The Uniform Project: One Dress, 365 Ways to Wear It

The Uniform Project photo
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How many ways can you wear a single dress? For Brooklynite Sheena Matheiken, one nondescript black frock (or rather, seven carbon copies of the same dress) provides a launching point for 365 distinct looks, one for every day of the year.

The Uniform Project, which kicked off May 1, is an online record of Matheiken's daily attempts at reinventing an unvarying silhouette—distinguished only by a solitary pintuck pleat and buttons running down the back—as an exercise in sustainable fashion. Unlike Alex Martin, whose 2005-2006 Brown Dress Project was decidedly anti-fashion, Matheiken revels in the sartorial challenge of switching up the familiar. By wearing the dress frontwards and backwards, unbuttoning it like a jacket, and layering vintage accessories (a trilby hat from eBay, patent blue Doc Martens, a purple quilted suede belt, Bakelite bangles donated by a reader), Matheiken creates ensembles that are avant garde yet accessible.

The Uniform Project isn't merely a study in narcissism, however, even though it owes kinship to the fashion "diaries" of lithe twentysomethings vamping it up for the Web; it's also a year-long fundraiser for the Akanksha Foundation's School Project, which pays for uniforms and other educational expenses for children living in India's slums.

Whether "this old thing" becomes fashion's hot new trend remains to be seen, but The Uniform Project is garnering attention from the blogosphere and Twitterverse at an almost unparalleled frenzy. Matheike's endeavor outlines a conversation we need to continue having about fast versus slow fashion, even if we must, to keep the dialogue fresh, dress it up from time to time.

The Uniform Project photo
The Uniform Project photo