Belfast Telegraph

How a £40 dress from Zara conquered the high street

It was the item for fashionistas and an Instagram account was even created in its honour. Sarah Tulloch, who joined the spotty frock crew, reveals just why it was so special - and how a new version has now been created for autumn

Spot the difference: Sarah Tulloch in the famous Zara dress
The new version hitting stores for the autumn/winter season
Sarah Tulloch

By Sarah Tulloch

The Zara dress really needs no introduction. But if you've been finding shade this summer under a rock, you might have missed the spotty frock that was front and centre in the wardrobe of your wife, sister, mum and granny this season.

Flowing, with sleeves that fall below the elbow, featuring a round neck and ruffled hem ... even if it still doesn't ring a bell, if you've stepped outside at all in the last few months, you'll have been in proximity of the dress.

As its popularity grew, pictures swiftly emerged of two, three, sometimes four women all wearing the dress sitting metres apart in various establishments and it soon became a viral online meme.

Sure, its 'basic-ness' makes it easy to mock, but the fact that one £39.99 dress became a favourite for women of all shapes and sizes says a lot about it.

But why did the high street garment fly so rapidly off the shelves?

The black and white polka-dot uniform looks good on everyone. It works as a maxi dress on shorter girls, a midi on those with a bit more leg and hangs perfectly off women with and without curves. A floaty masterpiece that doesn't hang off our bodies like a sack? Jackpot.

The versatility of the dress undoubtedly played a part in its nationwide takeover. Classic leather jackets have been branded the garment's BFF and can be paired with chunky boots to give it a more grungy feel, but if your personal style is more feminine, teaming the dress with sandals, a cardigan and a belt to cinch in your waist is the perfect ensemble.

The much-loved spotty dress even had an Instagram account dedicated to it. Titled 'Hot 4 The Spot' (@hot4thespot), the account is a self-titled 'sisterhood movement', an online space to unite the thousands of dress owners across the world.

With this, we bid farewell to the days when you would be mortified to walk into a venue and find another woman clad in the same garb. Now, it's as though we're in our own club.

Fashionista comrades who have all discovered a high street bargain that makes them look and feel the part refreshingly exchange knowing nods and smiles in lieu of side-eyes.

The dress first caught my eye back in May when I spied a couple of fashion influencers styling it on social media. Initially, I hemmed and hawed over making the purchase but, several weeks later, I was still thinking about the dress.

Every keen shopper knows what that means - go back and buy it.

Never one to give in to hype, had I known it would become so popular, truthfully, I'm not sure I would have bought it. But I have no regrets. It's the perfect throw-on piece, relaxed and comfortable enough for summer BBQs but still polished enough for the office.

And good news for fellow fans of the spotty Zara dress: the retailer has just released new styles for autumn/winter, featuring one with inverted colours - black with white spots - and a blue version, sans spots, replaced with a geometric-style print.

As autumn looms and we swap lightweight frocks for woolly knits, Hot 4 The Spot officially declared August 22 'Wear The Dress Day', with owners being encouraged to wear the dress in solidarity and to raise awareness and money for Free Periods, a charity campaigning to end period poverty and make sure girls in schools and colleges have free access to sanitary products across the UK.

So, women in offices, pubs, cinemas and even weddings across the UK donned The Zara Dress, and all for a good cause.

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