Updated: May 2
When my daughter and I decided to do Wool&Co's 100 Day Wool Dress Challenge, I thought it would be a fun bonding experience for us and a chance to teach others about the environmental consequences of fast fashion. I didn't realize how much it would change how I felt about my clothing or my own relationship to "fashion". It was truly a transformative experience. We wore them from Fall to Spring - skiing, sledding, skating, hiking, dancing, lounging, visiting, and everything in between. We wore them when we had Covid. We wore them for holidays and birthdays. We wore them for 100 Days! Our challenge is over, but the lessons we learned will stick with us forever.
People had lots of questions about the challenge over the last 100 days. Here are my answers:
How does the dress feel? Do you like it?
I really and truly love my dress. I am not getting paid by anyone to say that and there are no affiliate links in this post, so you can take my word for it. The dress is comfortable, easy to wear, and has great pockets. I love the fabric, the color, and the cut. I would probably never have bought this dress if it wasn't for the 100 Days Dress Challenge because I usually buy used clothes and because it cost more money than I usually spend on clothing, but it was definitely money well spent. After 100+ days, the dress looks like I just bought it and I still love it.
Was the Challenge hard?
Not for me, but I realize it could be hard. I know some people lose fashion and love shopping and I totally get that. We are all different. I love gardening and if someone told me I couldn't touch soil for 100 days, I would have a really hard time. That being said, I was never worried about my own ability to wear the dress for 100 days because I already re-wear my clothing and have a capsule wardrobe. I also have a lifestyle that makes wearing the same dress easy and it was winter, which means most people only saw my winter jacket and big boots most days anyway. I was worried about remembering to take the photos, but I managed to do it despite several close calls. If you are not used to re-wearing clothing, I suggest trying a capsule wardrobe first or trying Wool&'s new 30 Days Challenge.
How did you care for the dress?
I'm ashamed to say that I have spent most of my life utterly unaware of how to take care of clothing. Maybe because I get most of my clothing used or maybe because I always considered it fussy, I just haven't put much time or effort into learning to care for my clothes. But this challenge has shown me that, with just a little effort, I can keep my clothes looking fresh and clean day after day. I developed a simple care routine for myself and my family that I plan to continue. I wrote it up at the bottom of the post, if you'd like to try it out.
Did you feel gross? (Or, how often did you wash yourself and the dress?)
Only close friends and relatives asked this question, but I'm all for airing dirty laundry (literally). The short answer is this - no, I didn't feel gross. I washed myself as often as I usually do (read this post for more on washing), wore my refillable deodorant from We Fill Good, and periodically asked my family for a smell check. I washed the dress when it looked dirty or started to smell (which really only happened twice!) or, a couple of times, when it just felt like it had been a long time since I washed it. I know some people don't wash their dress for the full 100 days and I think that's great, but I'm not ready for that level yet.
How was the Challenge for your 6-year-old?
Honestly, when we started this challenge in November, I wasn't sure whether my daughter would be able to complete it. One hundred days is a lifetime when you're six and my daughter used to have a habit of
changing her clothes randomly throughout the day on a whim. However, she succeeded with flying colors. Not only did she responsibly wear the dress day after day, but she actually learned about caring for her clothing and a bit about laundry in the process. It took some time, but she realized she needed to hang up her dress each night and fold her pants (which she re-wore for two or three days at a time).
All-in-all, I am really proud of her. She never complained about wearing the dress once (it's really very comfortable) and she was happy to explain the Challenge to people. A true green champion!
What lessons did you learn from the Challenge?
First, I learned that hanging the clothes you intend to re-wear makes a big difference psychologically. It's very ritualistic and kind of lovely to hang up your dress each night and put it on in the morning. Plus, it makes the dress feel new and cared for.
The other lesson I learned completely surprised me. I have never been into fashion and put little effort into my "style", but I realized that wearing the same dress every day gave me the chance to look more put-together and stylish. I found a sweater in my closet that matched the dress and my mom found one in hers. I also received a pair of earrings and a necklace as Christmas gifts that matched my dress. This made me realize that, if you wear the same outfit all the time, buying a few pieces of jewelry that match it is actually okay.
I have resolved to put effort into finding three outfits for each season that I really like and that feel good, including accessories. This doesn't mean a shopping spree, but maybe a visit to my local thrift stores and to ThredUp and Patagonia Worn Wear to supplement what I already have.
Are you still wearing your dress?
All the time! When the challenge ended a few weeks ago, I started rotating another outfit into my wardrobe just to make laundry easier. Now I wear each outfit for two to five days (depending on
how messy I get) and then switch to the other one for two to five days. My daughter, however, is not still wearing her dress very often. She's probably worn it twice in the last few weeks. I think she was ready to be done at the end of 100 days, while I could have kept it up indefinitely.
Did it make a difference?
Partially because I did look more put together, I got several compliments on my "new look" from friends and family and from strangers. This gave me an opportunity to talk to others about why I was doing the challenge. Although I can't quantify how many people I influenced to try the challenge, I do know I shared my experience and reasons with many people over the last 100 days - from strangers at the supermarket and DMV to GreenLifeNH readers to people I work with to close friends and family. My husband, who did some research of his own, is going to start the Wool and Prince 100 Day Challenge in the fall. As a teacher, he has a lot of influence and I hope the movement spreads with his students.
What dress are you getting with your prize money?
It took me weeks to choose my first dress and it'll take weeks to choose my second. For those who know me, you know I hate shopping and have a really hard time making decisions. I thought about getting the short-sleeved version of the same dress in the same color (the Teal Rowena Swing Dress, Long) because it would make the decision easier, but I haven't completely made up my mind yet. I'm definitely going short-sleeved for the summer, but that's as far as I've gotten so far. My daughter has fewer options, but will also be going short-sleeved.
I highly recommend doing this challenge or the new 30 Days Challenge Wool& announced recently. Please feel free to ask me anything about my experience or, if you live close by, to try on my dress and feel the fabric. :)
Stay Green, NH!
HANNAH'S SIMPLE CLOTHING CARE ROUTINE
1) When you remove your clothes at night, check for...
Stains: treat stains with a stain stick (I love the unpackaged one I got from We Fill Good) and rinse, hanging clothes overnight to dry
Tears: deal with all tears, no matter how small, right away. This prevents them from getting bigger.
Smells: Hand wash smelly clothing quickly in the sink and hang to dry.
Ticks: We are in New Hampshire, after all.
2) Hang or fold clothes right away. This prevents wrinkles AND makes re-wearing feel less strange psychologically for some reason.
3) Wash less often, but wash better. I took the time to actually read the care instructions on our dresses and to follow them. I can't usually be bothered to do this for a family of five's clothing, but when two people are wearing the same thing for 100 days, it made sense. Now that we plan on wearing less outfits, I plan to care for those outfits better.
Check out our Eco-Laundry 101 Page for more information on sustainable laundry.