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August 27, 2009

Same Dress, Different Day: The Uniform Project reinvents sustainable style for a good cause.

The Little Black Dress — a staple in the wardrobes of many a female. But could you rock the LBD for 365 days in a row? Creative, eco-happy Brooklynite Sheena Matheikin decided to give it a try in an impressive display of sustainable style meets wearable art.

From The Uniform Project website:

I have pledged to wear one dress for one year as an exercise in sustainable fashion. Here’s how it works: There are 7 identical dresses, one for each day of the week. Every day I will reinvent the dress with layers, accessories and all kinds of accoutrements, the majority of which will be vintage, hand-made, or hand-me-down goodies. Think of it as wearing a daily uniform with enough creative license to make it look like I just crawled out of the Marquis de Sade’s boudoir.

Kicked off in May of ’09, The Uniform Project is dedicating all proceeds to the Akanksha Foundation, a nonprofit focused on providing educational opportunities to children in India.

The Uniform Project is also a year-long fundraiser for the Akanksha Foundation, a grassroots movement that is revolutionizing education in India. At the end of the year, all contributions will go toward Akanksha’s School Project to fund uniforms and other educational expenses for children living in Indian slums.

Sheena’s brave undertaking is the epitome of reuse and gives us a new take on our sometimes seemingly boring or outdated wardrobe. OK, so it’s not actually the same dress:

There are 7 identical dresses, one for each day of the week. Every day I will reinvent the dress with layers, accessories and all kinds of accoutrements, the majority of which will be vintage, hand-made, or hand-me-down goodies. Think of it as wearing a daily uniform with enough creative license to make it look like I just crawled out of the Marquis de Sade’s boudoir.

Sheena grew up in the “imposed conformity” of the Indian school system. Oh the irony!

I was raised and schooled in India where uniforms were a mandate in most public schools. Despite the imposed conformity, kids always found a way to bend the rules and flaunt a little personality. Boys rolled up their sleeves, wore over-sized swatches, and hiked up their pants to show off their high-tops. Girls obsessed over bangles, bindis and bad hairdos. Peaking through the sea of uniforms were the idiosyncrasies of teen style and individual flare. I now want to put the same rules to test again, only this time I’m trading in the catholic school fervor for an eBay addiction and relocating the school walls to this wonderful place called the internet.

To create fresh ensembles using the LBD as the foundational piece, Sheena used vintage, consignment, homemade or donated accessories as “trimming,”  along with style strategies like layering and themes (think rain slicker and boots or Jungle Jane).

You can view each day’s ensemble, donate accessories, or donate funds to the cause at www.theuniformproject.com.Or, vote for The Uniform Project at Nau Grant for Change, a nonprofit grant competition. And next time you’re craving a fashion makeover, Sheena might appreciate it if you keep her innovative endeavor in mind.

~by Lindsey Kesel

All photos courtesy of www.theuniformproject.com

Bonus:

If wearing the same outfit three — okay, five — days in a row is wrong, we dont want to be right.

But 365 days in a row? There isnt a European shower strong enough for that.

Fortunately, Sheena Matheiken, the genius behind The Uniform Project, has seven copies of the cotton black dress shes wearing every single day for a year — all in an effort to raise money for Indian school children living in slums.

We recently caught up with her to find out what its like slipping into the same thing every day, how she lands her amazing accessories, and if things ever get, um, smelly (turns out they dont).

Matheiken left us feeling pretty inspired, and we hope youll feel the same after watching the video.

Over and over and over again.

For more information or to make a donation, go to theuniformproject.com.

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