Her students were not the only ones beginning to notice. She would hear whispers in the hallways and during classes. Wherever she went, she felt as if she was being eyeballed. “Is she still wearing that dress?” She had heard about 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?
You have to show up wearing proper clothes in school as a teacher. Some schools have uniforms for teachers, but some do not. And that means that teachers should prepare various outfits in advance every day. Julia was a teacher for a while and always made her dress nicely and accessorized. As an art teacher, she loved colorful clothes and interesting outfits. But her school outfit was quite bizarre for the first day…
Planning Her Outfit
At Moorestown, New Jersey’s William Allen Middle School, Julia Mooney, 34, had just accepted a new position as an art teacher and planned to dress for the occasion. But this dress would soon spark such controversy that her story caused a stir worldwide. What might be wrong with an outfit? When she bought that dress, Julia had no idea just how much she would impress everyone!
With the new job came a lot of excitement, but her night-before jitters were worse than usual. With the all-new students and colleagues, she knew all the eyes would be on her. What she didn’t know was that her dress would be talked about by the school. They all gossiped about it, and before Julia finally spoke about it, she could do nothing but accept her fate…
Finding The Dress
Julia saw the dress online and knew it was necessary for her to have it. Nobody expected to see her wear this dress on the first day of school, however. Soon enough, this new art teacher was going to 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 trips, they went to an alpaca farm and she was given some wool. She also educates her kids to do gardening and other skills that are going to 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 was going to be so 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.” But things were about to get different!
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 nearly a disaster!
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
Even when embarrassed, she tried to remain 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
That 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
Even though others weren’t receptive for the first few days, everyone recognized it soon enough. Was there something wrong with the art teacher? Nobody could understand why her outfit wasn’t changed by the new instructor. One of the students noticed that her boots had been changed and she added a scarf.
She Wore It Everywhere
At 13, girls are increasingly aware of their appearance and the clothing they wear, coveting trendy pieces and designer labels. 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 not only wore that dress at school, but also 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 a lot of 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 became the topic of the William Allen Middle School talk. She wore her gray dress every day of the week, and people couldn’t turn their attention away from it. Speculation began to fly. Some of the teachers were concerned. Has Mrs. Mooney been confronted with difficulties? Students, too, began to wonder. But, as everyone who attended high school knows, teenagers could be ruthless.
The Elephant In The Room
As she avoided the elephant in the room, Julia continued teaching. She knew the snickers and whispers in the halls and the playground. And her colleagues had begun to view her differently and treated her as if she was frail but refused to question her explicitly on her wardrobe. But she knew she had to ride out. She was ready to stay in the race. So the best way she knew was to put her head down.
Following The Rules
As you can all imagine, the comments around her were whether Julia was not a bit too strange to be a teacher and was her behavior affecting the children? The principal even spoke with some of the parents, suggesting a conference. Was Julia going to be fired for wearing the same dress each day? However, she didn’t even break any rules.
Was She Struggling?
Did the new teacher struggle with money? 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. Or so they thought!
Others Were Bothered By It
Some individuals were just driven nuts by her never-changing dress. Others felt it was repugnant to Julia’s lifestyle. Among the numerous opinions, most assumed 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 end of Julia’s third week, people could no longer contain their excitement. She could see the problem on all their faces. And she knew the time had come to address it. But what was the story of that gray 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’m walking 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
Her Instagram page featured a 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 anyone do something as boring as that? Well, she’s got four great 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 is an active slow-fashion supporter. 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.
Many companies unethically hire underage workers in their factories, since large quantities of clothing are manufactured abroad, to meet the growing demand for cheaper products. Worse still, there are no regulations in place to protect these children. By buying fewer clothing, Julia helps to reduce the desire for cheaper work. While Julia’s decision is the main reason, it is not the only one.
Julia is eager to be a conscious customer, and she is also fighting the fashion industry’s environmental effects. With the consumption of clothing at an all-time global high, it is no wonder that unsustainable environmental policies are depleting the earth’s valuable resources. Julia avoided contributing to her carbon footprint by choosing a fair-trade hemp dress from a London-based clothing company named ‘Thought.’ So how have people responded to Julia’s project?
The most common reaction she has received is disgust. Some individuals just believe that it is not hygienic to wear the same clothing item every day. And the food for thought is her reply. Julia replied to them by saying, “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 hemp is the “ultimate rockstar fiber” and that all dresses need “deep pockets”
Everyone was challenged by Julia when she said, “The challenge I’m presenting is this: Let’s think before we buy, wear, discard, and buy again. Can we buy used clothes? 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 said, “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 to change every day. It’s weird, but because it’s weird, it’s making us all think.” What do you think about Julia’s cause? Could you take the challenge and wear for 100 days the same outfit?
Elizabeth McCarthy took this challenge on as well, only somewhat differently. Instead of wearing the same dress for 100 consecutive days, she appeared in a detailed video interview. There, she explained just how she did so and how others can do the same should they want to. Just like Julia, Elizabeth was keen on becoming more mindful of what she wore and just how often she wore it. It was all about being better for the environment.
Instead of buying new clothing, she wanted to get the most she could from one single garment she already had in her closet: one dress. She challenged herself to wear this dress for 100 days in a row. When she started the challenge, she carefully thought about which dress to use. It needed to be versatile enough to work for this experiment. The fabric of the dress was crucial for the challenge’s success. How did she do it?
To start out, Elizabeth chose a simple tank dress that she bought from a brand named Wool&. This dress was able to be worn in many different ways: as a V-neck, with a belt, as a crew neck, and more. The fabric dried quickly, so when she’d wash it, it would be ready to wear the very next morning. It was made of 49% ultrasoft merino wool, 33% Tencel™ lyocell, and 18% nylon. Due to this special blend, it’s a good choice for any season.
This dress will be great to wear in the summer, and in the winter, it can be worn layered with other garments easily. The best part is that it’s very durable, of course. After Elizabeth wore the dress for the duration of the challenge, it was still as good as new! The project initially began when the company Wool& started an initiative with a campaign of theirs, challenging women to wear one dress for 100 days in a row. To take part in the challenge, all you had to do was say so. The brand would then send over a dress to the first 50 volunteers.
Amazingly, the challenge went on smoothly. Elizabeth was among those who participated in this incredible challenge. The sole purpose of the challenge was to encourage these women to consume less and to be content with what they already own. Like Julia stated earlier, nowadays, consumerism is a big problem. Everyone loves adding new items to their lists and finding new clothes to wear. It’s part of today’s norm. However, we’ve learned what the cost is for that lifestyle.
A High Price
It makes sense that the price of living in a consumerist society is a very high one. As Elizabeth, Julia, and many others realized, something has to be done on the matter. Things need to change for things to get better. Or rather, to start improving. The main question is what could be done to create change? The first thing to do is to find a different way of doing things. That’s what this challenge was about. These women wanted to prove a point to everyone else.
As the challenge progressed, Elizabeth enjoyed wearing her dress. Aside from that, she was traveling the whole time she did! She’d been wearing the same dress in all kinds of conditions and locations. From hiking to walking and roaming cities. All in the same dress. There was one thing she realized through this challenge: “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 looks like Elizabeth didn’t mind wearing the same dress every day. Quite the contrary, in fact. She loved it! “I had plenty of options for cold weather, but I’m so happy in the summer. It’s really, really comfortable.” If you aren’t one who wants to start a challenge like this and wear the same dress for 100 days, you might be on the lookout for building a more minimal wardrobe. According to Elizabeth, this dress was just the thing for it.
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. On top of receiving a free dress when participating in the challenge, when you wear a Wool& dress for 100 consecutive days, you get a $100 voucher to buy your next dress from them!
If you’re like us, you’re probably wondering about washing the dress. When wearing the same dress 100 days in a row, don’t you need to wash it constantly? It turns out that, no, you don’t need to. Since Elizabeth’s dress is mostly made of real wool, it’s remarkably odor-resistant. To answer the question, the amount of washing is up to the wearer and depends on their own needs and preferences. If you don’t already know, here are great reasons to buy a dress like Elizabeth’s.
Wool needs to be washed less, as we’ve said. This in itself will save you a lot of time and money in the long run. Buying a good basic dress means you’ll have many different ways to wear it. You don’t have to go to the extreme and wear it for 100 days if that’s not your thing, but you can make the most of it by wearing it in various ways. This will save you from buying multiple garments down the line. Not to mention, you’ll find that you don’t need more.
The whole purpose behind this challenge is to discourage women from buying more than they actually need. In addition to saving you money, it’ll allow you to figure out your personal style and make the most of it without having to buy an excessive amount of clothes. At the end of the day, you’ll be saving more money to spend on other things you might want, like traveling or making others happy.
Consuming less, as a rule, will reduce your impact on the environment and have a positive impact on the earth. Soon enough, you’ll realize that you don’t need a closet filled with clothing that you hardly ever wear. Instead, you’ll have several items that you love and will wear more often. Of course, mixing and matching is the best way to allow some creativity to flow. Over time, it will become easier for you to consume less and make more use of the items you already have.
What Others Think
If you’re worried about what others might think or say if they see you wearing the same dress for a prolonged period of time, doing this challenge might make you think differently by the end of it. A lot of women who’ve done it have said they were surprised to find out that hardly anyone even noticed they wore the same thing every day! If anything, this challenge might help you realize your clothing is not what defines you.
Whatever you’re wearing should not be what defines you as a person. What truly matters is what you choose to do with your time and your life. How you treat others matters, not what you happen to be wearing. Clothing doesn’t define you as a human being. Several participants in this challenge noticed a few good effects it had on them. Each person began the challenge for different reasons. One woman named Ginny did it out of a need for simplicity.
She wanted to simplify her wardrobe most when traveling internationally. On the other hand, a woman named Nancy was already accustomed to having fewer items that served her for extended periods of time. She once owned a Burberry coat that she kept for 20 years – and it never went out of style. For others, it was their first time taking part in a challenge like this. When asked about what they’ve noticed during the challenge, two women said people never noticed when they wore the same thing every day.