One Dress Protest is me, Kristy Powell, wearing one dress for one year in order to protest the ideas and motivations behind how and why I wear my clothes. Over the year I aim to challenge the ways identity is constructed through clothing, what sustainability means for consumption, how our perception of others is so often based on external presentation, and what “fashion” ultimately means for me going forward.



Jan 21 11
{day 19}

This Week in the Dress and on the Web

This Week… in the Dress:

So here’s the deal. You may have already read elsewhere (in the comments here in the blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc) that I have two of the exact same dress. This is no secret. I’ve had no intention of hiding it. ODP is, first and foremost, an attempt to fast from fashion. The same dresses incite the same fashion statements, and by wearing either of them I am still forced to express myself without using my clothes to do so. And ultimately, I am not espousing some extreme minimalist ethic where I’ve dared myself to wear one single dress for the longevity of one year. This is a protest, the primary goal is not a minamilast-ish personal challenge.

I’ll explain lots more about the dress next week in a blog post. But for now, here’s a few details from my relatively different week.

So I wore dress #1 until it needed to be washed. Shocking perhaps, but I’ve washed my ONE dress ONE time thus far. Dress #2, conversely, has been with a taylor who was lengthening it. For my personal preference, the dress I’ve chosen to wear this year is way too short for me. I’m tall. I can’t bend over in it. Hence the pants in the pictures for the first three weeks.

Last week when I washed dress #1 and put it in the dryer for less than five minutes and let it hang-dry that night, it shrunk. It shrunk ALOT — 3.5 inches in length to be exact. It was noticeably smaller, resembling more of a long shirt than a dress (as you may have picked up on in pictures from last week).

After this happened, I panicked. SERIOUSLY. I immediately began thinking of how different caring for your clothes becomes when you’re wearing ONE item for a year (i.e. you can’t allow them to change sizes on you). Because dress #2 was still at the taylor, I continued to wear shirt-dress #1 with pants, which I of course had already been doing since it was already too short for my liking in the first place.

Well, I got dress #2 back on Wednesday and… we’ll talk about that later. For now, here is dress #1… shrunk, as it is, in Las Vegas for Day 14:

Day 16: At the Hoover Dam… I loved not being bundled up for a change. Just me, my dress, and a pair of pants (well… and sunglasses):

Day 18: Back to the cold, and back to work. And back to eagerly anticipating picking up my longer, un-shrunk dress!

Day 18: And here you have it. Dress #2:

This was obviously the first day I had worn dress #2. It did feel strange to put on a second article… even though it was the same thing.

From the outset of ODP, I’ve felt like it was necessary to have two dresses, but now I’m beginning to wonder if that’s actually true. To be honest, I feel like the second longer dress looks silly and hodge-podge. The original design was obviously cut to be short and cute; the extra piece of fabric at the bottom clearly does not belong. Because the camera-phone picture above doesn’t necessarily do justice to dress #2′s frumpiness, here is a clearer shot from the same day:

Honestly, day 18 was the first day I truly felt like I was fasting from fashion. Remember how I wrote how I initially felt more fashionable in my protest garb? No more. I felt drab. I felt dull. I felt thoroughly unfashionable.

I’ll also say this: I felt a little discouraged. Day 18 was a bit deflating.

So… I’m still processing this. I intend to share more about it in the near future. I will say that immediately upon dressing myself in dress #2 and looking in the mirror, I felt I had gone from being the spirited, young, and lively nun in Sister Act (on the right), to being one of the old, crotchety sisters (…dressed like Whoopie).

Which really begs to question who decides when nuns get to go from looking cute and relatively fun (…for nuns) to going full-out in their nun garb? The world outside the convent may never know.

And maybe more importantly, why do I think of my clothing in reference to Sister Act movies?

Anyway… this week… on the Web:

Let Love — by Katie Tallo of Momentum Gathering — Katie shares her personal narrative of not having had enough of “it” as an adolescent, which lead to self-consciousness and–eventually–vulnerability, courage, and love. I so appreciate her perspective and growth. And she shares a video at the end that I watched and would encourage you to do so too if you can make the time. I was in tears by the end… really profound stuff.

The Tripple-Win of Simple Living — by Bill Gerlach of The New Pursuit, and hosted over at Rowdy Kittens — Bill highlights redefining the family experience, reconnecting with community and sowing seeds of stewardship as the “wins” of living simply. I was thrilled to come across someone highlighting the concept of stewardship, a key piece to my own protest.

What Joshua Becker learned from 33 articles of clothing — by Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist, and hosted over at Organizing Your Way — Joshua participated in the first 3 months of Project 333 and shares what he learned from the challenge, highlighting the role of boundaries in a limited wardrobe.

Honoring the Spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Through Action — by Annie Leonard of The Story of Stuff Project — A great post asking for your action on behalf of Martin Luther King, Jr. If you are familiar with the Story of Stuff Project, you know the kind of work Annie does is really great. If you’re not familiar with it, go no further than here.

I’m glad to be home for the weekend, the true introvert that I am. Wherever you are, peace to you.

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20 Comments
  1. Call me a weirdo, but I think Dress #2 actually is really cute and classy. Especially how you paired it with tights and shoes. And dress #1 is adorable in it’s shortness. You manage to look cute with only two identical items of clothing!

    • Haha. You would, Lara ;) . And I’ll be wearing it with tights all winter. IT IS COLD here in New Haven, like single digits cold.

  2. Thanks for the link love and the beautiful comment you left on my blog, Kristy. I’m off to explore your narrative further. xo

  3. Kristy,

    Many thanks for including a link to that post. I’m so glad you were able to take something away from it. Stewardship is something that we can’t lose sight of practicing openly and often in our world. I am moved by your conviction and dedication! Keep it up!

    • Thanks, Bill. My convictions are only deepening as a result of my protest, so I anticipate my dedication will follow suit. At least I hope so.

  4. The second I saw the dress I was like, “wow, that seems churchy,” then I saw the pictures of the sister act.

    • Glad I could make it clear with the Sister Act photo. I suppose a “wow, churchy” dress should certainly be considered “fasting from fashion.” Ha.

  5. I like sexy dresses. I just can’t help myself. I even wore a dress for Halloween. Had a lot of ladies slapping me on the bum.

    Now, I’m not saying I like to wear dresses, but the point is that I think the goal should be to show off. If not, why not just wear a white Ghandi robe and call it a day? :)

  6. Kate permalink

    Hi Kristy, it’s Kate from East Hartford. I’m enjoying following your blog, and was just thinking of you when I read one of the last chapters in the Kathleen Norris book _Cloister Walk_ in which she reflects on the meaning of the nun habit. It might be work reading.
    Carry on!

    • Hey Kate! I’ll absolutely add that to my list of upcoming reads. Thank you so much for thinking of me and sharing!

  7. Comparing your dress to “nun fashions”- that made me laugh.

    Sounds like day 18 was one of those days that people have where they feel down and disheartened. I guess for some people those are the days that they look to some sort of “retail therapy” and buy something to make themselves feel better.

    It is those times and those feelings that the media/ advertising cunningly target to make us feel like the only way we can feel better about ourselves is to buy some material possession or treat ourselves in some (money spending) way.

    We need to remember that who we are, and our purposes in life, matter much more than fashion, wealth and personal possessions.

    Good to make a stand in life- after all, if you can accomplish the seemingly impossible, then it gives others the confidence to say “I can do that do”

    • Good word, David. It is these times when we need to be reminded that it is who we are and our purpose in life that matter more than all the “other.”

  8. Is this inspired by theuniformproject?

    I’d love to keep in touch w/you… I teach a high school fashion class and we are going to delve into the uniformproject this spring:)…

    • My project was certainly encouraged by The Uniform Project. If you notice, I’m wearing the original LBD that Sheena of the UP wore. I’m thrilled to be connected to their mission in this way.

      I’d love to keep in touch with you! Please email me if you have any thoughts or questions or anything really that I could potentially contribute or help with.

  9. Jessica permalink

    I think the difference between the young nun and the other nun is that the young nun was a novice. I’m not the best when it comes to Catholic practices, but, I think that means that she’s at the point where she’s committed to trying being a nun out for a while but has not taken the life long vows yet. You don’t get the full habit while you’re still a novice.

    • You’re mostly right, Jessica. The young nun is a postulant…she’s trying out the life and hasn’t taken her first temporary vows yet. The nuns in the movie are Benedictines; when they take temporary vows, they get the full habit. Most nuns usually have one or two changes, so that wash can be done. :) Usually, the change in habit was determined by the founder/foundress of the order, or by long-standing custom. Inside the monastery, it’s easier to tell who is who based on their habit.

      • Thanks Emily and Jessica for chiming in on the nun habit. That’s so interesting that one first “tries” being a nun. Like a really serious inquirers phase? I definitely want to read more about the nun habit – the whys, hows, reflections, etc.

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