Change the World Through Style
Creativity is something we celebrate at Noonday, especially when it comes to fashion. We love challenging ourselves to try something new or out of the box.
Imagine our delight when we found a way to combine two things we love—fashion and justice! Enter Dressember.
What’s Dressember you ask? Dressember is a quirky style challenge with a clever name that has spread to unite women across the globe—women committed to leveraging a simple, feminine fashion choice in order to fight for the dignity and freedom of women worldwide.
The creative challenge is simple: Women commit to wearing a dress every day in December, to embracing the freedom that they have on behalf of those who aren’t free to live vibrant, autonomous lives. These women rally their communities to support them with financial donations, and all funds raised support the work of International Justice Mission, which just happens to be one of our favorite organizations and a previous #StyleForJustice partner.
We had the opportunity to hear from Blythe Hill, founder of Dressember. We are thrilled to share more about this style challenge with you and to participate in the movement ourselves next month.
Tell us a little bit about yourself Blythe
I grew up in Seattle, but currently live in Los Angeles and work full time as an Account Manager for a trend forecasting company based in London. I love baking (I make a mean scone), crafting and reading. I’m notorious for being mid-way through about six books at once.
What are you currently reading?
Right now I’m working through Marriage Rebranded by Tyler Ward, Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof, The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz and am re-reading Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.
It seems you really do have a thing for being in the middle of lots of books (and lots of genres)! So tell us more about Dressember. How did this amazing movement come to be?
Dressember started as a personal style challenge. I was bored in November 2009 and thought I’d spice up my life a bit by coming up with a style challenge. I thought it’d be fun to try wearing a dress every day for a month. It just so happened that the next full month was December, and because I love puns and wordplay I came up with the name Dressember.
I never planned to make it an annual thing, but the year after I did the challenge, some of my girlfriends wanted to do it too. The third year, their girlfriends wanted to do it. By that third year, when women I didn’t know were participating in Dressember, an idea I had thought up out of boredom, I realized it might actually be a good idea. I started dreaming of adding another layer of meaning to it, and using it for good. I saw what Movember was doing to raise awareness for men’s health issues, and thought, “maybe I could use Dressember to raise money for an anti-trafficking organization.”
Why human trafficking? How did IJM get involved?
I’ve always been fired up by the topic of human trafficking. It horrifies me to hear about the things that happen to people in our world. IJM came on my radar around 2011, and the more I learned about them, the more impressed I was by the work they do. They are a truly amazing organization! I took over a year to consider the move before finalizing my decision to align with them, sort of watching them from afar and doing my own research. To this day, everything I learn about them confirms that I made the right choice.
What surprised you the most about Dressember?
I was floored by the success of the first year’s campaign (in 2013)! I remember setting the initial goal of $25,000 and it felt so huge and scary, and then we hit our goal on the third day of the campaign! What began as a few girls in California wearing dresses for fun became a global community of over 1,200 women in 32 countries who collectively raised over $165,000, over six times our original goal!
I love this! It’s amazing what we can do when we join together for good, I’m sure the huge success of the fundraising was a welcome surprise. What are you most looking forward to about this year’s Dressember campaign?
I love the community of women that Dressember creates—it’s so fun to band together in an effort to create change. It’s also so fun to see everyone’s creativity in the styling of their dresses, their #youcandoanythinginadress adventures, and their ideas to boost their campaign.
You’ve definitely created quite a community and we’re excited to be a part of that this year! What would you say to someone who says dresses can’t change the world?
I’d say that in 2011, I would have been in agreement with them. In 2013, I would have offered a hesitant, “Well, maybe they can…” response. Now, I’d say the proof is in the pudding. I hope it inspires people that you can turn anything you do, say, or buy into a vehicle for change.
What is something that people might not know about you?
I’m an introvert. Something that’s been a challenge for me with Dressember is the amount of attention it brings. I’ve always kind of shied away from that, but am learning to step into it more. I’m learning to embrace it, but it tires me out faster than it would if I were extroverted, I think.
Last but not least, we’re dying to know what some of your favorite Noonday pieces are?
I love the Ethiopian pieces that are made from melted down bullet casings; it is such a great picture of redemption! The fact that an object of war can be redeemed and made into a beautiful necklace is powerful.
Thanks so much for sharing with us, Blythe!