campaign to watch: the trusty Little Black Dress.

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campaign: the Uniform Project
raising the money: model Summer Rayne Oakes
goal amount: $10,000

summer day 1

Who knew a Little Black Dress could accomplish so much? Environmental scientist-turned-model Summer Rayne Oakes is wearing it 31 different ways — every day in March — to raise funds for water projects. We caught up with her as her month in the black comes to a close:

You’re an environmental guru… you could’ve chosen plenty of other causes. So for you, why water?

It’s devastating to think that people go every day without something we all need; clean drinking water. And we can change this with simple solutions.

Beyond that, I think the most pressing issues are not even what is in the present day, but what will happen in my lifetime. When I’m 47 years old, the world’s demand for fresh water will increase by 40% just in countries like China, India, Brazil and South Africa. And glacier melt is already happening in countries like India and Nepal. Lack of access to water will be very, very real.

Where did you first hear about charity: water?
A series of environmental events were being thrown at a newly designed green home in Suffolk County and I held a dinner there for 40 close friends to raise money for Energy Action. In turn, I was invited to Adrian Grenier’s event the day after, where I met Scott Harrison from charity: water. We’ve been close acquaintances since.

UP logo

And where’d you hear about the Uniform Project?
I first heard about the Uniform Project via Daily Candy. I give Sheena (creator of the Uniform Project) mad props — I’m not sure how she stuck with the project for 365 days, but I guess when you get momentum with anything, you can do it! I finally met Sheena last year through my friend Tara St. James of STUDYNY. When they asked me if I’d do one of the pilots, I have to admit, I was pretty excited. I hope I lived up to the LBD potential.

summer necklace

Do people usually get your purpose for wearing the same dress?
Oh yeah, totally. People think it’s so cool and noble. And when I wear the dress, at least one person comments on it. It’s pretty fabulous. I have to say it’s an easy way to talk about water issues!

Alright — let’s talk about the dress. You made it look so different each day! What has been your favorite way to wear it?
Phew, that is a toughie. Probably Day 11… I didn’t think would turn out and it really just clicked and worked. Really funky and Harajuku. Then Day 7Day 9 is also great because it’s so me, so loungey. I have some really amazing looks for the last few days, too.

Any fun reactions from those who have seen you in the dress?
Um, well, I shot Day 6 in the Bedford Cheese Shop, which I frequent all too much, so the boys at the counter have seen me every few days in a new LBD look. One time I was coming back from Manhattan after a workout in my running shorts and they were like, “Where’s your Little Black Dress?” and I felt so guilty for not wearing it! They totally called me out on it. But I’m like, “I can’t wear it when I’m working out – I have to wear this thing for two more weeks!” (And no – I still haven’t dry cleaned it yet! Ha!)

Do you own the other clothes and accessories that you have been pairing with your LBD – or have you been teaming up with designers?
I own about 98% of the what I’m wearing in the photos. As you can see, I have quite a collection of vintage pieces. The remaining 2% were loans and donations. The Ebay Green Team donated a few pieces that I’ve been wearing. Terri and Cassandra, the designers of Carasan Designs, LLC who made my black dress, also were generous enough to knit a number of fabulous pieces – like collars, gloves, bloomers and sweaters. And I also borrowed some jewelry from Thea Grant.

The campaign ends in a few days – do you plan to keep involved with charity: water after that?
Oh, yeah. In fact, I started auctioning off some of my clothes on I-Ella on Monday to raise more money for charity: water. And quite honestly, the most fun events are the charity: water balls.

Do you plan to continue to wear your Little Black Dress?
Most definitely. Though I don’t think I’ll be wearing it for 31 days straight again.

Some of our favorite looks…


See more on Summer’s Uniform Project page here >

Use your favorite dress. Or run, bike, bake, swim, dance… You can do anything to raise funds for clean drinking water. 100% of donations go directly to water projects in developing countries. Learn more here >

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