Why I’m wearing the same dress for 100 days even if I am worried about how I’ll look (and smell)

Slipping on a little black dress for a lockdown-delayed birthday should be no big deal, but I won’t just be wearing this outfit for a night out or even a weekend away. Ellie, the black wraparound frock, will be my constant companion for the next 100 days, come what may.

One woman, one dress, 100 wears in a row: the challenge was launched by US clothing company Wool & to encourage its customers to live simply and consume carefully (but also, you know, to buy its product).

More than 3,000 women worldwide have already completed the 100-day challenge to receive a $ 100 (£ 76) voucher towards another dress, and many of them claim that it has changed their thinking about what they wear, how they shop for clothes and even how often each item in their wardrobe needs washing.

There is a Facebook support page where tips and tricks are exchanged, and many who have accepted the challenge share their progress on Instagram – # 100daydresschallenge has 136,080 posts and counting. “It’s reduced stress in my morning routine and eased decision fatigue,” explains one of the 100-day club.

One of Wool & ‘s dresses: the company says natural fibers mean it needs minimal washing (Photo: Christopher J Scott)

Having taken up the Merino-wool mantle, I’m intrigued to see whether people even notice that I’m in the same attire day after day.

But first, I spend weeks agonising over which dress to order. Many of the styles are out of stock on the European website. Despite looking at the measurements of the garments and trying to work out which will fit, in the end there’s only one color in my size in the style that I like.

I don’t think I’ve ever spent so much time choosing clothes – even my bridal gown took less thought than this.

So far, the challenge is not simplifying my life. And the price tag – £ 141, although there are some styles that cost £ 120 – is more than I’d happily spend on one item of clothing, although it will work out as £ 1.40 a wear.

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My 40th was spent in lockdown and I was hoping for a big family get-together or a trip of a lifetime this year to make up for it, but with all that’s going on in the world, I think those things will have to wait a while yet. Treating myself to some expensive togs instead seems like a novel, grown-up thing to do.

Opening the Wool & box on the morning of my 41st birthday feels a bit like a long-awaited blind date. I’m surprised by how thin the material is, but I like how the dress feels and looks when I put it on and I’m relieved that it’s a perfect fit. I can’t say that about most of my clobber, as I usually make do with whatever I can find at the charity shop.

I’m interested in the claims that natural fibers regulate body temperature and don’t hold odors, so the garment can be aired between wears rather needing much washing.

Wool & recommends hanging my dress in a well-ventilated area when not in use, and that if I notice any areas starting to smell, I should wet with warm water and hang to dry overnight. In a year when energy bills look set to soar, could this be a way of cutting back on the number of laundry loads?

In the first week of wear, Ellie goes out for lunch, enjoys a spa and dinner, takes a willow weaving class in the woods and spends many hours on the school run, nappy changes and dinner duties. Her first wash of lei is a success and she dries overnight as promised.

She’s teamed with heels and boots, tucked into trousers, jazzed up with jumpers, worn back to front and even completely hidden from view as a base layer.

Having a plain black dress, even if it does make me look a bit like a lady’s maid off Downton Abbey on its own, helps me to rediscover jewelery and clothing I already own that barely get used as I never know what to put with them.

Will the next three months be full of woolly wonders or will it be a knitwear nightmare as the adventure unravels? After completing the challenge, I will need to send proof in the form of 100 photos to Woold &, or tag them on social media, to receive my voucher. I shall also let the readers know how I got on.

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