It was a bold move for a jeans-and-T-shirts girl. Earlier this spring, Nicole Weiler made a challenge to herself: She was going to wear dresses twice a week.

Weiler posted her resolve on Facebook: "Just made a solemn vow to wear more dresses this summer." That post got more than a dozen comments before one of her friends took the idea and ran.

Minneapolis florist Liz Bastian, already a fan of skirts and dresses, switched the conversation to Twitter. Bastian created the #summerofdresses Twitter feed, which turned Weiler's personal challenge into a public movement

Meghan Wilker had met Weiler only briefly. But after reading the tweets on #summerofdresses, Wilker, who is a Web developer and blogger, was inspired to don a dress -- and set up a blog for the go-girlie movement. The website functions as a collective blog with multiple contributors, where anyone can add a photo of themselves in a dress.

"It's about real women -- not models -- posting photos of themselves wearing stuff that makes them feel good," said Wilker. "I think women get a bad rap sometimes about cutting each other down, especially where appearance is concerned. And this site is the total opposite of that."

With more than 365 posts and 17,000 hits, the website has reached beyond its local roots to include posts from Missouri and Florida. Even apparel e-tailer ModCloth has latched onto the ongoing Twitter discussion.

And so has a group of local men.

Dapper Dans

Paul Wichser, a real-life friend of Weiler, read some of the tweets and decided he didn't want to be left out. "I like dressing up and showing off, too," he said. So he started tweeting and created the website

"The goal of the website is to build a community around guys who want to think about how they are dressed and dress intentionally," he said.

For Wichser, being dapper means taking his look up a notch, whether it's wearing the vests of a "bygone era" or simply going a step above jeans. In part because the summer heat can make a layered ensemble more uncomfortable, he plans to extend the dress-up campaign into the fall.

Some of the summerofdresses cohorts have vowed to do the same, adding tights and cardigans to their summer frocks to make their feminine looks last.

And Weiler, the accidental instigator, now wears dresses three and five times a week. She's discovered that dresses are easy. "You put on a necklace and some shoes and you're done," she said.

And the feminine frocks haven't cramped her active lifestyle, which includes climbing trees and biking. "Because I am such a crazy person, if I'm viewed as more girlie, that's probably a good thing," she said.

Sara Glassman • 612-673-7177