Little White Dress Project

For two weeks, Haley Sherif wore one dress, to show just how much one can do with one piece, a sartorial challenge if there ever was one. See a compendium of the blogposts (as well as her inspirations) below!

Little White Dress Challenge: Day One! Super Simple White & Gray!

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In March I was inspired by a fantastical project I discovered via the green fashion queen Summer Rayne Oakes. She was participating in the Uniform Project for a month. The Uniform Project was founded in 2009 by Sheena Matheiken when she decided to don a little black dress for 365 days in order to raise awareness for sustainability and as a fundraiser to support the Akanksha Foundation.

I loved the idea! Here was a brilliant chance to put sustainability into practice. When I get an idea it’s very difficult to deter me, so following countless emails the Little White Dress project was born. I love the philosophy behind the idea, and I love the motivation that comes with having to plan out how I’ll wear my LWD in different and interesting ways every day.

For about the next three weeks I’ll be fashioning the Little White Dress shown here. It’s the Sassafrass dress from eco label Bodkin and I purchased it from Kaight. It’s made of a softly woven organic cotton, and it’s comfortable and lightweight, two important factors for my daily commute to Columbia University, where I’ve been attending a three week intensive writing workshop (and running around hot, humid NYC in the summer). It also doesn’t wrinkle too badly and is easy to travel with, so it’s absolutely perfect to take with me to the Hamptons over the weekends where I spend time chasing a three year old, taking walks to the beach and town, and attending dinners and BBQ’s.

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For Day One of the Little White Dress Challenge I was adamant about showing off the dress itself and letting it shine rather than overwhelm it with accessories, so I paired it with gray leggings and a cute pair of flats. It looked stunning through my commute, eight hours of intense writing workshopping, and some post-class errand shopping. Needless to say this dress was a serious score!

More to come, tomorrow!

Little White Dress Challenge, Day Two: The Cunning Optimism of Language

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It’s day two of the LWD Challenge! (Here is what I wore on day one!)

Recently in Seminar, we discussed short prose. What it was, what it includes, who writes it. What I love about short prose is its ability to flee from a single definition, as it refuses to be tied down by criteria specific to its genre, it refuses to fit a mold countless writers, students, and teachers have fit it into.

That’s what makes reading and writing prose so enjoyable for me. Give me a delicious iced coffee and the brilliant works of writers who once too sat bent at the shoulder, notebook below and a stack of work to read, influence, and learn.

I have to be comfortable in the summer, especially when working, so today I fashioned my LWD lifted up and buttoned behind me, overtop a simple brown dress. I made sure to add a pop of color, one of summer’s biggest trends, with dangling blue earrings.

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Here’s a small example of some of the short prose writing I have done so far:

Rain has much to say. It revolves around the buildings following their geometric forms, not ever cutting corners. Each drop becomes personal something to hold on to, something that holds onto a million eyelashes, unless otherwise repelled by an artificial force. I have fallen in love with rain because rain does not discriminate. In this case, rain is a connector without a color. Rain, perceived to be blue and lucite, often turns, washes down in brown. It combines with its environment, often lost, but somehow liberated from sticking in one area for too long. It soothes the most rigid of wounds and most disheveled of hearts.

Little White Dress Challenge, Day Three: Businessey Attire!

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Today was a sweltering day! I had a bunch to do on top of commuting and workshop, and really wanted to be as creative with the dress as I could. So, today I decided to tuck the dress into a maxi skirt tied at the bottom and finish the outfit off with slim wedges. Boy, was it cool! No one noticed the dress, it took them two or three looks before they saw that indeed there was the LWD, acting much undercover.

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I took a few quick glances at myself in the mirror and had to admit, I looked ready for a day of work, work, work, but also an evening of play. That’s one of the reasons I love doing this project, because sometimes there’s those days that you really feel on top of the world, happy and lucky, and at the same time I was doing my little something to care for mother nature.

In case you missed it, here is what I wore on day two!

Little White Dress Challenge, Day Four: Summer Simplicity

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It’s always fun to try new things. Especially as I revel in each new day at workshop, I am constantly experimenting. Whether it be a word association poem or an adaptation of Samuel Beckett’s act without words, I love to try new things. Of course, there’s another side that comes with experimenting, the editing and chopping away, but as with all arts, and writing especially trial and error is how we learn the most.

Maggie Nelson wrote a book called Bluets about her relationship with the color blue and emotion. She begins, “Suppose I were to begin by saying that I had fallen in love with a color.” Short passages are broken up by number, and this is not just an example of beautiful short prose, but demonstrates how her small fragments become one when combined.

Much like Nelson, sometimes I dress hoping that with just the right ingredients, the right color bracelet or shoe, beautiful fashion will ensue. Today I paired my little white dress tied at the waist with black and white shorts and gladiator sandals, and a vintage handkerchief. A throwback to simpler times.

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Here is what I wore on day three in case you missed it!

Little White Dress Challenge: Day Five! Red, White, and Black All Over

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It was hot, as it always is during New York summers, but I couldn’t help but pull on my red jeans this morning! I love red jeans in the summer. They’re a perfect break from white jeans which more often than not become gross & gritty after a long day commuting around town. Funny how just a little bit of color makes all the difference.

I’m reading Maggie Nelson’s Bluets and I find her commentary so fascinating. It makes me look at color in a new way, makes me wonder about the very essence of color. It would be so drab to live in a black and white world, but black and white make for a great slate to add color to when it comes to dressing. So for day five of the LWD challenge I left the dress open, wore a black tank to complement my red jeans, and completed the look with adorable patterned shoes.

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The work never seems to end and the to do list just grows and grows, but moments like this one below, makes me fall in love with the summer dog days more and more.

I have never been to Coney Island.
You’ve never been to Coney Island?
So, we went. It wasn’t one of those trips were happiness seems fleeting or one of those adventures too good to be true. There was a balance. Moments I felt her smile others where she reverted to childhood memories. I never mind hearing stories of horseback riding and corn dogs.

Here’s what I wore on day four!

Little White Dress Challenge, Day Six: Go Crazy!

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Sometimes you just need to go crazy! It would suck to be completely normal, we all have to have her eccentric sides and embrace them. Learn to love being silly and laughing just because. Life isn’t fun if it’s taken too seriously. Why I think fashion and writing go hand in hand is simply because both require creativity and flourish with practice.

For day six I decided to tuck my little white dress into a full striped skirt and complete the look with gladiators. The skirt’s cream colored accents matched perfectly with the dress. People loved it! My boss saw it from a distance and claimed to have loved the skirt on that “cool girl”, before she knew it was me!

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In case you missed it this is how I styled my little white dress on day five!

Little White Dress Challenge, Day Seven: Roses (Dresses) are Rad

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As the Little White Dress Challenge continues into Days 7 and beyond, I’m still not having too much trouble utilizing my organic cotton Bodkin dress from Kaight in a new and different ways (read more about the challenge here). This morning I just couldn’t walk out the door without a little color of me, and because I absolutely love this flowered dress I choose to throw it on using the little white dress as a vest, paired with TOMS for my feet.

New York is one of the most diverse and dynamic cities, but when the summer blues drop in on me, I have some fantastic friends to fall back on. Whether it be taking my first trip up to Coney Island, running in the park, or just spending an extra ten minutes in bed chatting, it’s nice to have mature, strong, women friends as mentors.

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Spend time embracing each day; sometimes all it takes is a friendly “hello” and your day is so much better. Some good advice I recently got while composing an interview for my journalism class (taught by Eco Chick editor Starre Vartan), was to acknowledge the downs in life as it’ll make the ups easier to appreciate.

Here is what I wore on day six.

Little White Dress Challenge, Day Eight: Tee Time

Sometimes it’s just a pants day, no matter the weather or the heat; I just like a good looking pant that’ll get me around the city. These blue cropped pants are just too delicious not to spend some time in, especially when I need to retire my white jeans for a weekend. I decided to tuck in my little white dress, adding both a tad of formality, but also an interesting spin off! Yet another look where friends had to look twice. I loved being able to wear my dress as a tee. It really lent itself to its versatility, not even wrinkling by the end of the day!

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I got my awesome FEED bag online which I absolutely love! It goes with everything and it’s the perfect everyday bag to use. It looks stylish especially with my adorable pair of TOMS. It’s so easy to be sustainable and chic.

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I read this except from Maggie Nelson’s Bluets this week and had to share it, simply since it made me smile:

“For no one really knows what color is, where it is, even whether it is. (Can it die? Does it have a heart?) Think of a honeybee, for instance, flying into the folds of a poppy: it sees a gaping violet mouth, where we see an orange flower and assume that it’s orange, that we’re normal.”

Here is how I wore my little white dress on day seven!

Little White Dress Challenge, Day Nine: Dressed to the Max!

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I am all about New York City, the constantly moving atmosphere, the diverse array of friends I have, and the beauty of a city I know so well, but on Monday I embarked on a five day road trip! Yes, I now can pump gas, find bed & breakfasts extremely quickly, and even know that the purple line on my iphone’s map sometimes lies. I was road tripping with a sweet friend who made me laugh at almost every turn, always knew when to switch up the tunes, and let me share her big 29 with her (all week).

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Old Orchard Beach, Maine

We hit up seven states, including Maine, Connecticut, and Massachusetts, drank countless cups of joe, visited a Texas Roadhouse, and took a number of beautiful detours. But, at the end of it all I can honestly say there was almost no bad and a whole lot of good.

Our last stop is my home away home, the cheese steak city, Philly. Part of my family lives there and so I absolutely had to visit. Of course I had to choose the record breaking hottest day, coming in at around 101. But, not minding the heat, and all too happy to have arrived at the chic Ritz hotel, we ordered a delicious breakfast and by the late afternoon I braved the heat to visit one of my favorite stores in Philly, Kimberly Boutique. Kim, the owner, and Lauren, one of the best stylists I know, have been close friends for several years. I adore the shop and stop by whenever I’m in the city to visit.

Though I hadn’t had a chance while on the road to wear my little white dress, I quickly told Lauren about the project and begged her for some style assistance. Over the next few days I’ll share with you five looks she came up with. They are all chic, easy to put together, and of course, revolved around my little white dress.

For day nine I choose to wear the little white dress under a comfy black sweater. Both perfect for the air conditioned office, and easy to adjust for the oppressive heat. (See what I wore on Day 8 here!)

Little White Dress Challenge, Day Ten: Downward Dog in Style

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Super comfy is my go-to look. It doesn’t matter if I’m running for a coffee with a friend, doing an errand, or simply strolling around the city, I love to wear my yoga clothes. Sweats have never done it for me, so my super comfy Lululemon leggings are a favorite, along with a cute tank and lightweight tee.

I’d been toying with the idea of using my Bodkin Little White Dress as a scarf for a few weeks now, but until Lauren suggested a try that as a look I hadn’t actually gone ahead with it. Boy, had I been missing out! I slipped the bottom ends through the arm holes and before I knew it I had a chic scarf that complimented my yoga style.

This is one of my favorite looks because not just does it look adorable it just goes to show how versatile this LWD really is. Go ahead, do it yourself! Make it today that instead of letting the still tagged clothes pile up! Try modelling an old scarf as a belt or a vintage slip as a chic dress, (making sure you have the proper undergarments, otherwise a big no no) or any other creative idea you’ve thought about but never tried!.

Little White Dress Challenge: Day Eleven Fierce Yet Fit

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As a woman I defiantly both feel and read about the complex nature of style in the work place. Too much leg is considered inappropriate, yet too little is labeled conservative – where’s the balance? I think for a woman to both nourish her femininity, yet keep to work rules to strike the perfect balance is easy with a few, easy to find accessories. It’s all about the accessories anyway the season, so there’s no better time to kick your wardrobe up a notch, add several classic pieces like the brown belt I’m modeling here, and add a tad of drama with a bold necklace.

For day eleven I adhered to the classic fashion mantra, less is more, by leaving my little white dress just the way it was, tossing on a superb chain necklace, and an awesome belt. Here’s to being classy and chic! Now, that’s a fierce act.

Little White Dress Challenge: Day Twelve Green With Envy

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Army green is an IT color right now (it has been for a couple seasons and continues to be, lucky for us!). It’s the perfect color for those of use who stick to a black, white, and gray wardrobe. It works well with most complexions and it’s easy to use as a base for some bold accessories.

For day twelve, I wore my little white dress open as a vest and modeled it over this army green dress. Good for the work place or out on the town, this is a super-versatile look!