In 2014, The Junior League of London- my dream town and my favorite organization- launched the first Little Black Dress Initiative (LBDI). This week-long campaign driven by social media and word of mouth seeks to raise awareness and funds for the less fortunate in communities in which Junior Leagues serve. With a focus on voluntarism and a reputation for attracting women who are not only caring but also fun, smart, and driven, The Junior League of Charlotte (JLC) is a community service-focused women’s organization and has adopted the LBDI for the past 3 years with hopes to outdo themselves in their 4th year. Learn more about joining The League here– recruitment starts March 25th! Last year’s LBDI total was over $60,000 in just one week with about 100 participants. This year, they want to blow both of those numbers out of the water and are inviting non-JLC members to join in and participate as well.

LBDI participants will work to raise awareness and funds for the JLC’s initiatives aimed at breaking the cycle of poverty for Charlotte children by wearing the same dress for 5 days. We’re lucky to not only have a choice of what we wear each day while our neighbors might be restricted to one precious outfit, but also to have food in our stomachs, roofs over our heads, and options for education, work, etc. How lucky are we to have the luxury of choosing what we want to wear everyday while some only have one choice and much more to worry about apart from their wardrobe? LBDI participants join those less fortunate in solidarity as neighbors and friends and use their voices and networks to champion the work the JLC does to help chip away at the crisis of poverty in our community.

This year, the JLC is also encouraging community members to join in on the humbling week of LBDI not just in donations, but in participation themselves. You don’t have to be a member of the JLC to wear the same thing during the workweek of March 4th – March 8th- all the JLC requires is enthusiasm for the cause, a commitment to wear the same clothing (plus a cute little LBDI button) Monday through Friday, and a fundraising page that they will supply. Don’t let the “dress” in the title of this effort scare you out of participating, make it your little black scrubs or little black tie (gentlemen) and join in!

To participate, register on the fundraising site, then stop by the JLC in Myers Park to pick up an “Ask Me About My Dress” conversation starter button. Stay tuned for fundraising ideas from emails, to statistics, to social media posts. You can also register for the LBDI kick-off party on February 28 where you’ll learn best practices on how to have a successful week. Be sure also to follow along on Facebook and Instagram for ideas on how to spread awareness and raise funds!

To get you ready for LBDI, I grabbed Hannah Travis (a fellow JLC lady) and hit SouthPark for some outfit inspo centering around iconic LBD’s… plus one jumpsuit- don’t be afraid of a killer jumpsuit, they’re great for a night on the town or a Target run depending on how you style them! With items ranging from $6.99 to $798, we have everything you could possibly need to accessorize a LBD from LBDI week to date night to your next grocery run. We set out to prove that you can make a whole dang plethora of outfits with one dress and a few extra items to spice it up and hope this nudges you in the right direction to join in for LBDI.

Let us know how we did in the comments!

Nordstrom

Harper Rose Belted Dress, $138
Madewell Jean Jacket, $118
Steve Madden Daisie Pumps, $89.95
Marled Cardigan, $50
Sole Society Ruffle Clutch, $44.95
BP. Leopard Scarf, $19
BLANKNYC Faux Leather Jacket, $98
Sunglasses, $19

J Crew

Flare-Hem Dress, $128
Tweed Jacket, $248
Pearl Necklace, $98
Manolo Blahnik Kitten Heel (Hannah’s own)
Sophie Cardigan, $123
Perforated Italian Leather Belt, $29.50
Gola for J. Crew Tennis Shoes, $65
Knotted Hair Tie, $15

H&M

Short Dress, $34.99
Knee-Length Coat, $69.99
Imitation Suede Coat, $59.99
Scarf/Hairband, $9.99
Knotted Headband, $6.99
Bug Print Button-Up, $24.99
Platform Ankle Boots, $39.99
Au Revoir Sweatshirt, $24.99
Hairband, $12.99 for 2
Superga Tennis Shoes (my own)

Kate Spade

Square-Neck Scallop Ponte Dress, $228
Laura Flats, $198
Geospade Square Silk Scarf, $88
Cori Mules, $278
Broome Street Teddy Coat, $498 now $349
Sheena Heels in Deep Russett, $298 now $209
On Purpose Taxi Clutch, $128
Pearl Cluster Ring, $88 now $62
Pearl Cluster Earrings, $78 now $62
Leather Moto Jacket, $798
Ritzy Glitzy Newspaper Clutch, $248
Champion Glitter Sneakers, $85
Heritage Spade Linear Earrings, $98
Heritage Spade Heart Link Bracelet, $148
Jabrea Sunglasses, $160
Heritage Spade Wide Floral Enamel Bangle, $198
Confection Linear Drop Earrings, $98
Multi Tweed Coat, $598
Margaux Stud Satchel, $398
Classic Blazer in Pink Opal, $428
Ritzy Glitzy Skyline Marci, $428
Guys. Press a button and this baby lights up!

Anthropologie

Greylin Jumpsuit, $152
…obviously not a dress, but check out the versatility here!
Cartonnier Blazer, $118
Half Moon Necklace, $48
Skies are Blue Leopard Jacket, $150
Ivory Hat, $68
Cloth & Stone Chambray Button-Down, $98

50,000 children in Charlotte alone are living in poverty and studies show that exposure to early life adversity threatens overall health and cognitive development, impeding a child’s ability to learn. Ever tried to concentrate when you’re hungry? What about when your tooth aches? It’s far from easy. Now try to it every. single. day. We can do better in the Queen City but have been ranked 50/50 for upward mobility. Knowledge truly is power and, for some, a way to break the cycle of poverty. Being a first generation college graduate myself, I know the way that doors can open for you when you’re armed with an education.

Help the JLC nurture the potential of all of our smallest Charlotteans with support for their community partners like Promising Pages and Second Harvest Food Bank as they feed the minds and bodies of less fortunate little ones in our city. Your donations will fund these and other needed programs with which the JLC partners.

Special thanks to the abundantly patient (and fun) sales folks at Anthropologie, J Crew, and especially Kate Spade (ask for our new friend Emily)!