1 Dress, 1 Month – My Experience

1 Dress, 1 Month Project | August 7-September 5, 2016

So, as you can probably see…I wore this black dress for 30 days. Actually, I’ve worn it for more than 30 days, but I’ll share more about that later.

Why did I wear 1 dress for 1 month?

As someone who has had difficulty feeling like they fit in, I’ve been obsessed with figuring out my own identity through fashion. The logistics of the project appealed to me because it allowed me to select an outfit to represent myself for a month and have the ability to make micro adjustments to fine tune my style.

My hypothesis:

  • People would notice and think I was weird (honestly, was REALLY concerned about this during the first week)
  • I would get tired of wearing the dress
  • I would get stressed trying to style the dress differently everyday
  • I would get ready for work in less time than before I started the project

Before starting the project I:

  • Bought this dress, here, from & Other Stories
  • Put away all my clothes except for a few pieces that I thought I would mix and match with the dress. Check out that post to see what I selected, here.
  • Bought this steamer, here. This project (with this dress at least) would have been IMPOSSIBLE without it. No joke.
  • Created an excel spreadsheet to track the project including:
    • How long it took me to get ready in the morning
    • The quality of my morning (good, bad, neutral)
    • If the dress smelled or needed to be washed
    • If the dress got damaged and needed to be mended

Observations:

  • People didn’t notice or if they did, they didn’t say anything to me.
  • Most of the clothing items I thought I could pair with the dress didn’t work out. (As you can probably tell from the pictures – I styled the dress very minimally)
  • On average, I spent more time getting ready in the morning, but my mood in the morning was also better than before the project because I replaced the time it took me to get dressed in the morning with breakfast and listening to the morning news.
  • I spent a lot more time on my hair and makeup in the morning and that made me happier and more confident.
  • After about two weeks, I completely forgot that I was doing the project while getting ready in the morning.
  • After the 7th day, a seam in the back of the dress started to rip. (I was convinced that it was going to rip in public during the project, but somehow it managed to survive!) After the 8th day the hem in the right sleeve almost completely came out. After the 28th day, I noticed some pilling in a small section on the back. Wearing a damaged dress bothered me.
  • During the project, I saw a picture of my former ~40 piece capsule wardrobe and couldn’t believe how many clothes I used to have! (Click here to see that picture)
  • I enjoyed the simplicity of only having one piece of clothing to care for and store
  • I felt liberated. Clothing ads and drastic sale signs in stores felt like they didn’t apply to me.

How often I washed the dress: (and other topics regarding to the care of the dress)

  • I hand washed the 100% viscose dress with laundry detergent (designed for dark clothing) in the sink once a week. For the first two weeks, I smelled the dress (I actually made Sangbin smell it too) each day to make sure it didn’t smell bad. After that I pretty much trusted that it was ok and washed it once a week.
  • I steamed the dress daily to get rid of wrinkles and make it look presentable.
  • I really felt like an owner of my dress instead of a consumer of many things. I learned how to care of my things.

Am I still wearing the dress?

Yes, at least at work. On what would have been “Day 31” I went to work in black high waisted slacks, a fitted orange shirt, and a crushed velvet belt with small gold leaf details.

I wanted to go to work after the project in “normal clothes” at least once so I could get a better perspective on what this project had done to me.

The morning of “Day 31” was surprisingly difficult for me. I was excited to wear pants, but I also had a sense of fear that my outfit wasn’t “professional enough” – which was something I didn’t have to worry about with my black dress. About an hour into the work day, a co-worker told me that I looked different and then commented that it was because I wasn’t wearing black.

Should you do this project?

Maybe…here’s what I think:

Before starting this project, I wanted to know the answers to the following questions:

  • Do I really need an expansive wardrobe?
  • What am I willing to sacrifice to have my ideal wardrobe?

I would not recommend doing this project if your goal is to de-clutter your wardrobe. My guess would be that it would be too big of a shock and that you would be counting down the days until you could get back to your normal wardrobe.

At the time that I started this project, I had already gone through the following:

  • Dramatically reduced my wardrobe several times (when I was 16, 17, 18, 22 and again at 24). Those times helped me to maintain a small wardrobe, but the clothes within that small wardrobe cycled really quickly in and out to fit my changing styles. During this time, the only quality pieces I acquired were shoes. Almost all other clothes didn’t survive.
  • Consciously decided that I wanted to transition to a uniform wardrobe instead of a generic minimal based wardrobe after reading articles and seeing famous people do the same.

If you’re REALLY going to transition to a minimal wardrobe AND be happy with it – you have to pivot your beliefs and then pivot your behaviors. Meaning that you can’t just change a behavior (e.g. go from wearing a different outfit everyday to wearing the same one everyday)

I’ve noticed a lot of posts encourage hopeful minimalists to  go through de-cluttering exercises and while I do think they provide a buzz from a sense of accomplishment (look how much free space I have in my closet I have!) the results are often only short term. At least in my experience, it wasn’t until I changed my beliefs about clothes that I was able to be happy with less.

If you do the project, I would love if you used #1dress1month or #1outfit1month so I can see how it goes!

Thank you to everyone who followed along on my journey! Your words of encouragement and support mean so much.

xxxo

Maria

4 thoughts on “1 Dress, 1 Month – My Experience

  1. This dress looked great on you and was in keeping with your existing capsule wardrobe. I looked forward to seeing how you styled it each day – inspirational!

  2. Thank you for sharing! It was really interestingt to read and a lot to think about. I liked how you built up the post – it was easy to read and had more impact than a long story 🙂 I like the idea of a uniform, but I am not ready for it and not sure if it will ever be something for me (as my hobby is sewing and knitting) 🙂

  3. I found it so interesting to follow this project! I remember reading a story about a woman who wore the same dress every day for a year, so the 30 days is a little more manageable. Although I have a capsule wardrobe and have minimized a lot, I don’t know if this project is totally right for me, but definitely intriguing!

  4. I randomly came across your video that you made about this. I have tried a capsule wardrobe (mixed results), and I do strongly believe in buying ethically – I managed to bypass my favorite unethical choice today and go straight to Finesterre (a super cool company here in the U.K.) to make a better & smarter choice.

    I think I want to try this 1 dress 1 month idea starting in January. It will be a challenge for sure – London, in January, when I walk/tube/bus everywhere?? – but one I think might be good for me too.

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