fashion

"For one week, I wore the same dress to work. This is what happened."

Nearly three weeks ago I decided to do a social experiment. On myself.

The challenge; to wear the same dress every day at work for one week.

Suddenly,  the negative effect that the fashion industry has on the planet became very apparent to me. Not only from a sustainability point of view, but also from an ethical standpoint. From an environmental perspective alone; did you know it takes 2,700 litres of water to make one t-shirt? To put it into meaningful terms, that’s about three years worth of drinking water for one person. Crazy, right? This isn’t even taking into account the textile waste that, by 2030, is expected to be a 148 million ton problem or the thousands of polluting chemicals used to dye our beautiful threads.

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My second key reason, was that I was previously a massive culprit of an absolute bargain buy from any of the well-known brands. $7 on sale for a cute dress? Amazing. It was mine. Then I started listening to sustainability podcasts and doing my research. Exactly how could my purchase be justified when the women making them, with so much love, care and attention to detail, are being paid next to nothing? In Bangladesh, the majority of garment workers receive salaries of around $45 AUD per month, about half of what is considered an acceptable living wage.

The evidence was mounting up and my conscience couldn’t cope. So off I went on my challenge.

I’ve never been massively interested in fashion, although I do have a substantial wardrobe. Working in media in a client facing role means I have to dress fairly smartly, so I knew there was a bit of pressure to change it up a bit as I was worried I might get a bit of judgement from my peers if they noticed. In hindsight, this was all in my head. Then it occurred to me, the problem was that we all care far too much about what everyone else thinks. If you eliminate that worry and focus on what matters more, the environment, you alleviate the angst and can then rock it with confidence.

Monday

The dress started out on the Saturday prior as a blue denim style material, which I then decided to dye, with a natural dye from Rit Dye. So off I went to work on Monday, day one, in my new dark grey dress, a pair of black tights and a short, black jacket. I also curled my hair. Totally easy, because it was like any other day.

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Tuesday

The uneasiness had already started to creep in a tad, so I added a statement necklace, a nude jacket and a short pair of black boots. I got a compliment on the necklace, so I felt pretty smug about my disguise detracting from my dress. However, I kept my jacket on when I could as I thought the fact it was sleeveless would give it away. I needed to give myself a bit of a talking to that night to tell myself I was ridiculous for being concerned someone might notice I was wearing the same dress two days in a row.

Wednesday

Today was a bit chilly, so I popped on a thin, navy jumper underneath and a pair of grey leggings and heels. I happened to bump into a professional football player from the team where I’m from in the UK, Brighton and Hove Albion, on my lunch break. Typical when I’ve been wearing the same, unwashed dress three days straight.

Still no one had said anything. However I had confided in a male colleague I sit next to, who informed me he had worn the same pair of pants every day for the past two weeks. Why can men get away with it yet women can’t?

The dress was going to get a wash tonight.

 

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Ok guys. I put myself on a self imposed social experiment this week. Since Monday I have worn the same dress to work every day. I’m absolutely convinced psychology plays a massive part in why people feel the need to shop consistently (addiction, judgement). When I told one of my colleagues at the end of today; ????️) he hadn’t noticed and ????️) he said he’d worn the same pair of pants (trousers) for the past 2️⃣ weeks….Why is it seemingly acceptable for guys to wear the same thing every day, yet girls have a stigma around it?…”Oh my god, didn’t she wear that yesterday….????” Ok so that didn’t happen, but I still felt the need to disguise myself slightly… Different shoes, jackets, hairstyles….Anyway it’s been fun and proves NO ONE NEEDS SO MANY CLOTHES!!! I’m going to carry on experimenting. #watchthisspace ♡ ° ° ° ° ° ° ° #shareyourrewear #daretorewear #rethinkfashion #sustainablelifestyle #sustainableclothing #rewear #doublewear #wearwhatyouhave #wearwhatsinyourcloset #slowfashionseason #dyeddress #dyeingforchange #memademay #dyersofinstagram #fashionover30

A post shared by Threadbare Assembly (@threadbareassembly) on

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Thursday

I had started to feel a bit funny about wearing the dress. I actually wanted to wear something new. So I spent a bit more time on my make-up on day four, added a dusty pink indoor scarf and a thin black belt plus a longer black jacket and a pair of chunky heeled, black barely-theres. I was ready to confess and see if anyone had noticed.

Friday

I wore something else to work on day five. I felt like I had proved my point although I did feel like a fraud, a little bit like I’d cheated on myself. I felt guilty. However, I felt like I’d done a great thing and resorted to what all Millennials do and engaged Instagram (@threadbareassembly). I’m not going to pretend it went viral but it was definitely a conversation starter and gauged more interest than I’d expected, particularly with my colleagues who were quite impressed!

My intention was to raise a bit of awareness and the moral of my story is that we all consume too much and the ‘need’ to buy new things is probably more psychological than anything else. With the fashion industry being the third most polluting in the World, we should probably all have a second thought next time we reach for our next fast fashion purchase; could we perhaps look in the back of our wardrobe for that LBD that’s been forgotten for the past two years?

My four days of using a capsule wardrobe have set me up for a lifetime of being more conscious and on June 21 I will be commencing a three month challenge, along with 10,000 other people around the world, to not purchase any new clothes at all. It is encouraged to wear what you already have, fix anything that needs a bit of TLC and, if you really must, you can thrift. I will be solely wearing what is in my wardrobe, as other than being naked, this is the most sustainable way of dressing.

For more information or to jump on the bandwagon, sign up here at Collaction and use the hashtag #slowfashionseason on your socials.

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The 4 things you should never, ever wear to work, according to an expert.

“I was told to leave and buy a new top.” 5 women on being told to change outfits at work.

Tags: clothes , fashion , features , lifestyle , work-wear
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