The first year I learned about Dressember also happened to be my first winter in the Midwest—a coincidence I now find pretty comical. I moved from the mild winters of Virginia to Missouri, where December is more of a “real” winter, in the truest sense of the word: cold, windy, and oftentimes snowy. I’m now used to bundling up in the winter, running from my car into work, and spending as little time as possible in the freezing temperatures.
The idea behind Dressember is simple: Wear a dress every day of the month, while raising money for women’s injustice through the International Justice Mission (IJM) through having your own fundraising page or by joining a team and raising money as a team of women.
Even though the founder of Dressember, Blythe Hill, says it “started as a silly idea, born out of boredom,” I also don’t think it’s a mistake that it takes place in winter—during a month when women might normally prefer to wear pants, for the sheer sake of staying warm. Dressember thus happens at the most inconvenient time to make the biggest impact for women.
This year marks my third year taking part in Dressember, and it is now as important a Christmas tradition for me as decorating the tree is. In the hopes of encouraging you to take part in the movement as well, here are three tips (and myth-busters!) for participating in your first Dressember:
1. Have an “you can do it” friend.
I have been lucky enough to take part in Dressember the last two years with my best friend. I realize not everyone might be able to do this, but I highly encourage you to have a friend alongside you to do Dressember with—especially for those colder days or on mornings when you wake up late. The encouragement it provides is so beneficial.
My best friend and I don’t live in the same state, but for the last three years we have celebrated New Year’s Eve together, meaning we also celebrate the end of Dressember together. Traditions are big to me and I love that we can now also include Dressember in our holiday traditions.
2. The “I have only have 2 dresses” myth
This comment comes up every time I talk about Dressember—and it was my first thought, too. I didn’t really want to spend lots of money on new dresses just so I could participate in a fundraising event.
Slowly, I developed my own approach to Dressember. I now get one to two new dresses on ThredUp to accent what I already have in my closet. I also use cardigans, scarfs and tights to make my summer dresses winter-appropriate, and to help me not freeze :) Also, If this is the only thing keeping you from participating in Dressember, be encouraged by its founder, Blythe, who wears the same dress every day with different accessories and clothing.
The motto I repeat over and over again is, “I can do anything for 31 days.”
Keeps your perspective outside of yourself
I don’t think it’s an accident that Dressember also happens during the same month as Christmas. The month of Christmas lists and presents and focusing on ourselves, no matter how hard we try not to. I’m so guilty of it—making Christmas lists of what I’ve wanted during the year, even while telling myself “this is the season of celebrating our Lord and Savior was born.”
I’ll never forget visiting Guatemala in July of 2015 with Noonday Collection, and visiting IJM’s headquarters there. When their leader asked our group of 15 women if we had participated in Dressember the previous December, over half of us raised our hands. Without hesitation he said “thank you” for participating in one of their most effective fundraising incentives to date.
A fundraiser that entails wearing a dress for 31 days. That’s it. It's a powerful thing when women come together for good, and Dressember is one heck of an example.
It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed with the injustive and poverty in our world, but together, we can see things closer and take small steps towards creating a better world—steps as small as wearing a dress for 31 days.
Are you in? Let's be on the same team and let’s change the world together through fashion! And, if you've participated in Dressember before, what tips or myth-busters do you have for us going into another Dressember? Let's encourage one another as we create a better world together!