t have school uniforms here in germany. But even in Britain young students get a lot of pressure on wearing the “better brands” We make our children and ourselves to slaves to these false values in having to pay for a name and not for the quality. And quality includes who made the clothes and how and the materials, the whole production process etc. Have a nice week!

  2. Kate says:

    I also buy clothing from second-hand stores without looking too closely at country of origin. My thought is that it’s already in the economy and buying it used doesn’t benefit the company that made it or support their questionable business practices. The only thing that gives me pause is that by wearing it I am sort of ‘advertising’ that company. Perpetuating a stereotype and all that….still, second-hand is what balances out the higher cost of fair trade for our family. My kids wear almost exclusively used things (well, I did buy them new underwear…) because if they are going to get it muddy for 3 months and then grow out of it, it’s harder for me to justify spending $50 on a little fair trade dress. We are also big fans of buying pretty things and repurposing them to fit our needs.

  3. SANDY says:

    well I am looking forward to next week, I want lots of tips and ideas, I am rubbish at putting cloths together, please help

  4. Naomi says:

    I’ve been buying nearly all used clothing. I am blessed in that I live in a college town so lots of great stuff is available at consignment shops for a fraction of the original cost. I lost a lot of weight and had to rebuild a wardrobe from scratch and this was a life saver. Then my husband did the same and again, off to consignment I went. Recently, I’ve discovered that some of the thrift stores have excellent selections for even less money! The whole family can get 2nd hand stuff for a pittance including shoes and bathing suits. Some shoes and underwear and socks still have to be bought new. And hair elastics. I think there is an invisible monster that eats those, actually. But I digress. My point is I am now able to dress us all more fashionable than I ever have with zero guilt and for a fraction of original cost. Oh and guess what we do with stuff that doesn’t fit? Yup, drop it off at the charity!

  5. What a great idea! I can’t wait to see the photos. I think I could do it if it was a week I wasn’t working. I imagine it would be simple. Not having to decide what to wear, I mean. But it probably would be very hard for some of the girls I know! I wonder how many people will notice or comment on your dress.

  6. Jennifer says:

    Awesome! I haven’t bought any new casual clothes (minus some for work when I was working on Capitol Hill in D.C. back in 2008 but they were all from the thrift store) since 2001! I wear the same things and mix and match. Oh, I’m sure I’m no fashion goodess but I don’t give one rat’s ass about that. Down here where I live now in judgemental land, I wore the same shirt on purpose for two social functions just because I COULD! No one said a word, except behind my back. But who cares? Here in the house (as I’m not working presently) I wear the same clothes for days. If I sweat, I change.

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