Sheena Matheiken's original idea was simple: Wear the same LBD every day for a year and blog about it to raise awareness and money for the Akanksha Foundation, a grassroots movement supporting education for underprivileged children in India.
The hard part: accessorizing said dress using only sustainable, donated, used, or vintage items. Oh, and did we mention: wear the same dress every day for a year.
More than $100,000 -- and 365 seriously stylish ensembles -- later, Matheiken's original Uniform Project is now over, but it's just the beginning of her mission to help others raise money for causes they believe in and ignite a little creativity into people's fashion choices.
See, lots of folks checked in to see how Matheiken would style her LBD each day, and they wanted that dress, which can be worn front or back or as an open tunic.
"We released 365 limited-edition dresses to commemorate each day of the project," Matheiken tells StyleList. "In one week, we raised $10,000 for Akanksha. "There were a lot of requests, so we decided to make a new dress, with the help of our in-house fashion expert, Tara St. James."
Ten percent of proceeds from the $150 dress, made of an organic cotton/silk blend and available in sizes teen to XL, go to Akanksha. For those who prefer a little DIY action, the pattern is available for $20 (for $50, you get the pattern and the fabric).
And while Matheiken's Uniform Project is still selling last year's dress, the team is also turning its focus to the launch of a new project Aug. 1: The Pilot Series puts a twist on Matheiken's yearlong project by featuring 12 mini challenges. The tagline: 1 Dress. 1 Month. 1 Cause.
"It's pretty much what I did, but a more condensed version," Matheiken tells StyleList. "They're micro challenges where one pilot takes on a cause that's close to their heart and they pick their ideal staple Little Black Dress and wear it for a month."
Matheiken says the Uniform Project will work with participants to help design and produce their perfect LBDs and provide them with a platform to raise money for their individual causes.
"And they do the same thing I did: They only accessorize with sustainable accessories -- stuff that is either pre-owned or recycled or donated or handmade or vintage," she says. "They're not allowed to buy anything new."
They're looking for interesting designers, too. "We're approaching big names in the ethical fashion realm, and sometimes, not -- we want to win them over to doing more ethical production," Matheiken says.
While she can't name names yet, Matheiken says an "exciting" list of designers are already on board to create some of the dresses for the Pilot Series, all of which will be produced ethically. You'll have a chance to buy those dresses, too.
"Every month, we're going to release a limited edition [of dresses]," Matheiken says. Also in the works, Matheiken says, is a DIY project that would allow for more participants and for causes at a more local level, such as community gardens.
As for her contribution to the number of Web sites now touting "fashion diets" and wardrobe minimization, Matheiken says she hopes she added a little fuel to the fad.
"I wouldn't claim to be the first one to ever do this, but I think it definitely got a lot of blog love," she says. "I think it's great. It's good to see people getting creative with their wardrobes and taking on fun challenges and moving away from blind trends."
Inspired to do a little sustainable styling of your own? Check out some great DIY ideas.