As we know it, June Dresses® was started by Adrienne Donnelly, a school teacher in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Following is an honest and open letter from Adrienne about how and why June Dresses came to be.
Clothes are not simply functional. We choose them purposefully and wear them proudly. Those special items in our closet impact us emotionally – evoking memories, feelings or untapped sides of our personalities.
I’ve always had an emotional connection to clothing. I remember poring over my wardrobe choices for school pictures, lovingly packing away my favourite sweater for safekeeping, feeling the difference when I wore that team jersey, trying to make Wear-Something-That-Makes-You-Smile Day happen among my friends in university. Being conscious of the effect that certain clothes had empowered me to try and overcome negative external influences. I felt I had the power to change how I felt about my day.
In 2009, after a dreary winter, I decided to wear a dress every day in May to celebrate the coming warmth. But being May in Edmonton, I ended up wearing more than a few dresses in snow: the power of the Albertan climate proved to be a stronger force than my desire for spring! My power to influence weather patterns fell short, but the idea of taking the time to be conscious (and sometimes stubborn) about the act of choosing my clothing each day, instead of just throwing on whatever first caught my eye, was one I wanted to pursue.
The following year, in 2010, I moved my month of dresses to June and began taking daily photos to catalogue my progress. By the end of 30 days, I noticed something new. Taking a couple of extra minutes each morning to pick something special to wear made me smile. Putting a little extra effort into how I presented myself for the day had a powerful cumulative effect. I ended the month feeling happier, more confident and more excited. I was dressing for myself, in outfits that made me feel energized about my day. After a month of this, spring wasn’t just in the air around me, it was in me too – I felt new, refreshed and happy.
I had been documenting my daily dresses on Facebook, and the following year, some of my girlfriends joined in the fun, also posting pictures of their month of dresses. As it went on, more friends, then friends of friends, then total strangers started joining in, posting their pictures and sharing how wearing a dress every day for a month made them feel.
By 2012, we had about 100 women posting pictures on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. We had started a revolution to grow something inside ourselves by being more proud of what we wore on the outside. And as more and more women joined, they sought me out to share their JUNE DRESSES® experiences. I was floored and touched that this community we had started was having a shared experience. We were amazed at how much more confident and positive JUNE DRESSES® made us feel; we loved making every day just that little bit more special.
When JUNE DRESSES® participants started to approach me, and gave voice to my own ideas about growing the community, I got really excited. A few of us talked about how we could use the good feeling we got from JUNE DRESSES® and spread it to others. We wanted to start giving back.
We decided to focus on local charities that embodied the same goals as JUNE DRESSES® – ones that understood that confidence in personal appearance can be a catalyst for empowerment for girls and women. When I think about the sorority of womankind, I think of the ideas of confidence and community. When I donned roller skates and fishnets with my roller-derby team or watch my teenage students transform themselves by putting on costumes in drama class, I see firsthand the power that clothes have to inspire both confidence and community.
It’s my hope that one day, all women will have the opportunity to feel empowered by a sense of confidence and community. I am proud and inspired by the fact that JUNE DRESSES® has turned into a platform for just that.