By Heidi Stevens
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) In an effort to challenge the norms of what women should or should not wear, a Chicago woman spent 100 days in a row wearing a tulle skirt around the city. While at first it was simply a liberating project where she posted photos on Instagram, it has turned into a full fledged business with a philanthropic component.
A funny thing happened when Silvana Favaretto started wearing tulle skirts every day.
Freed from the chains of convention and the weight of other people’s expectations, the 35-year-old graphic designer began to feel fearless.
“Before, I was living the way I thought people wanted me to be,” Favaretto told me. “Now, I’m not afraid to do things my way. I started listening to myself.”
Some background: Favaretto, a native of Brazil who moved to the United States 11 years ago, was walking around Chicago with a friend last summer when she spied a couple of young girls in tutus.
“Little girls wear whatever they want to wear,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s all different patterns and clashing colors. I wanted to get in touch with that part of myself, the part that says I feel pretty when I wear whatever I want, not whatever people are expecting me to wear.”
So for 100 days in a row, Favaretto wore a tulle skirt and posted photos of herself on Instagram. Walking around in an item typically reserved for brides and ballerinas felt a little risky, and a lot liberating.
“We put women in these boxes. ‘If you wear this, it means that,'” she said. “I feel like, with this project, I reached a point where I decided I’m going to challenge that.”
After her 100 days were up, Favaretto launched The Tulle Project, where she blogs and sells a variety of tulle skirt styles, ranging in price from $99.99 to $119.99.
For every skirt she sells, she donates one to the University of Chicago’s Comer Children’s Hospital.
The project has her questioning why we often consider overtly feminine clothing a signal of frivolity.
“If we want to be powerful and successful,” Favaretto said, “we’re told to dress more like men.”
She recently attended a conference with a designer who was offering tips on dressing for success.
“One of the things she said was, ‘You can’t wear anything too feminine and whimsical,'” Favaretto said. “I stood up and said, ‘I sell tulle skirts, and they’re very feminine and whimsical.’ She told me, ‘Well, you can’t wear that in a boardroom if you want to be taken seriously.'”
But why not?
“I want to see more tulle skirts in the boardroom,” Favaretto said. “Being powerful means I get to choose what I’m going to wear.”
And she chooses tulle skirts.
I admire anyone who takes a look at the subtle appearance rules we put in place and questions whether they’re fair _ or necessary.
With her tulle skirts, Favaretto is doing that beautifully.
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“This project is all about me getting in tune with myself and valuing myself,” she said. “And I’m having way more fun than I used to.”
More power to her.