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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Uniforms: Not Just For Role-Playing!

Posted by Hannah Franklin on Wed, Jul 29, 2009 at 1:30 PM

What do Daria, Batman, and this girl have in common? Find out after the jump!

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Like most precocious preteens in the 90s, I wanted to be Daria Morgendorffer. I deludedly thought we were, like, basically twins — I'm misanthropic, too, Daria! We both have fluffy hair and weirdly pallid lips! We both like writing and, uh, music and stuff! Also, that Trent guy — hubba hubba, amirite? I got over it by the time I was in high school — being really foul to everyone gets exhausting, plus I one day accidentally rocked at PE and ended up at the K-Swiss and Hollister lunch table. But I still have this vestigial fetish for Daria's cartoon uniform. I still fantasize about being able to wear the same outfit every day, and in the summer, I often do (I have, like, thirty Hanes wife-beaters). I wanted to go to boarding school just so I could have a quotidian uniform, a blank palette upon which I could lavishly accessorize with herringbone tights or dramatic lipstick or chunky barrettes.

Problematically, it would take serious, serious balls to wear the same thing every day, especially if you had any sort of desk job. Wearing the same thing two days in a row is a little sexy; it implies that maybe you spent the night at someone else's apartment (a-wink!) and didn't have time to go home and change. Wearing the same thing for a whole week implies that you're homeless.

Enter Sheena Matheiken, my new fashion icon and real-life uniform pioneer. Sheena pledged to wear the same black dress for a year to raise money for the Akanksha Foundation, which helps underprivileged Indian children pursue an education. Raised in India herself, Sheena is no stranger to the uniform — she had to wear one to school every day. She commissioned her friend, Eliza Starbuck, to sew seven identical black dresses, one for each day of the week. Every day she would reinvent her look with accessories and additional clothing layers alone. The Uniform Project started in May 2009 and is documented on Sheena's website — she posts a daily pic of her outfit with a detailed description of anything else she's wearing. Accessories were probably anathema to Daria, but they're definitely what makes following Sheena's project so compulsively addictive. She's also totally adorable. I will be so ecstatic if this uniform thing becomes a trend. C'mon, if Sheena and Daria and every superhero ever can do it, why can't we?

For further reading on Sheena and the project, check out this recent New York Times Mag article, and read an interview with Sheena here.

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