The Uniform Project Challenges: Could You Work 1 Outfit for an Entire Year?


Sheena Matheiken, founder of The Uniform Project, has challenged herself to wear the same dress for 365 days as an exercise in sustainable fashion.

To prove her point, she had seven of the exact same dresses created for her (to avoid any stinkiness), that she can accessorize any way she wants – but she has to wear the same dress all year and says at her website she’d like to “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.”

So far, so intriguing.

This exercise is also a worthy fundraiser and all contributions will go toward Akanksha’s School Project to fund uniforms and other educational expenses for slum children in India, where Matheiken was raised and schooled.

Please visit Matheiken’s site to see how you can participate or donate to her cause. At the very least, how you can help the poor girl accessorize enough to put her through a full year of wearing (gulp) the same old, same old.

In the meantime, I wrangled my own posse of designers to answer the question:

In light of The Uniform Project, do you think you could design a dress that could multi-task for a woman for a whole year?

Bahar Shahpar:

I could and I would. Very excitedly so. Repurposing and reimagining beyond a normally acceptable level is right up my alley. In fact, I was just approached by a forward-thinking friend to do just that. But I wouldn’t do a dress. I’m just going to put it out there: Long Live the Onesie.


LAEKEN’s vision could absolutely be translated into developing a dress versatile enough to be worn 365 ways, as seen in the Uniform Project. We love the idea of multi-functional pieces. For example: a zipper in the back of a dress so that it may be worn tighter or looser (seen in our fall 2009 collection) or a jacket with removable sleeves so that it may also be a vest (seen in fall 2008) or the Osaka dress from spring 2009 that has two different ways that it can be worn. We would create something very unique, true to LAEKEN’s edgy spirit but simple enough to be accessorized, dressed up or dressed down, comfortable and perfect for the transition from day to night.

Alabama Chanin:

We have been striving to make multitask dresses and clothing since the beginning of the company. I love a dress that can be used as a night gown, for gardening, to go to work, dinner and a party – perhaps with a washing in between.


I believe MothLove dresses are meant to be worn under the same constructs as the Uniform Project. I had no intentions of putting boundaries around my line, as I think that can stunt its potential! What is important to me is that MothLove creates pieces intended to be worn however the wearer chooses, interpreting the “artists” creation in their own way…and even that has cause for constant “re-interpretation.” When that happens the real magic happens and a new spirit evolves…your spirit evolves.

MothLove is highly adaptable, designed in grey scale for wearability and relevance beyond a season or a trend; meant to be the favorite piece you pull out of your closet routinely.  The dresses stand alone, yet are easy to layer and accessorize, keeping the focus on conscious consumption and creativity. I really only meant to make something that allows a woman to feel natural, pure and pretty. I don’t think we allow ourselves that privilege enough. And in that, I hope the wearer can feel the love and devotion I have in making each piece.


I think designers will have to view design with more functionality instead of creativity since this one dress uniform will have to last a whole year. In general, I think this is the direction fashion is headed during these tough economic times because consumers want pieces that are classic, affordable and can be worn to various occasions. This also speaks directly to the sustainable fashion movement, which focuses on classic pieces that the customer will want to hold on to for years instead of tossing out trendy clothing each season and contributing to more waste and less sustainability.

Amy DuFault

Amy DuFault is a conscious lifestyle writer, consultant and fashion instigator. She resides in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.