Recently on Instagram I ‘met’ Jessica Bohme (@sustainabilitybooster) a capsule wardrobe enthusiast who is undertaking one of the biggest sustainable fashion challenges I’ve heard of to date: wearing the same dress for 1 year.
That’s right. One simple black v-neck dress for 365 days. She dresses it up, dresses it down but if you look closely, there it is, the LBD. Astonishing challenge!
On her website sustainability booster.com, Jessica writes: “I’ll wear one dress for a year, with only a few add-ons. It’s not about looking different with little, but it’s about looking pretty much the same every day. To leave the need to be fashionable behind.” OMG Jessica, WHHHYYYY???
The remarkability of Jessica’s challenge depends on whether you believe it to be noteworthy or just the actions of a woman who has lost her mind. Possibly because of my own embrace of zany ideas, I happen to think the former – although fashion to me is art, and I won’t give it up.
The need to express runs in our homo sapien veins. Despite our failings as a society to solve the poverty problem and other human rights issues, our creative ingenuity should be marvelled at. Removing fashion/art/design means deleting individual expression and wouldn’t that make us… robots?
Anyway, back to the Instagram ‘conversation’ with this extraordinary sustainability blogger.
Jessica explained that she’s two months into the challenge and has found it “liberating”. Interesting choice of words. Because you see, I find that really hard to believe (although I don’t have any reason to doubt that she’s telling her truth; if she wants to remove fashion’s control on her life, that’s her right to do so and as a feminist, I support her).
For me, the difficulty relates to this question:
Isn’t variety the spice of life?
Isn’t that why us women change our hairstyles so frequently? Isn’t that why yuppies choose to dine out at a different restaurant every night? Isn’t that why so many people travel the world? (And if we are to address sustainability front on, shouldn’t we really discuss our love of flying and travelling as I would argue this has a higher impact on our environment?).
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I applaud Jessica who is striving for voluntary simplicity, but to me, wearing the same dress every day is too extreme for my lifestyle. I know Steve Jobs was renowned for wearing a black turtleneck and dark denim jeans but I don’t believe he wore the exact same two items, every single day. He probably had several turtlenecks and jeans in his wardrobe so he could cut out the time wasted deciding what to wear. That’s why I have a minimalist wardrobe. Because I am busy (what entrepreneur isn’t?), and I dislike wasting time pondering what to wear as much as I dislike fashion sitting idly in my wardrobe (or rather, tall boy, Ben has yet to build me a wardrobe).
Perhaps I am merely biased. The truth is I don’t even enjoy eating leftovers the following day, much less wear the same thing for 365 consecutive days. And I attended Catholic school, forced to wear a uniform for 12 years of my life. Contrary to Jessica’s beliefs, a uniform – which is what wearing the same outfit each day is – is a sign of oppression, not liberation.
For all my faults, one of my saving graces is that I am open-minded. No one can accuse me of ignorance. So in an effort to understand Jessica’s fundamentalist commitment to minimalism I replied:
“Must make you more creative thinking of new combinations? Do you get sick of it though? It is like eating the same thing every day but with different side dishes lol?”
Jessica’s firm reply (strength of conviction, a big plus in a future friend):
“No, not at all. So far I am really happy about the simplicity it brings. This might sound strange, but I am not being creative at all with the dress. I am purposefully trying to look pretty much the same everyday to find out if it makes any difference. I was fed about with the fast fashion and I want to see what I can do about it. what I can do about it [sic]. I used to really be into fashion and I still love it and love looking at great pictures and outfits, like yours.”
While my version of voluntary simplicity is not the same as Jessica’s, the reasons for undertaking the minimalistic lifestyle is the same. It reduces clutter and environmental waste, saves money and frees up time to devote to the things that truly matter; in my case, my relationships, my writing and my businesses.
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Unlike Jessica, I don’t believe in the maximalist approach to minimalism. Here’s what voluntary simplicity looks like to me: A minimalist wardrobe in which an eco-friendly tee from Project Soco takes centre stage accompanied by an array of other wardrobe staples.
Although I wouldn’t personally take on this sustainable fashion challenge, I still think Jessica is incredible. Anyone who goes out on a limb and challenges the status quo, pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a conscious human has my vote.