How to wear one little black dress (LBD) to work every week of the year!

Dearest BusiChic,

Welcome to a new series I’m starting here today: The BusinessChic Black Dress Project!

Fashion magazines often talk about the timelessness of the Little Black Dress (“LBD”). In May 2009 Sheena Matheiken put this to the test when she set herself the creative challenge of wearing one black dress everyday for 365 days in The Uniform Project.

Sheena’s powers of using accessories (that she had or were donated to her cause) to transform her dress was inspirational, check out the Uniform Project Picture Book:

Uniform Project Picture Book from Uniform Project on Vimeo.

Still, I don’t think that I actually want to wear the same dress to work every day for a whole year (note that Sheena had 2-3 versions of the same dress)! However I am also inspired by concepts like Fashionising’s Curated Wardrobe which I interpret as meaning creating a wardrobe of clothing that I will enjoy for years because they are well made out of fabrics that are delicious to wear. I am interested in sustainable, ethical AND stylish fashion as promoted through initiatives like the Spirit of the Black Dress, blogs like Wardrobe Wonderland, Style Wilderness and magazines like Peppermint because I like the idea of clothing that has a minimal impact on the environment and creates jobs where employees are fairly compensated for their skills. And I really do like accessories and their power to transform a look.

So I am setting myself the challenge of wearing one black dress to work, every week for 52 weeks.

The BusinessChic Black dress project: 1 x Bento Ruby Dress, 52 weeks of BusiChic!

The dress
The dress I’ve chosen for the project is the Bento “Ruby” dress from Melbourne designer Samantha Hardman who has done all the hard work to create a sustainably and ethically-made item that is the perfect canvas for my purpose! Read more about Sam’s journey on her ace blog This is Bento. The dress is made out of delicious natural fibres and every bit of the dress (including the care label!) was made within 20km of Samantha’s home here in Melbourne. The polished tailoring makes it appropriate for both work and work-related events. It is sleeveless so I can layer it as needs be to get me through all the seasons of the year. Its high-neck means that it will be the perfect canvas to be transformed by accessories I already own as well as the work of designers I love.

Did you know that as consumers, the way we care for our clothes through dry cleaning and laundry detergents also has an impact on the environment? I will make sure that Ruby is maintained to work-appropriate standard (i.e. no stains or funky smells) while exploring cleaning methods like green drycleaning and even the concept of ‘clean’ as explored by inspiring sustainable fashion researcher and dirt provocateur Tullia Jack.

Project Limitations
The purpose of this project is to test how versatile a black dress can be. Personally I have chosen a
dress that is made via sustainable fabrics and ethical production because I’d like to show how we can all integrate sustainable/ethical fashion into our existing wardrobes. However I know that I already own pieces which may not be sustainably or ethically made and I predict that there will be times that I use pieces that may not be sustainably or ethically made. I hope that the Black Dress Project gets us all thinking about the choices we have as consumers. I hope that the Black Dress Project gets designers at least thinking about sustainable materials and ethical production.

Sheena made her own project more meaningful by turning it into a fundraiser to send less fortunate kids to school. I haven’t been quite so organised but if there is opportunity for this, I’ll certainly consider it.

I will still be blogging the BusiChic streetstyle that you’ve been coming here for as well as the other outfits that I wear to work over the course of the next 52 weeks!

However I hope that you will share your thoughts on this project as well as ideas on pieces I can buy or borrow (my friends have already pledged!) to transform my Bento Ruby dress for work! So far I’m thinking of necklaces, brooches, scarves, collars, cardigans, cropped jackets, hosiery and hats! I’d love your input too!


  1. Good luck with that, from watching you video I think if you didnt tell anyone then you wouldnt get caught out, there are a fair few looks you can pull off in there!

  2. Love this idea! Look forward to reading the updates.

  3. This is a great idea, looking forward to following this through the year.

  4. wow, I’d love to help out too! I work with a heap of upcycled fabrics, and love colour & texture; I could do brooches, cuffs, or something else, as you wish! How exciting.

  5. Looking forward to this. Can I donate a sustainably sourced and made accessory to the cause?

  6. You are going to have fun with this! That gorgeous Ruby looks fantastic on you – good choice. Id love to see it with a glamourous peplum.

  7. Yay! I am super excited about this! x

  8. Nice project. I don’t think I can do just one black dress for the next 52 weeks. Wonder what I could do with food. You got me thinking.

  9. Another great project Cheryl! Excited to watch it unfold ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Can’t wait to see what you come up with! : )

  11. Wow good luck! Love to see what you’ll be putting together with this gorgeously designed black dress. ๐Ÿ™‚

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