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New England woman wears same dress for 100 days in a row, and 'no one notices'

Sarah Robbins-Cole wore the same merino wool black dress for 100 days in a row to highlight the environmental, economic, and societal impact of fashion.

CASCO, Maine — Sarah Robbins-Cole loves a good challenge. 

"I am a kind of a challenge junkie," Robbins-Cole said. 

When the clergywoman from Boston happened upon a 100 Day Dress Challenge online, she thought, "I could totally do that."

The college chaplain at Wesley wears a dress most days but said the tricky part was deciding when to start because, as we all know, New England weather can be fickle. 

The 100 Day Dress Challenge was launched by a dress company that is trying to promote, on top of their dresses, more conscientious fashion. For Robbins-Cole it was all about the ripple effect shopping habits have on the environment, other world markets, and ourselves.

"Something like 800 gallons of water goes into producing one cotton T-shirt. Eighty-two pounds of clothing end up in a landfill from each individual in the United States every year," Robbins-Cole said. 

The Episcopal Parish Priest who also has a home in Casco said she used to think she was doing a good deed donating her old clothes to charity shops but has since learned those clothes often are shipped to third world countries where they offset a local market. 

With plenty of motivation, she rolled up her sleeves and started the challenge on Sept. 6, 2020, with a uniform to help give her days in the pandemic uniformity. 

Her challenge was never intended for a wider audience, she only told a few friends and her family, but Robbins-Cole started an Instagram page to document her 100 days. 

It's hard to tell that all her posts feature the same merino wool dress because she styled it with scarves, tights, leggings, sweaters, jeans, other skirts, and shoes...oh the shoes!

"I knew I had to get creative," Robbins-Cole said. 

She wore the dress every day until Christmas, only taking it off to sleep and work out. The $138 dress only needed washing about a dozen times, and Robbins-Cole continues to wear it even though her challenge is long done. 

In a matter of days, her Instagram feed gained thousands of followers, and media outlets from all over the world have reached out. Her story has been featured in 65 newspapers from Britain to India and Australia. 

"What I have learned is how kind the world is."

Robbins-Cole said she has received hundreds of kind messages from people around the world. Friends who found out about the challenge from the media asked her why they hadn't noticed she was doing the challenge. 

"We think that the spotlight is on us more than it really is. No one is looking at what we are wearing," Robbins-Cole said. 

What is next for the so-called "challenge junkie," Robbins-Cole said her 2021 goal was to try not to buy any clothes, accessories, or shoes. 

By not changing her outfit for more than three months, Robbins-Cole helped change her life for the better. 

"Trying to grow and learn and be flexible in a world that is always changing is really important to me."

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