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Teacher Wears The Same Dress For 100 Days For The Best Reason

Teacher Wears The Same Dress For 100 Days For The Best Reason

A full wardrobe but nothing to wear? An art teacher from New Jersey in the US nixed that problem by wearing the same dress for 100 days straight to spread the message that people are not defined by the clothes they wear and that we should spend more time 'doing good' rather than 'looking good'.

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For at least 100 days I'll be wearing this dress, through ceramics projects, blizzards, whatever. Disgusting? Well, it gets washed! Boring? Sure. I love to express myself through what I wear as much as the next American. This is a challenge. And yet, how hard is it really? Agonizing over "what to wear" in the morning will be a thing of the past (helpful when also getting 2 toddlers out the door by 6:30am). Not long ago Americans had only a few clothing sets. My house, built in the 30's, doesn't have any closets besides the one we added ourselves. What if I get a rip? I'll sew a patch with my sewing machine, an item that used to be as common a household item as the TV is today. How will I avoid the stains that come with being an art teacher? How did people once avoid the stains of housework? An apron. Why do this at all!? Well, I'm not the first. Matilda Khal wore the same outfit for three years to simplify her life. @bethanywinz did it too and wrote "1 Year 1 Dress". Steve Jobs, @barackobama , the list goes on. When explaining this project to my middle school daughter I asked her to look at her shirt tag. "Made in Indonesia." We demand lots of clothes cheap, so retailers have to produce in foreign factories where US labor laws don't protect workers. Thankfully, there are some fair trade companies that sell items (like this dress from @thoughtclothing) from factories that treat their employees well. I also told my daughter about the environmental impacts of excessive buying.Making and discarding this "stuff" uses water and pollutes. And for what? So we can look cool?! The challenge I'm presenting is this: Let's think before we buy, wear, discard, and buy again. Can we buy clothes used? Buy responsibly? Buy LESS? Learn to sew a few things? (Stop shaking your head. Everyone's great grandmother used to, so you can too. Boys too.) Do we really need so many new outfits? Are we just perpetuating a culture that defines us based on what we're wearing rather than what we're doing? What if we spent our energy trying to BE good, interesting humans instead of trying to LOOK good and interesting? #Oneoutfitchallenge

A post shared by Julia Mooney OneOutfit100Days (@oneoutfit100days) on

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Julia Mooney, began the One Outfit 100 Days project in September 2018, and decided to document her experience on Instagram.

The mother-of-three middle-school teacher said she wanted to demonstrate to others not to feel defined by the clothes they wear.

Julia, 34, took to Instagram to outline the hopes she had for the 100-day project when she started it six months ago.

A photo of the dress she chose to wear for the 100-day challenge read was captioned: "For at least 100 days I'll be wearing this dress, through ceramics projects, blizzards, whatever.

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"Disgusting? Well, it gets washed! Boring? Sure. I love to express myself through what I wear as much as the next American. This is a challenge.

"And yet, how hard is it really? Agonizing [sic] over "what to wear" in the morning will be a thing of the past (helpful when also getting two toddlers out the door by 6:30am).

"Not long ago Americans had only a few clothing sets. My house, built in the 30's, doesn't have any closets besides the one we added ourselves.

"What if I get a rip? I'll sew a patch with my sewing machine, an item that used to be as common a household item as the TV is today. How will I avoid the stains that come with being an art teacher? How did people once avoid the stains of housework? An apron."

Julie spoke about others who had completed such challenges before or lived by similar principles including co-founder of Apple Steve Jobs, former US president Barack Obama and former art director Matilda Kahl.

She highlighted her aim to call out how a high demand for cheap clothing leads to unfair working conditions in countries without labour laws to protect the workers who make them.

"The challenge I'm presenting is this: Let's think before we buy, wear, discard, and buy again. Can we buy clothes used? Buy responsibly? Buy LESS? Learn to sew a few things?" she asked.

"Do we really need so many new outfits? Are we just perpetuating a culture that defines us based on what we're wearing rather than what we're doing?

"What if we spent our energy trying to BE good, interesting humans instead of trying to LOOK good and interesting?" she added.

She began her challenge alongside her husband, who had decided to wear the same shirt every day.

Her four-year-old son also wanted to take part. He wore the same shirt for ten days but then saw another shirt he liked and opted out.

Julia shared a photo of her in the dress on most days, which she bought from Thought Clothing - a U.K.-based retailer that sells sustainable attire. The dress cost just $50 after shipping across the Atlantic.

In November she spoke to Good Morning America and said that she deliberately chose a fair trade dress to support an ethical company.

And, perhaps on a less altruistic level, she wanted a versatile piece she could pair with different accessories to switch up her look.

She explained how she wanted to start a conversation around how clothes shouldn't define us: "I was a little bit fed up with the cultural expectation to go shopping and spend all this money for other people to approve of me.

"There is no rule that says I cannot wear the same thing every day if I choose to, so I thought why not. I'm just gonna do that and then we can talk about how our clothes really don't define us.

"The things that we do define us, and if we spend less energy trying to look good and trying to create this superficial image of who we are, then we might have more energy to do meaningful things and define ourselves based on the good that we do instead of how good we look."

Julia explained that she also makes eco-friendly, ethical choices daily in her home.

"We're always kind of conscious of what we're using, what we're wasting and where it's coming from," she confessed.

Julia had just started a new job when she decided to embark on the journey and new way of life.

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She didn't tell anyone at her new school about the project in a bid to see how long it would take someone to notice she wore the same dress daily.

Some of her co-workers eventually admitted that people had been asking questions - but her students were more direct: "Some of them didn't notice at all, which I guess is expected because, you know, I'm just a teacher.

"But some of them noticed on the second day and asked me why. They see me more, I guess. I think maybe being that they're 12 and 13, they're just a little more curious and bold.

She added: "I think my colleagues just didn't want to be rude and ask me to my face."

Julia's challenge came to an end on February 13th 2019 and she shared a photo of fellow teachers and staff at the school she works at wearing the same clothing as her in the final three days as a show of solidarity.

The caption said: "Turns out I work with a pretty cool staff. Here's a shot of 17 teachers just in my building who chose to support this project by wearing the same thing for these past three days. Great way to end #OneOutfit100days on #day100."

She celebrated the end of her mission by using parts of the dress to make new ones and detailing what she'd taken away from the project:

"In the face of criticism, petty or otherwise, consistently challenge yourself to respond with equal parts grace and hard evidence. Never get defensive.

"Some people will not want to listen and prefer their own rationalized [sic] conclusions. Respect that we are all riding on very different journeys through life. Stay friends while you stay the course."

She added that she's realised that hemp is the "ultimate rockstar fiber [sic", and that all dresses need "deep pockets".

"Showcasing the body I'm proud of is as empowering as keeping it to myself. I will forever reserve the exclusive right to choose which approach I prefer at all times."

She also revealed some new words and terms she'd come across along the way: sharing economy (when an owner rents out something they are not using, such as a car, house or bicycle to a stranger without a third party business in between) and prosumerism (when the line between consumer and producer is blurred, everyone can be both and the consumer takes part in the design process).

She concluded: "DM me...a thing cool people who use IG say. Recycling is great. Thrift is great. But consuming less is the attitude we must adopt to protect our planet long term."

Featured Image Credit: Instagram/Oneoutfit100days

Topics: Life News, Style News, Real, Fashion

Amelia Jones

Amelia is a freelance journalist and editor specialising in beauty, health, fitness and lifestyle. She has previously worked for titles including Women's Health, Cosmopolitan, Stylist, Red and the Mail on Sunday.

 

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