The real Sisterhood of the Wandering Dress. My idea for spreading girl power in Poland

How do you feel about your body? Do you like yourself? Does a number on a label affect your confidence? What do you wear to feel more feminine? When was the last time you felt the real girl power — or maybe you’re still looking for it?

Time to say goodbye

A few months ago, on November 2nd, I was celebrating my one year anniversary of wearing only skirts. Then I put one of my dresses into a box and gave it to my friend Ania who took it with her on a honeymoon trip. She was the first on a list of 100 in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Dress. I created this project and have been coordinating it from the beginning. Every photo of my dress being worn by different women gives me chills about how girl power can spread. How did it start, you ask? It’s quite a long story…

Man! I DON’T feel like a woman

2016 was a life changer for me. I spent it becoming a mother, in every meaning: being pregnant, having my 1st child, taking care of a newborn and trying to find myself in those new roles. It’s hard to find a more woman-like experience than this, right? Yet it was the time when I felt the least feminine in my life. And I was looking for a way to change it.

“I couldn’t tell the pants hadn’t come into our lives because of tragedy. They’d just witnessed one of those regular but painful life transitions”.
Ann Brashares, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

My year without pants

My friend Klaudia started a project called “365 days in a skirt”. I saw it on Facebook and I immediately joined it. My first photo was added the same day when I came back to work after my maternity leave. Normally, I would have worn my beloved 501’s and some sweater, hiding myself in this outfit, looking “mom-like” in the worst meaning of this word. Instead, I decided to wear skirts and dresses every day. Or trying to because I needed time to change my thinking. In my head, a dress is… well, dressy. Too dressy.

A whole new world

I found myself in a new reality, where I had all these roles I took before, plus being a mom. And I needed to fit my old clothes into it. All of them… except for all my pants, trousers and jeans. I would wear a skirt to the office — the easiest part, I had done it before, including 3 years of cycling to work, usually in a dress (best thing in summer). I would wear a skirt when I was carrying the baby stroller up and down the stairs (pro tip: don’t wear maxi and heels). And when I was sitting in a sandbox and in a playground (pro tip: wear shorts). And when I was trying to breastfeed discreetly in public — and it was the most difficult part because when you’re the only mother not wearing leggings and a loose sweatshirt, you always attract attention.

Talkin’ bout the revolution

The challenge of wearing a skirt (or a dress) every day, no matter what, has opened my mind. Klaudia’s project made a slow, velvet revolution in my head: about clothes, my body, my personal style, my gender, even who I am as a person. Of course, this wasn’t only about what I wore. This was obviously a special time in my life, a time of many smaller and bigger breakthroughs. And the project happened in a perfect moment. But it was a big thing to me and I wanted to pass this energy further, to other women. Help them find proof that they’re ok no matter how they look. Show them that hiding in sweatpants can’t help with accepting their body.

“You know what the secret is? It’s so simple. We love one another. We’re nice to one another. Do you know how rare that is?”
Ann Brashares, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

Off we go, then

During this 1st year of my “dressing”, one of the group’s members mentioned “The Sisterhood of Travelling Pants” series. It was like a spark for me. I remembered a contest my company organized in 2011 for a Polish postal company: over a hundred garden gnomes were traveling around Poland between different parcel lockers. It was something like a relay race. I wanted to do the same with one dress. I immediately started to look for a dress that could be worn by women of different body types. It was important because I didn’t want to exclude anyone because of their size. Girl power is more than numbers.

One dress to fit them all

It wasn’t an easy task but I’ve found “the one” accidentally in a local mall. Dark blue, A-shaped, sleeveless. It was elastic and the cut was quite universal. The label said “size S”. S as in “small”. For me, it was S as “super” and “size just as good as the others”. Obviously, I took it. And passed it further with a thick notebook where every member of the Sisterhood would write down her feelings and thoughts about wearing The Dress.

It goes on and on, and on, and on

Now the event is one-third finished. 30 women have worn the dress so far, adding their personal style to it every time, trying to make it more “like them”. The dress was taken for a date night, to the theater and a few concerts — but also to a usual work or school day. It was a silent witness of the dailiness of average women. An artifact that connected them regardless of their size and situation. Of course, I know that a hundred doesn’t make a good statistical sample. But I believe that this one dress can be that small rock that starts an avalanche of thinking in each one of us. Every big change starts with something small.

All in all, we’re different. But at the same time, we’re women. We really do have something in common. Even if it’s something as elusive and undefinable as femininity. Or a cultural, customary right to wear a dress.

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