Not only did her students begin to notice, but others as well. She would hear whispers in the hallways and during class. Wherever she went, she felt as though she was being eyeballed. “Is she still wearing that dress?” She heard from the girls. Any day now, the question would come, and she’d have to explain herself. She had never expected, so far, that this would be a snowball and that soon the same question would be asked by people from all over the world. But when they heard her answer, they were all taken aback. What might this possibly be about?
As a teacher, you must show up at school, wearing proper clothes. Some schools do have uniforms for teachers, but others do not. And this means that teachers must prepare different outfits in advance every day. Julia had been a teacher for a while and always ensured that she was dressed nicely and accessorized. As an art teacher, she loved colored clothes and interesting outfits. But her outfit at school for the first day was pretty strange…
Planning Her Outfit
When teaching art at the William Allen Middle School in Moorestown, New Jersey, Julia Mooney planned to dress for the occasion. This dress attracted such controversy that news outlets across the world covered its story. When it comes to clothing, what could be wrong? Julia didn’t realize just how well people would respond to her when she bought that dress.
With the new job came additional benefits, but causing her to have unpleasant thoughts the night before. After the introduction of a new class, she knew the attention would be on her. She didn’t know her dress was causing so much controversy in her school. They all gossiped about it, and before Julia finally spoke about it, she knew it was hopeless.
Finding The Dress
Julia saw the dress online and knew she needed to have it. Nobody expected to see her wear this dress on the first day of school, however. Soon enough, this new art teacher would attract so much attention that if she did not explain herself, she would even get fired!
Who Is She?
If you wonder who Julia Mooney is, then you should know that she’s not just a middle school art teacher but also a mom of two. She is a New Jersey resident and teaches at William Allen Middle School in Moorestown. But her lifestyle choices are not precisely what you would consider normal…
A Family Woman
Julia is fond of spending as much time as possible with her family. She takes them and teaches them on farms about animals, and she likes to knit clothes too. On one of their journeys, they went to an alpaca farm, and she was given some wool. She also educates her kids to do gardening and other skills that will be helpful in the future. Things at the new school, however, were a bit different. Here’s how things all started…
Minding Her Own Business
Mooney knew that the new school would give her some odd answers, but she never felt that she would be self-conscious about her dress. Mooney said, “I don’t really usually think of myself as somebody who really cares that much [about] what people think.” Things were about to become different, though!
A Perfect Fit
After getting her two toddlers ready for kindergarten, she was on her way. Her new dress suited her perfectly, and she was delighted with her purchase, which was not cheap at $50. She needed to reach her goal, although this was not necessarily the prettiest dress she could buy. However, her first day at school was far from a smooth-sailing experience.
A Hot Day
Julia also felt hopeful. Since she tentatively presented herself to her 6th and 7th-grade pupils, she felt like everything was going swimming… That is before the outside temperature begins to rise. Julia put herself strategically under the air conditioning unit, but she didn’t feel any cooler than that. Her skin started to flush, and she realized, “Oh no… I’m sweating! The horror!”
It Was Getting Hotter
She tried, even though embarrassed, to stay on the course, fanning herself with a book. But all she could think about was the summer sun that had slowly crept past the 90-degree mark. Hours went by, and the day felt like it was endless. While the students were thrilled to meet the new art educators, Julia felt like she wasn’t making a good impression that day.
The Rest Of The Day
After a long stream of introductions, the classes felt endless! Every 13-year-old who walked through the doors to meet her had a new opportunity to make an impression, and she felt like she was losing it. The day was finally over; she came back, relieved, to her car. She was mortified to feel her dress sticking up against her back like a damp cheesecloth. She told herself that a fresh day would be tomorrow at least, as she gently scrubbed it in the sink and hung it to dry.
The Next Day
It was just the beginning! When Mrs. Mooney arrived at school the next morning, some of the pupils realized she was not like their other teachers. Some of her students discovered that the art teacher was wearing the same outfit as the previous day. Another day went by, and it became clear that people were starting to talk about it.
They Were Talking About Her
While others were not exactly receptive for the first couple of days, everybody recognized it soon enough. Was there something wrong with the art teacher? Nobody could understand why the new instructor didn’t change her outfit. One of the students noticed that her boots had been changed, and she added a scarf.
She Wore It Everywhere
At the age of 13, girls are increasingly aware of their appearance and the clothes they wear. So, it was no wonder some of the girls noticed Mrs. Mooney instantly. You will be surprised when you see why Julia wore the same dress as the days went by. She wore that dress at school and during the weekends and whenever she was in town!
Why She Wore The Dress
Julia knew that it was only a matter of time before anyone said it, although no one had asked her what the explanation for her decision was. Julia knew that she would have to answer many questions when individuals had the confidence to voice their fears about her unchanging dress. In this new workplace, will she be in trouble?
Didn’t She Have Other Clothes?
Soon, Julia was the talk of William Allen Middle School. She wore her grey dress every day of the week, and people could not turn their attention away from it. The speculation started flying. Some teachers were concerned. Has Mrs. Mooney faced difficulties? Pupils, too, began to wonder. But as every high school student knows, teenagers could be ruthless.
The Elephant In The Room
As Julia avoided the elephant in the room, she continued teaching. She was aware of the snickers and whispers that followed her in the halls and the playground. And her colleagues had begun to look at her differently, treating her as if she were frail but refusing to question her about her wardrobe explicitly. But she was aware that she had to ride it out. She was interested in staying on the course. So, she put her head down and walked the best way she knew how.
Following The Rules
The comments about her were whether Julia’s behavior was a bit odd or hurting the children? Some parents even spoke to the principal, suggesting a meeting to talk about their concerns. Was Julia going to be fired for wearing the same dress each day? However, she didn’t even break any rules.
Was She Struggling?
Has this new teacher had lots of financial issues?. You can’t possibly own just one single dress, no matter how poor you are. Plus, Julia arrived from time to time, wearing different shoes and scarves. For her art class, including aprons, she also had numerous sweaters and other items. So, what was the story behind the grey dress exactly? All of them were curious, and it could not last forever.
Others Were Bothered By It
Others were not able to stand her ever-changing appearance. Some also didn’t approve of Julia’s lifestyle. Most thought it was boring for an art teacher to wear the same grey dress. But for Julia, there were a few reasons to wear this outfit. Parents are surprised to learn the truth about their children’s teachers until the mystery is solved!
Addressing The Question
By the time Julia’s third week came to a close, people’s excitement had boiled over. She saw it on everyone’s face that there was a problem. And she had a good sense of when to tackle it. But what was the story behind the much-discussed grey dress? And Julia, why wouldn’t she take it off? By now, everyone was dying to listen.
Still Wearing The Dress
Julia had a smart strategy up her sleeve, you see. It was all carefully arranged, and for a reason, she had chosen the simple grey dress. I walk down the halls, and they’re like, “Is she still wearing that dress?’” Julia said. Regardless, as more and more individuals took notice, she could not help but smile.
The teacher explained, “I needed to pick a dress that was going to be versatile because I’m going to be wearing it through the winter, and when we started the school year, it was 90 degrees.” When they finally gathered the courage to ask her why she had worn the same dress for weeks, she led her students to her Instagram page. Her feed on Instagram held all the answers.
An Outfit For A Hundred Days
She posted an Instagram post called One Outfit 100 Days, which reads, “For at least 100 days I’ll be wearing this dress, through ceramics projects, blizzards, whatever. Boring? Sure. I love to express myself through what I wear as much as the next American. This is a challenge.” But still, why would someone do such a boring thing? Well, she has four terrific reasons.
The first explanation is a simple one as to why Julia chose to spend 100 days wearing the same dress. It’s time-saving. Since she had to look after two toddlers, a minimalist lifestyle makes sense. As she enjoyed saying goodbye to the agonizing problem of what to wear, she had more spare time with her loved ones. Her reasons don’t stop there, however. She has a far deeper message for consumers everywhere.
Julia has developed an interest in slow fashion. What is, then, ‘quick fashion’? ‘Fast fashion’ is literally cheap, fashionable fabric and cost-effective clothing, but, unfortunately, it does not last long. An example is Forever 21. Julia explained, “We demand lots of clothes cheap, so retailers have to produce in foreign factories where US labor laws don’t protect workers.” ‘Slow fashion’ is just the opposite — promoting good quality and fair labor practices.
Due to the increased demand for lower-quality made goods, many companies employ underage workers in their overseas factories. Worst of all, there are no protections for these children. By purchasing fewer clothing items, Julia curbs the desire to employ cheaper workers. While Julia’s decision was the primary reason for this, other factors played an important role.
Julia is eager to be a conscious customer, and she is also battling the fashion industry’s environmental effects. Due to the growing consumption levels of clothing worldwide, unsustainable environmental policies are depleting Earth’s precious resources. Julia avoided contributing to her carbon footprint by choosing a fair-trade hemp dress from a London-based clothing company named ‘Thought.’ How have people responded to Julia’s project?
Disgust is the most common reaction she has received. Some individuals just think that every day wearing the same clothing item is not hygienic. And her reply is food for thought. “I just tell them: this is not a project about hygiene. I wash it as needed. I come to work clean. Lots of people wear uniforms, and they are not assumed to be dirty.” Julia’s 100-day challenge with one outfit has another thought-provoking takeaway.
Food For Thought
“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?” People around the world were stunned by the letter from the teacher, as they supported her statement.
Comments quickly blew up on Julia’s Instagram, and she gained over 6,500 followers. A supporter even wrote, “All for integrating sustainable strategies into everyday items, what a movement this teacher started!” With 17 teachers joining her cause, including her husband, Patrick, a history teacher, who also wore the same shirt for 100 days, some of Julia’s students and peers soon followed her example. Local news stations soon caught wind of the story of the teacher.
Staying The Course
“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 realized that the “ultimate rockstar fiber” is hemp and that all dresses need “deep pockets.”
Julia challenged everyone by saying, “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? 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?”
After The Challenge
Julia gives more food for thought on her Instagram feed: “When this is over, I’ll change more often, but it won’t consume me like it once did. I’ll shop, but I’ll do so mindfully. I’ll have less, but not to this extreme. We shouldn’t let our inability to do everything stop us from doing what we can.”
Finishing The Challenge
Julia’s challenge came to an end on February 13, 2019, and she posted a photo of fellow teachers and school staff she is working on wearing the same clothes as her in the final three days as a sign of unity. 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.”
Dealing With Criticism
By using parts of the dress to create new ones and detailing what she’d taken away from the project, she celebrated the end of her challenge. The teacher said, “In the face of criticism, petty or otherwise, constantly challenge yourself to respond with equal parts grace and hard evidence. Never get defensive.”
She continued, “Who mends clothes anymore? With clothes so cheap and nearly disposable, it doesn’t seem worth our time … So much so that this is a lost art. Maybe we should reconsider this. Maybe it’s worth fixing our clothes, so they continue to serve us. Maybe if we spent more on durable, ethically produced clothes, we’d value them more and be more motivated to fix them. Seems like a better option than the landfills.”
In an interview, Julia stated, “I like to wear clothes; I like to express myself… I know that we are all looking at what the other person is wearing,” she continued, “To wear the same thing every day is uncomfortable because we have this deeply ingrained cultural expectation of changing every day. It’s weird, but because it’s weird, it’s making us all think.” What do you think about the motive Julia? Could you take the challenge and wear for 100 days the same outfit?
In a somewhat different way, Elizabeth McCarthy went about this challenge. She was featured in an elaborate video chat, instead of simply wearing the same dress for 100 days, in which she explained instructions to others on how to wear the same dress for 100 days in a row. Elizabeth wanted to be more mindful of what she was wearing and how often she wore it, just like Julia had done.
So, instead of buying new clothes, she wanted to get the most value out of just one piece, one dress, that she already had. And so, she challenged herself for 100 days to wear it. She thought carefully about what dress she would use when starting the challenge. It needed, after all, to be versatile enough to make the entire experiment work. In the project, the fabric of the dress also played an important part. But how was she doing that?
Elizabeth chose a simple tank dress from a brand called Wool&, to start with. There are four different ways of wearing the dress itself: like a V-neck, like a crew neck, with a belt, or without. The fabric allows it to dry quickly, so the next morning it will be ready to wear when it’s washed. It’s made of 49% ultra-soft merino wool, 33% Tencel lyocell, and 18% nylon. It can be worn in any season thanks to its special blend.
The dress will be nice to wear in the summer, and it’s super easy to layer them with other clothes in the winter. Durability is the cherry on top. After wearing 100, the dress was as good as it was new! To encourage women to wear one dress, Wool& set an objective to wear one dress for 100 consecutive days. You had to state your opinion and take part in the process. To those who volunteered, the brand would send a dress for 50 people.
Unbelievably, the challenge proceeded smoothly. Among the women who took part in the amazing challenge was Elizabeth. The challenge aimed to encourage these females to consume less while being happy with what they have. Much like Julia said earlier; consumerism is a huge problem in today’s age. We all love adding items and finding new things to wear to our lists. It is part of our daily norm. But for such a life, we have learned what the cost is.
A High Price
The cost of living in a consumerist society is naturally high. Something needed to be done, as Elizabeth and Julia, and several others realized. To make things better, things have to change – or at least to begin making things better. But what could be done to invoke change was the main question? Finding a way to do things differently was the first step. That’s where it comes to this challenge. Such women have been proving a point.
Elizabeth enjoyed wearing her faithful dress as the challenge went on. Not only that – she’s been traveling all the time! In many different conditions and locations, she would have worn the dress. She was hiking, walking, and wandering around towns—all in the same dress. Through this challenge, one thing she realized? “I definitely realized I don’t need as many things as I have, or sometimes it feels like I need,” she said.
The Ultimate Comfort
It seems that Elizabeth didn’t mind every day wearing the same thing – on the contrary – she enjoyed it! “I had plenty of options for cold weather, but I’m so happy in the summer. It’s really, really comfortable.” You might be looking for a way to build a more minimal wardrobe even if you don’t want to start a challenge like this and wear the same dress for 100 days. A dress like this is, according to Elizabeth, the way to go.
A Minimal Wardrobe
“If you’re thinking about ways to build a more minimal wardrobe, the Avery Tank Dress from Wool & provides both versatility and durability across the seasons. In a time where sustainability and waste is a hot topic, the ability to get more value and use from the items you own is of the utmost importance.” Elizabeth explained on her personal blog. You also get a free dress when you participate in a challenge and a $100 voucher when you wear wool & dress for 100 days.
Maybe you’re wondering about washing. When you wear a dress for 100 days, don’t you have to wash it all the time? That turns out to be not the case. Wool is remarkably odor-resistant – the fabric from which Elizabeth’s dress was mostly made. So, the amount of washing is completely up to you to answer the question. It is according to your own preferences and needs. Here are some excellent reasons to buy a dress like Elizabeth has if you don’t already know.
Wool, as we have just stated, needs less washing. In the long run, this in itself will save you both time and money. A basic dress is one that you can wear in several different ways. You don’t need to go all-out for 100 days and wear it, but you can still make the most of it and wear it in various ways. In the future, it will save you from purchasing multiple garments. Not to mention, you may find there’s no need for more than that.