Little Black Dress

The History of the Little Black Dress Initiative 

The Little Black Dress Initiative (LBDI) is a social media-driven awareness and fundraising campaign started by the Junior League of London to raise awareness about poverty and its effects on women’s lives. 

Since its launch in London in 2014, more than 80 Junior Leagues have participated in LBDI, raising tens of thousands of dollars and awareness about their particular community work focus, i.e., domestic violence, human trafficking, literacy, food insecurity. 

LBDI advocates wear the same black dress (or outfit) for five consecutive days to illustrate the restrictions poverty places on choices, opportunities, and access to resources. Each advocate normally wears a button that says “ask me about my dress”, inviting dialogue among colleagues, friends, and strangers about this initiative’s message. Advocates also engage on social media, sharing statistics, information, and their experiences throughout the period. Messaging includes a soft ask for donations to support the cause. 

Junior League of Washington’s LBDI 2021

Washington, DC is the nation’s capital and the heart of our country; however, 16.2% of its residents live in poverty – which is 3.9% above the national average. The largest demographic living in poverty is women aged 25 – 34, followed by women aged 18 – 24. 

Even more staggering, 23% of minors, and 24.36% of families in Washington, DC’s Ward 8, live below the poverty line, and39% of children live in households that spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing (a proportion of income only surpassed in California and New York). When families must spend significant proportions of their incomes on housing, it leaves their budgets pinched for other household necessities like food, health, out-of-school time, transportation, and other important expenses.

It is time to combat this issue by donating to the Junior League of Washington’s (JLW) Little Black Dress Initiative, October 18 – 22. The LBDI Initiative is about more than wearing your favorite black outfit; it is about raising awareness and resources for our neighbors and community members impacted by poverty. Your donation to LBDI goes towards the Community Assistance Fund (CAF) and JLW programming and initiatives designed to support the Washington, DC Community.

This year, in the week leading up to the event, we are partnering with A Wider Circle to collect new and used business attire for our neighbors. Donations can be brought to JLW Headquarters, 3039 M St NW, during regular business hours (9 a.m. – 5 p.m.) or to our kick-off happy hour event to be held on October 13 at The Admiral in Dupont Circle from 6 – 8 p.m.

For questions, please email us littleblackdress@jlw.org.

Little Black Dress is taking place from Monday, October 18 through Friday, October 22.