News Treehugger Voices This Dress Can Be Worn for 100 Days Straight Over 1,100 women have already completed Wool&'s minimalist fashion challenge. By Katherine Martinko Katherine Martinko Twitter Senior Editor University of Toronto Katherine Martinko is an expert in sustainable living. She holds a degree in English Literature and History from the University of Toronto. Learn about our editorial process Fact checked by Haley Mast Fact checked by Haley Mast on May 13, 2021 LinkedIn Harvard University Extension School Haley Mast is a writer, fact checker, and conservationist with a certification in sustainability. Learn about our fact checking process on May 13, 2021 03:54PM EDT Rowena (L) and Willow (R) dresses. Wool& Share Twitter Pinterest Email News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices When you buy a simple wool dress from an American company called Wool&, it comes with an intriguing invitation—to join a group of women wearing their wool dresses for 100 days straight. Why, you might wonder? Because it's easy, comfortable, natural, stress-free. More than a thousand women have completed the challenge to date and many more have placed orders for Wool& dresses in recent weeks. There's something magnetic about it that draws people in. Curious as always, Treehugger reached out to learn more, and the company's customer experience manager Rebecca Eby sat down for a Zoom chat to explain what's going on behind this flurry of interest in wool dresses. "I started as a participant and now I'm an employee," she laughed, explaining that halfway through her own 100-day dress challenge, she saw a job posting on Wool&'s site and applied because she liked the company so much. The idea for a challenge started with Wool&'s founder wearing a merino wool shirt for 30 days with great success. Once the dress line launched, a similar challenge was issued to 13 women to wear it for 100 days. "It just snowballed," says Eby. "It gained momentum and then the pandemic hit and it exploded. In a good way. The very best way. That is how it all started." Eby said the brand is only three years old and the challenge has been ongoing for roughly two of those years, with 1,173 official participants so far. I was surprised to learn that so many women would willingly wear the same thing day after day, especially during the lockdown. Surely they'd want to pursue novelty in small ways, like how they dress, when everything else feels the same? Eby disagreed, pointing out that the challenge gave many women peace of mind and a goal. "People had to be home and there wasn't a lot to be excited about," she said. "This was something to do safely from home at a time when there was so much else going on in the world." The simplicity of it also fits in well with the decluttering and minimizing that people were doing. "Purging clothes was a big theme, and this dress challenge went right along with it," she says. "Something about that clicked and everything just fell into place." Wearing the same dress doesn't have to be monotonous. Wool& When I commented that 100 days seems like an awfully long time, Eby nodded sympathetically but pointed out the quality of the dress makes it feel shorter. She herself did a 30-day dress challenge before discovering Wool&, wearing a new polyester dress that she found at a thrift store. By the end, she said it looked rough: "It was pilling. I had to wash it every week because it stank. But when I got this wool dress and did the 100 days, I found it so much easier because I was in the right fabric, wearing the right piece of clothing. It was a totally different experience." She says her whole relationship to clothes has shifted: "I don't want to wear anything besides wool!" One revelation was how amazing wool is, that it can be worn and reworn without stinking. "These aren't like the sweaters we wore as kids that were big and bulky and a little itchy," she says. The challenge helped Eby to realize that she doesn't need as many clothes as she thought, can rely on a capsule wardrobe, and should be more critical about making new purchases. We couldn't talk about the challenge without discussing the Facebook support group that, in some ways, has become the main attraction for many participants. Eby beamed when I brought it up, describing it as supportive and kind, a place where anyone who's doing the challenge, considering it, or is simply curious can come and find support. "People post everything—pictures of styling the dress, personal stories that are resonating, advice for helping each other through. If you're doing a 100-day challenge for anything, at some point you are going to slump. 'I'm on day 62 and I just don't want to put this dress on for another day,' for example, and the community will help you figure out the next step that's right for you." A peek into the Facebook group confirmed what Eby said. It does have an upbeat vibe, with one ambitious participant saying she's considering continuing past the 100-day mark to complete a full year challenge. A woman asked for advice on moving to an all-black wardrobe, and within minutes over 60 people had answered, "Go for it!" Someone asked for advice on styling; another shared stain-fighting tips. When it comes to the technicalities of the 100-day challenge, it's not complicated. You're expected to wear the dress for eight hours a day or so, but you can take it off to wear other things if you must. "What about gym clothes?" I asked Eby, who told me that, yes, it's fine to change into workout gear, but that many people are pleasantly surprised to discover how active they can be in their wool dresses. "They tend to change less than expected." She pointed out that merino wool is now being used by many activewear brands. Washing is up to each participant. Some people go the whole time without washing the dress, others do it twice, some every few days. "Many people find they really don't stink, so they may just spot-clean it. But," Eby added, "others have toddlers, chickens, and pigs, so they do have to wash it more!" An important thing to remember: "It's not supposed to be a lesson in hardship so much as a challenge for your daily wear." There is value in that, and I suspect that the challenge aspect eventually morphs into a sense of liberation. Not having to pick a new or 'cute' outfit each morning eliminates decision fatigue, which is precisely why so many corporate executives establish a daily uniform. The dress styles are basic, with natural-sounding names like Sierra, Willow, Rowena. They're meant to be "blank canvases," either worn as is or layered with belts, jewelry, or other accessories. They're made from Australian wool in South Korea, in factories with high labor standards that Wool& has inspected personally. For any potential customers concerned about low stock notifications on the site, Eby says that orders are constantly coming in. There's been such a surge of interest that it has had to readjust the quantities it purchases. And if you're a dress skeptic (as I am, thinking of them only as a fancy-occasion outfit), Eby is confident that the challenge will convert anyone. "It's so easy and comfortable—a lot of people in the group are saying they never want to wear pants again." If your curiosity has been piqued, you can learn more about the challenge here.