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Fashion Episode

Little Brown Dress

One year. One Dress. Lot of surprises.

Izz

We're interviewing Alex Martin. She's a dancer and writer and artist in Seattle. She created the Little Brown Dress project.

Dex

What is the Little Brown Dress project?

Brown dress Alex Martin

The Little Brown Dress project was an experiment that I performed. I wore the same brown dress every day for 365 days. I designed and made the dress. I wore it everywhere I went for one year.

Izz

Why did you do it?

Alex Martin

I started the project as a personal challenge to myself, to find out if I could be an interesting, fabulous, sparkling person without relying on my clothes to sparkle for me. As the project went on, I learned a lot about sustainability, and all the ways that what we choose to buy (or not to buy) in the U.S. can make a big difference to people and to the environment all around the world.

Dex

I like the to wear the same t-shirt every day but it drives my mom mad. Any suggestions for how I can convince her it's okay?

Alex Martin

In the entire year, only ONE PERSON noticed that I was wearing the same dress every day (this is completely true)!

Dex

No way!

Alex Martin

I was amazed, considering how important clothing is supposed to be. So, I encourage you to just start your project tomorrow, whether it is the same T-shirt every day, or trying to wear only things that have been made in your home town. Or maybe it's a pledge to not buy anything new for one month. As long as you don't smell bad, it might take a really long time for anyone to notice — especially your mom, as busy as she is.

Izz

What was the hardest part of the project?

My brown dress was short, and I got really cold in the fall — when the weather turned frosty. This was before I figured out exactly what to layer with my dress to stay warm.

Dex

Was this a way to save on laundry? I'd wash my t-shirt once a year if I could.

Alex Martin

I washed my dress about once every 2 or 3 wearings, and more often in the summertime when I was gardening a lot, so I admit I am pro-laundry (as long as we all use a non-petroleum-based detergent). Also I had to replace a lot of buttons! Most of my life I have treated my clothes like they were disposable, and I learned how to take much better care of my dress to make it last a whole year.

Dex

Does it only work for little brown dresses? Perhaps you'll do little-plaid-golfing-pants.com next? Or maybe little-yellow-chicken-suit.com?

Alex Martin

The Brown Dress project ended, and I am in a 100% "closed-loop recycling" project. That means I am using only the items already in my wardrobe, and re-vamping them into new things to wear. So it is a small wardrobe, and at this point I haven't brought anything fresh into my loop for almost two years.

Izz

What else do you think kids should know about clothes and fashion?

Alex Martin

Don't let the corporate marketers teach you that the best way for you to "express yourself" is by looking a certain way — if the clothing is manufactured, shipped, and sold in ways that are against what you believe, it is just not worth it. Inventing your own style, and your own way of dressing, is so much more interesting!

Take Action!

Choose a favorite piece of clothing and think of different ways to wear it. Can you accessorize it to make it seem like new? How many times can you wear it before someone notices?

Little Brown Dress — Recycling Project