1 dress, 1 girl, 1 year


Why my daughter wore only one dress for a year.

Guest Post author: Melina Harper, Petite Marin co-founder

I am a stay-at-home mom, sewer, upcycler, mompreneur and supporter of the sustainable fashion movement. I made my 4 year old daughter a dress sewn from her dad’s dress shirt. Then, she ended up wearing it for 4 or 5 days a week–for an entire school year! It was a fun and interesting journey that introduced me to the sustainable fashion lifestyle, and that taught me that a minimalist closet consisting of higher quality textiles is a smarter, totally doable option, even for kids!


Here’s why you should care:

Over the years many of us have switched over to organic, local foods in our kitchens and natural skincare/body products for our families. Now, its time to focus on our clothes. But why does it matter – we don’t eat our clothes!

Before you roll your eyes, realize that the fashion industry is one of the worlds dirtiest industries- second only to oil! The current state of the fashion industry is anything but sustainable, with rampant pollution and fast fashion practices, creating many questions about the clothing we wear and dress our children in.

Poor working conditions in factories and landfills full of textile waste are just some of the more obvious results. There are also many concerns about cheap clothing made from unnatural materials and treated with chemicals. Sustainable fashion seeks to create a textile manufacturing system that supports environmental and social responsibility- worthy values we all wish to instill in our children. Less demand for inexpensive, disposable clothing and a focus on craftsmanship is a step in the right direction.

What does that have to do with wearing the same dress for a year?

Here is my story:

Last year, one of my closest friends, and Petite Marin co-founder, Rachel, made a romper for her new baby from one of her husband’s dress shirts. The romper was adorable, and held fond memories of her husband and baby’s playfulness all in one. Inspired by the idea, we both started making more clothes for our children from our husband’s old dress shirts.

After I made my daughter her first dress, I couldn’t get her to wear anything BUT the dress. It was made from my husband’s old chambray button down and my 4 year old daughter loved it. She started requesting to wear it daily. I was concerned about washing it so much (usually when I buy kid’s clothes they rarely last long enough to be given to a younger sibling), but this dress held up beautifully. Even with a few dinnertime spills and falls in the grass. Because it was made from a men’s shirt, designed to be washed and worn frequently, it held up so much better than any of her other clothes. It became our “go to” dress and it looked just as cute layered on cold days as it did during the summer.

I quickly realized that one well-made special garment was so much better than a closet full of cheap children’s clothes that were more or less disposable. As a mom who liked to shop for my two daughters, it was initially a foreign concept, but it was also a welcome change. Over the years, I had countless conversations with other moms about our frustrations with children’s clothing. Clothes looked cute in the store, but once they were worn and washed, they started to fall apart. I often complained to my own mother, who would reply, “They just don’t make things like they used to.” And it’s true! Owning a closet full of cheap clothes is a stark contrast to the wardrobes of previous generations, who owned fewer items that were well made and well cared for. When clothes were purchased, they were bought to last. Today, a minimalist wardrobe is a simple, yet powerful change and I’m hoping that it catches on!

Now, to create a sustainable closet for your kids…a few tips:

Reduce your child’s wardrobe to basic, well-made pieces that are easy to pair and that your child enjoys wearing. A smaller selection may seem more difficult, but it is actually just the opposite. It also means an easier morning routine and less trips to the mall (which is a huge plus for a busy mom)!

When you are ready to buy, look for sustainable brands that create clothes in a more mindful, eco-friendly way; clothes that will last generations, not just a few trips to the park. “Buy less, but better” is a great mantra of the sustainable fashion movement.

Check out your kid’s closet (and your own)!, think before you buy and see what you can do to make a positive impact for yourself and the world.

(After my daughter wore the dress for a year, it was passed down to her younger cousin, who enjoys it just as much as she did.)