I wore the same dress for 100 days. Here’s what happened.
Have you seen the ads for a brand called Wool&, who extensively advertise their wool dress 100 day challenge?
If your browser history is remotely similar to mine, you probably have. I’ve been tempted by their Rowena swing dress for years. As of right now, 2,477 people have completed the challenge. In October 2022, I decided to join their ranks.
I spent 100 days wearing the dress for no less than a few hours a day. I took pictures dutifully and posted them to a side Instagram account. Yesterday, I finally submitted the pictures in exchange for a $100 gift card towards another one of their dresses.
Here is why, and what I’ve learned along the way.
Before we even get started… yes, I washed the dress. Wool, due to odor resistance, can go longer between washes without getting stinky. Some people can go long stretches of time without washing. I averaged about once week.
Why I did it
- Weigh gain and uncertainty of how to dress — I gained 30 lbs. through 2022 after starting Lamictal and relatively stabilizing my mood swings. My up and down cycles left me with constantly fluctuating eating habits. So stabilizing my cycles, stabilized my appetite. I’m actively making peace with my body. But the weight gain left me unsure of how I wanted to dress and what would make me feel good about myself. I wanted to shop for new clothing, but felt stuck and obsessive. I needed a long pause.
- Sustainability — There is no perfect fabric. Cotton, including organic cotton, gobbles up water. Polyester never biodegrades and sheds microplastics everywhere, including our oceans. And dying fabrics pollutes water supplies. While some are concerned about the ethics of wool, I feel better about buying from a nature resource that will break down over time. It’s most important that we buy used when we can, but we can weigh the pros and cons of fabrics and choose what is most inline with out values, when second-hand isn’t an option.
- Laundry — I hate laundry. I stick to a one-day-a-week laundry schedule so I can knock it out on one focused Saturday. But I’d be lying if that proposition isn’t overwhelming between the four of us. Cutting back on my own laundry means one less load.
- Trusting myself— I don’t mean to harp on my bipolar in almost every story. But the reality is that this mental illness affects nearly every part of my life. My long history of episodes, and the overly confident poor decision making that goes along with it, have warped my ability to trust myself. I’ve bought a MacBook in a frenzied effort to write a memoir in 3 days. I’ve applied for and interviewed for Master’s programs with an unreal level of confidence, just to drop the classes on day one. I don’t trust my ability to stick with anything.
- Test my limits — I’ve been drawn to a small wardrobe since 2015. But, how small could I go? Could I be comfortable going a full season with 10 items?
What I learned
I can stick to things. This is the biggest take away. I am capable of doing hard things. I am able to push through the discomfort and stick to my word. I can’t express how healing this is for me. I need to learn to trust myself again. Stability is a pivotal part of that healing, but so is seeing myself meet my personal goals.
I have a better sense of how I like to dress. And, honestly, it isn’t shocking. As an elder-emo, I still like basics with edgy details. I like a good pair of checkered vans with a pair of joggers and a hoodie. I like a denim jacket with a dress. I like tight, high rise jeans, Birkenstocks, and a V-neck tee. I wasn’t sure if I was still that person, but I am. And those are the things that I most missed while experiencing the challenge.
I did get bored. A part of this is that I rarely felt good in my outfits. And I think that’s largely because I spent many days layering the same oversized sweatshirts and sweaters over a shapeless dress in the name of warmth. I liked the dress. I wore her with some things I liked. Such as the aforementioned denim jacket and vans. But I started to feel a bit monotonous after awhile.
I like showing off my butt. Not going to lie, I like my butt. I know I look good in a pair of moto Joni Jeans from Topshop. Not much to say here. I like my butt and it’s one part of my body that I like to highlight. No shame.
Wool is a great fabric. I loved how little laundry I did. I loved that I could spritz the dress and find the wrinkles gone briefly after. I loved the lack of smell, and how infrequently I got overheated.
I often felt disconnected from myself. This was very unexpected. I like swing dresses, but there was something about the long sleeves and slight boatneck that made me feel like I wasn’t projecting who I really am. Winter is always a bit odd, since my near-sleeve of tattoos isn’t shown. I’ll probably keep the dress for my husband’s work events, where I need to be a bit more covered.
My husband is a great supporter. Whenever I felt defeated, I’d ask him to remind me of why I’m doing the challenge. And he would happily oblige. Having someone remind me of my WHY is probably why I finished.
So I gained $100 and a better understanding of who I am, what I like, and how little variety I can handle. I’ve decided to use Stich Fix to expand my wardrobe, without the overwhelm, obsession, and paralysis I often experience when trying to shop for myself. I’m eager to add pieces that make me feel confident and, most importantly, true to myself.
As I’ve said, my increased confidence in my own decision making and perseverance are the biggest take away. I needed a win. I needed to choose to do something, and finish what I’d set out to do. I accomplished that.