Women share what they made of the viral 100-day dress challenge
Could you wear the same dress for 100 days? It’s the ultimate antidote to fast fashion – and you get a £70 gift if you succeed. Here, four women take up the challenge of donning the same item day in, day out
- The viral ‘100-Day Dress Challenge’ has attracted more than 1,000 women so far
- Eco friendly company wool& offers £70 voucher if customers can complete it
- The challenge asks customers to wear the same dress for 100 consecutive days
- Dresses made from merino wool which it is claimed is temperature-regulating and are odour-resistant, and they have a versatile shape to dress ‘up’ or ‘down’
How often do you look in your wardrobe and agonise over what to wear? For most women it’s a daily dilemma.
But what if you could get away with putting on the same outfit every single day?
Thanks to a viral experiment launched by an international wool company, women around the world have been doing just that.
The ‘100-Day Dress Challenge’ sees customers — more than 1,000 to date — wearing one of wool&’s eco-friendly dresses for 100 consecutive days.
All you have to do is buy one of their merino wool dresses online (at £131, the swingy shifts all have a slight scoop neck and come in shades of blue, grey, green, purple and black, with long and short-sleeved options) and then wear it, no matter the weather or occasion, taking a picture each day as proof.
Complete the challenge, and Wool& will send you a £70 voucher for another dress.
Impossible? Well, the firm claims merino wool is naturally temperature-regulating and odour-resistant, while the dresses have a versatile shape to dress ‘up’ or ‘down’.
But is it really the solution to taking the stress out of choosing what to wear while being good to the environment, or just a clever marketing gimmick?
SARAH RAINEY spoke to four British women who’ve taken on the challenge to find out what it’s like to wear the same thing, day in, day out, for three-and-a-half months. So how often do you have to wash it? And what do friends and family think?
My husband didn’t notice it was the same dress
Alison Cairns, 55, is chief executive of a mental health charity. She has two adult children and lives in Glasgow with her husband, Stuart. She completed the challenge on March 10.
She says: ‘Although they live with me, my husband and son didn’t notice I was wearing the same dress for ages! In fact, my husband only realised on day 17.
‘My son discovered on day 33 and thought I’d lost the plot!
‘I’m not usually a dress-wearer but I kept seeing adverts for this one. I had a little bonus ball Lottery win, so treated myself.
Pictured: Alison Cairns says she accessorised with a jacket or long cardigan and jewellery
‘At first, it was a novelty and I enjoyed choosing accessories.
‘By day 30 I was getting fed up; wearing it started to seem like a chore. But I got used to it and putting it on became a habit, like brushing my teeth.
‘I accessorised with a jacket or long cardigan and jewellery. I also draped it over jeans and tried the ‘French tuck’ — only tucking the front in.
‘Because wool is temperature-regulating, the dress helped with the menopause.
‘I use a natural deodorant so only needed to wash the dress every two to three weeks. It might sound like a long time but it didn’t smell or feel worse.
Alison says she still wears the dress after the challenge as she says she finally found her style
Alison, who runs a charity foundation, says she treated herself to the dress after a lottery win
‘During the challenge I thought about sustainability and became more aware of fast fashion.
‘On day 101, I woke up, had a think — and put the dress back on. It’s become a work uniform.
‘I bought a second dress as a reward — and still wear the original. Finally, I’ve found my style.’
It’s ideal for working in hospital and days out
Holly Somercloud, 27, is an NHS junior doctor. She lives in Devon with her husband Marcus, and completed the challenge on May 1.
She says: ‘The day after I finished the challenge, it was sunny and I admit it was lovely to take the dress off and slip into a lighter playsuit. I’ve also enjoyed treating myself to new outfits.
‘I’ve tried not to buy too much, as my husband and I are trying to be more eco-friendly.
‘We’ve switched to bars of shampoo and conditioner to reduce packaging, buy Fairtrade food and grow our own vegetables.
Junior doctor Holly Somercloud says she loved not having to choose clothes in the morning
Holly, who lives in Devon, says the dress challenge appealed to her because it is eco-friendly
‘Wearing one item for so long appealed as it’s the antithesis of fast fashion and reduces the need for so much laundry, which uses detergent.
‘I went for a long-sleeved black swing dress. Some days I wore it on its own, but mostly put a T-shirt over the top. It was smart enough for work, casual enough for days off.
‘I loved not having to choose clothes in the morning. Lockdown made it easier, with fewer social events to dress up for.
‘The only time I didn’t wear it all day was at a wedding — black didn’t feel right.
‘Nothing else stopped me though; I wore the dress to the shops, hiking and even cycling. I use a ‘probiotic’ deodorant and had no problem with B O.
Holly says she wore the black, long-sleeved swing dress to the shops, hiking and even cycling
‘I washed my dress once or twice a week at 30 degrees. I’d air it overnight on a hanger.
‘I don’t think this would work with other clothing, as wool is naturally antibacterial and doesn’t hold odour.
‘I wear my clothes quite hard — I got three small holes in the front of the dress around day 70, which I darned myself.
‘While I’ve relished wearing other clothes since, some days, though, I put the dress back on again. It’s the most expensive item in my wardrobe and it will stay in regular rotation for years to come.’
I’ve washed it only once in 58 days
Charlotte Land, 38, runs a tipi hire service for weddings (Totem Tipi) in North Yorkshire.
She has three children and is due to marry in July. She began the challenge on March 22 and is on day 59.
She says: ‘I wanted a challenge mid-lockdown and have always been keen on living minimally — which pretty much never happens with three children! This seemed like a good opportunity to give it a try.
‘I chose a sleeveless dress in washed navy. I wanted to have the flexibility of lots of layering, given the unpredictability of British weather.
Pictured: Business owner Charlotte Land says it wasn’t boring wearing the dress every day
‘I’m halfway through and really enjoying it so far. I usually wear my dress with a T-shirt and light jumper underneath, and my favourite way to style it is with a denim jacket, jeans and Converse trainers.
‘Because of lockdown I haven’t really had any special occasions, but I am getting married in July. Luckily I’m set to finish the challenge ten days before the wedding.
‘You may think it gets boring wearing the same thing, but it doesn’t — it’s just easy and simple when getting ready.
‘My mum definitely thought I was mad taking this on, but my partner and children have been really cool about it.
Charlotte says she has not told her friends and no one has noticed despite seeing her daily
‘I haven’t told any of my friends and no one has noticed, despite seeing me daily on the school run. I’m not sure what that says!
‘It’s shown me that people really don’t care very much about what others wear on a day-to-day basis. I’ve also realised that I have a whole wardrobe full of clothes that don’t need to be there.
‘So far — and I’m almost ashamed to say this — I’ve only washed the dress once!
‘There have been plenty of spot-washes — usually due to children, dogs or toothpaste —but it genuinely doesn’t seem to need a full wash more often than that. There’s no odour, staining or lack of freshness.
‘When this is over, I’ll probably end up wearing the dress again. I’ve loved spending no time at all deciding what to wear each day, and I hope this new approach to clothes will stay with me for good.’
It made me long for more simplicity in my life
Alison Scott, 37, is a university research scientist, working part-time. She lives in Dundee with her husband and two children, and completed the challenge on March 28.
She says: ‘I was initially put off by the price of the marine blue dress, but had just gone back to work after maternity leave and wanted a pick-me-up. I began the experiment on December 18.
‘I preferred the back of the dress to the front, so mostly wore it backwards. Most days, I just added a belt but also bought bright leggings to wear with it — and to match with my little girl.
‘Not having to think about what to wear each day — like Apple founder Steve Jobs, who famously wore the same thing all the time — gave me more mental space.
Pictured: Alison Scott, who says it made her realise she longs for simplicity, says she got bored of the challenge around day 60 but got through it by wearing the marine blue dress with jeans
‘I even wore it on Christmas Day and my birthday.
‘On one occasion, due to a family emergency, I had to pack for a six-hour car journey, and just bringing a couple of pairs of leggings for myself (I was already wearing the dress) was amazing considering the stress of getting everything together for two children.
‘My husband was very supportive, but honestly I don’t think anyone else noticed.
‘I admit I got a bit bored at around 60 days but I got through it by wearing the dress with jeans so it felt a bit more interesting.
‘Due to having small children, I washed it two or three times a week. I’d hang it up and it was easily dry by morning.
Alison says not having to think about what to wear each day gave her more mental space
‘During the challenge I started decluttering the rest of my clothes and parts of my house. It made me long for simplicity in other areas of my life.
‘After 100 days, I felt excited to wear different clothes again. It was thrilling to rediscover what’s in my wardrobe.
‘I’m not sure I’d do the challenge again without the incentive of the £70 voucher, but it’s not put me off wearing the dress.’
Fashion Verdict: Not much style but lots of substance
By Amy Kester, Deputy Style Editor
All of a sudden fast fashion has gone out of fashion. The buzz is now around trying to shop more sustainably, investing in choices that will last for years and recycling clothes from our existing wardrobes — something we’ve seen the Duchess of Cambridge do many a time — rather than always spending on outfits we wear once and then ditch.
So can these dresses from wool& help transform our habits — and save the world?
They’re certainly versatile. The figure-skimming silhouettes mean they work for any body shape from apple to pear.
Each dress comes in a variety of plain, simple block colours that will go with anything in your wardrobe. Though the dress isn’t anything exciting to look at, I can see why it would be a good staple item.
Whether you throw it on under a blazer for work or dress it up for drinks by accessorising with statement jewellery, the possibilities are endless.
For those wanting to show off their figure, you can cinch in the waist with a belt, or style with a fitted jacket. Because of its ability to be cool when it’s hot, and vice versa, merino wool is also a great fabric for all seasons. It washes well, too.
It might not win you any style awards, but if you’re looking for an easy solution to ease you back into day-to-day dressing post lockdown, then this simple-yet-effective dress is a great start. Sometimes, less is more.
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