A hundred days in the same dress
Formal wear is something many have dispensed with since homeworking became the norm during the pandemic. American-born local actress Christine Probst took the next step: in March she decided to wear the same dress for a hundred days.
“I thought it would be a good idea to have a conscious look at what I wear, and was attracted by the prospect of not thinking about what to put on each day,” said Probst, inspired by a story she once read about a woman who had bought a dress from a thrift shop to then wear it for a hundred days. “I thought it would be a good idea, but never got around to trying it,” she said.
Enticed by a clever marketing ploy from a woollen dress company, she became one of a thousand women around the world attempting to wear an item of clothing for more than three months.
Community shares cleaning hacks
The company, which sells merino wool dresses, has been causing a stir on Facebook, where women have joined a group to share tips on how to accessorise the same dress for different occasions, and give cleaning hacks for emergency stain removal.
Although Probst was enticed by the company’s offer for a €100 refund upon success, there was something else that attracted her: “I’m anti-fashion, hate shopping, and find the simplest things like buying a pair of jeans stressful. Nothing fits right and I have to get things tailored, plus the whole exercise makes me look at my body critically,” she said. “Of course I could sew my own clothes, but that takes a lot of time and often ends up costing more.”
Probst has donned the same black merino wool dress without washing it once since March 11 and her challenge will finish on 19 June. She’s had to clean off muddy paw prints, and the odd food spill, but, she says, the dress doesn’t smell, although “it’s stretched a bit from its original shape”.
About 70 days into the challenge, she discovered the underarm areas of the dress were wearing thin, and when she contacted the company, they agreed to send her a new one after the 100 days were over. “I found out that deodorant can break down wool, which was news to me,” she says.
More sustainable wardrobe
Probst, who has kept a journal during the challenge, discovered several advantages. Her washing loads went down considerably without her contribution to the family laundry. Not having to think what to wear has been liberating, and no one has commented or - she suspects - even noticed that she has been wearing the same dress. Her son only realised it a week ago.
“I wear an apron as soon as I walk into the kitchen and while I am eating. The cleaning hacks on the Facebook group were a lifesaver, but I’ve avoided any out and out disasters,” she comments.
“I realised too that fashion just isn’t important to me. It’s about comfort and sustainability. I am more conscious of where my clothes come from and how they are made,” she says, adding that the clothes manufacturer behind the action is transparent on how much it pays its South Korean workforce and where it gets the special wool used in the dresses. Probst has now rethought her wardrobe, ensuring anything she no longer needs will go to a second-hand clothes shop.
She has also started to buy more responsibly. When her two-year-old trainers were starting to fall apart, she found ones that were made sustainably and likely to last longer. “I want to instil this in my family, without being too much of an evangelist. What do my kids actually need, how wedded to brands are they, can I buy things second-hand or which brands have sustainable models and treat employees fairly?” are questions Probst is asking. “I’m educating my children to take responsibility for where their clothes come from, making choices that show awareness of the global economic and environmental impact," she said, although she conceded that “it could be too much for the kids.”
The 100-day challenge has made Probst ask who she dresses for and whether she cares what people think. Although some women who’ve taken the challenge relish the idea of adding scarves, earrings, belts and multi-coloured tights, Probst prefers to keep things low key with the odd change of cardigan. It’s reshaped her mindset towards clothes and fashion.
It’s also made her more conscious of her body. “I’ve become more aware of fitness and what I eat in a way I never expected,” she says. She wondered if she could go for a hike in the dress (yes) or take the dog for a walk in the rain (yes again). “Wearing one dress has made me feel like a blank canvas. Strip away the fashion and you see the real person, there’s nowhere to hide. Fashion, it turns out, was not a way to express myself.”