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"The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize." This quote from Olympia Dukakis' character in the movie Steel Magnolias motivates me every time I try to assemble the same old clothes into a fresh look. But, what if you turn accesorizing into something more than just keeping your closet au courant, such as improving educational opportunities for children in India? That would really bring new meaning to this quote.
This is the challenge the creator of The Uniform Project, Sheena Matheiken, set for herself. She'll wear one dress (well, 7 identical versions to minimize trips to the laundromat) for 365 days, using primarily vintage or previously used accessories to construct a new look each day. As she posts her daily outfit, she also asks for donations to support her chosen charity. Sheena originally conceived this idea as a way to promote sustainable fashion and was inspired by her schooldays in India, where her classmates all managed to use accessories to put their own spin on the school-mandated uniform.
As a way to give back to a younger generation of Indian schoolchildren, The Uniform Project serves to raise awareness and funds for the Akanksha Foundation, an organization in India that seeks to improve the educational experience for underprivileged children. By working within the school system, sponsoring summer camps, and providing numerous programs, Akanksha helps children receive a more well-rounded education, ensure they stay in school longer, and gives them increased opportunities for a better life. With Sheena's daily donations and contributions from others, the Uniform Project has already raised over $3,000 in 59 days to fund uniforms and other expenses associated with the Akanksha School Project.
Want to get involved? You can start by making a donation to the Akanksha Foundation, but here are some other cool ways to participate.
- Grab those fucshia tights you don't have the courage to wear and donate accessories for Sheena to wear.
- Are you a designer? Create an accessory and she'll feature it (and you) on her site.
- Have a great idea for an outfit? Send her your concept and perhaps you'll see her wearing your vision.
- You can follow The Uniform Project on Twitter, check out photos on Flickr, join the Facebook group, and soon read the upcoming blog.
Now, for some more fashion talk, because I simply can't resist; this project perfectly exemplifies how the addition of a few accessories can result in a dramatic transformation: a black dress can go from workwear to casual punk to glamorously sophisticated. Accessorizing is a valuable skill to master these days where new clothing purchases are few and far between for most of us. Moreover, in today's culture of disposable fashion, going to vintage and consignment shops or re-purposing items in your closet makes sense not only for your pocketbook but the planet as well. If all this talk about accessorizing has piqued your interest, but you need some inspiration, click through Sheena's daily efforts to bring new meaning to the word "uniform."