Note: This is a guest post written by Natalee Hill, Associate for Communications and Administration at the Episcopal Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in Philadelphia, and Coordinator of Children’s Ministries at Trinity Church in Swarthmore, PA.
The Modified Experiment: 3 Dresses, 100 Days
Early in January, I checked my Facebook feed and saw Becca (The Christian Minimalist) post something on the Christian Minimalism blog about wearing the same single dress for 100 days. My first thought was: “That’s nuts! How do you do that? Won’t it get boring, or gross?”
I read her whole post and realized there might be more to it than first impressions. I doubted my own ability to keep up with such a challenge, but she said something to another commenter on her social media post that caught me: “You could always modify to make it work for you (maybe 3-6 outfits?)– minimalism experiments aren’t supposed to be impossible, just experimenting with less for a short amount of time.“
I’d been following Becca’s Christian Minimalism blog and lifestyle for some time, because it appeals to me in many ways. For one, clutter triggers anxiety in me about all the things that need to get done. For another, I really care about the future of our planet’s ecosystem. The permission to try this experiment my own way made me jump at it. I decided I would use three dresses and start immediately. It must have been my enthusiastic week. I have one of those every month; do you?
Thoughts About the Experiment, Two-Thirds of the Way Through
I’m now 60+ days into this experiment, and I have to say what I’m missing the most are pockets (Becca’s dress for her 100 Days does have pockets). When you venture into a project like this, I most definitely suggest you think it through before you get started.
The other thing that I’m realizing this far into the project is that color is not actually an advantage here. I’m finding myself having a really hard time mixing these dresses up enough. I have one that is wine-colored. One is gray with chevrons of a color that can’t quite decide if it’s beige, peach, or pink. The third dress is my favorite shade of teal with a little bit of light blue and pink thrown in. These are generally not good dresses for mixing and matching.
As someone who adores color and can’t stand the thought of a grayscale wardrobe, I was shook by the desire for a plain black dress. Correction: a plain black dress *with pockets*.
When I was 20 days in, not even my husband had mentioned that I was repeating my clothing. Of course, it turned out that he saw me comment to Becca about it on Facebook and just didn’t bother to bring it up. So, he DID know all along, but didn’t feel the need to mention it. My two kids haven’t mentioned it. None of my coworkers have mentioned it.
What am I learning? People mostly don’t notice or won’t mention repeat outfits. As someone who tends to notice clothing, it was a little surprising. Considering I’m barely going anywhere or seeing anyone, it was a little expected. But the fact that no one has mentioned it makes me realize that people do not notice clothing as much as I thought they did.
Where is God in this?
Right now, I’m not sure yet where God is in this. I know what I had hoped for has happened: a sense of freedom, a lightening of the mental load of daily choices, a separation from both my vanity and my body issues.
Early on, I found freedom in wearing dresses. I’ve been at war with my pants and jeans for several months now and I know from experience that a pandemic is not an easy time to go trying lots of things on for a good fit.
The dresses fit and move with me. With leggings on I don’t worry about getting on the floor with my boys. So I wrote a poem (see end of post). I have found some peace with my physical body.
I do wonder if by not doing just one dress– and giving myself three to work with– I gave myself an out on some spiritual growth as well. (Full disclosure: I have had a couple of days where all the dresses were in the laundry and I wore a fourth dress, or Saturdays in pajamas.) Maybe it needed to be a bigger sacrifice. I’m not sure yet.
Maybe I won’t understand where God was in it until later, when it is all over and I look back. For now, since God called me into this minimalism experiment, I’ll keep going. I want to see where it leads, and what God could be doing through it.
[Jesus] said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing”Luke 12: 22-23
The Dress (A Poem)
I have a dress
That sets me free
It doesn’t tell me
who to be
Its sleeves are long
It keeps me warm
It isn’t too tight
Around my arms
It’s light, it moves
It lets me move, too
If I’m typing or dancing
Or helping with school
Put on some jewelry
And wear it to work
Put on some sneakers
And take a long walk
The dress keeps me covered
That is its job
The dress is simple and neat
Without looking a slob
I love its wine color
I love its soft knit
But mostly I love
I forget how it fits
I have a dress
That sets me free
It doesn’t tell me
How to be.
By Natalee Hill. January 4, 2021.
In honor of Becca Ehrlich’s 100-day dress, and my own favorite.