Ouai x Byredo is back with more scented haircare
Ouai x Byredo is back with more scented haircare

Holly O'Neill

This recently renovated Ranelagh home is on the market for €1.25 million
This recently renovated Ranelagh home is on the market for €1.25 million

Megan Burns

Considering getting hitched at home? Two couples on their at-home weddings
Considering getting hitched at home? Two couples on their at-home weddings

Lizzie Gore-Grimes

With soon-to-be-three salons, a beauty brand and a little one at home, Kate Verling of Mink Hand and Foot Spa on mastering multitasking
With soon-to-be-three salons, a beauty brand and a little one at home, Kate Verling of...

Lauren Heskin

Organising a hen party? These are the 18 essential dos and don’ts for bridesmaids
Organising a hen party? These are the 18 essential dos and don’ts for bridesmaids

Geraldine Carton

Travelling with kids: what you need to know before going away this summer
Travelling with kids: what you need to know before going away this summer

Sarah Finnan

Try this crispy elderflower cocktail this bank holiday weekend
Try this crispy elderflower cocktail this bank holiday weekend

Holly O'Neill

What to do when your boss is a bully
What to do when your boss is a bully

Colette Sexton

Filming has begun on the TV adaptation of Graham Norton’s debut novel down in West Cork
Filming has begun on the TV adaptation of Graham Norton’s debut novel down in West...

Sarah Finnan

8 engrossing Netflix picks worth starting this long weekend
8 engrossing Netflix picks worth starting this long weekend

Jennifer McShane

Image / Fashion

‘For all ages and sizes’: In defence of the Zara polka dot dress


by Holly O'Neill
18th Jul 2019
blank

Urgent high street request: more sleeves. Here Holly O’Neill writes in defence of ~that~ Zara dress.


I am a 26-year-old beauty editor and most of my week involves working from the office, meetings with beauty brands, filming last-minute videos and rushing for public transport, which means that I like to wear clothes that are comfortable and cool. 

I don’t want to wear the lurid neon frontless, backless, sideless clothing of Love Island nor the frilly bandeau tops that I can’t wear a jacket over or sit down in. I don’t want to wear Spanx to a morning meeting and I can’t get a bra under the print summer wrap dresses that everyone ripped off from Réalisation Par. And goddammit I just want sleeves. Why does every high street clothing store underestimate how much women want sleeves? To cover tan that has started to look like Tiger bread, or the (sad but true) least favourite part of most women’s bodies – their arms. 

So when I met The Dress, I knew it would cover all my basic needs; high enough on the neck that I don’t need to worry about an industrial-strength bra to hold in my boobs, glorious sleeves without frills that will fit under a jacket, finishing low enough on the shin that if my tan needs a scrub or I haven’t scheduled a shave I don’t need to worry about flashing too much leg.

The Dress is a whole outfit in itself that only requires the most basic level of styling; it’s casual enough that I can wear a leather jacket and white runners and look styled, chic enough that a blazer will dress it up. A suits-all print – white with black polka dots – not shouty but not boring either – with a simple frill detail at the bottom that it can handle a fancy blow-dry or distract from a last-minute, pulled-back chignon, boosted with red lipstick.

Related: 15 pieces we love in the new Zara collection

This dress could take me from the airport to an important meeting to an evening event to a Christening to feck-I-slept-through-the-alarm-what-the-hell-can-I-throw-on and still make me feel stylish. Even better, it’s comfortable and doesn’t make me body-conscious – stylish and comfortable are two things often mutually exclusive. 

This is an eating dress too: loose around the middle with enough fabric to accommodate many Aperol Spritzes at drinks and many burgers at a barbeque. It doesn’t cost your monthly mortgage repayment and best of all, it doesn’t need dry cleaning – it doesn’t even need ironing.  

So when six other people in the office all wore it, styled in various ways, we all laughed about ‘the IMAGE dress’ and took note of each others’ clever styling tricks – IMAGE office manager Hannah Hillyer wears hers with red lipstick and heeled black espadrilles, IMAGE events and branded content executive Ciara Hanrahan wears hers with backless loafers. I like to wear mine with Stan Smiths and when rain threatens I throw over a beloved black River Island blazer with pearl buttons that is so worn the lining is torn on the inside. 

The backlash

Team IMAGE ticked along happily in our perfectly cool and comfortable dresses until the rest of the world decided to rain on our parade. First, it started with Stylist – a thinkpiece that took The Dress out of our office and handed it over to the mercy of the Internet. Our beloved Zara dress took blow after blow until it started to appear less and less in IMAGE HQ. 

Ciara Cosgrove, IMAGE events and partnerships director, suggested we do a piece on IMAGE.ie about how we all respectively style our dresses and I shuddered at the thought of shouting into the Internet that I had joined the brigade of basics in the dress that has its own Instagram following of 11K.

The backlash followed me everywhere online: “I just don’t understand the obsession – the dress is shapeless and hideous on everyone” and other such hot takes. I knew it had really hit the mainstream when my boyfriend said it to me: “look how many times this person on Instagram has photographed that dress you have in one day!”

So as The Law of the thinkpiece goes, we’ve had The Backlash and here I am, ready to instigate phase two: The Backlash to The Backlash. 

In defence of The Dress

I’m bored of the snideness and the snobbery. I see the dress as regularly as you do, but this is what I see: women of all ages and sizes wearing the same dress. A dress that has flown off shelves based on how flattering it is to all. A dress that doesn’t dig in, a dress that everyone who owns can’t stop singing the praises of.

I’m bored with the “I prefer vintage” opinions and the “I like to spend more on something you won’t see every second person on the street wearing” people. Congratulations, we’re all very happy for you that you’re “not like other girls.”

Zara printed dress, €49.95

Rixo has a very similar option to The Dress and I must have missed the same level of snideness when everyone wore their blue daisy print Rixo Monet dress to every event last year. Or, as IMAGE contributing editor Melanie Morris put it when I spoke to her about The Dress in a meeting on Monday, “If this was a Saint Laurent bag nobody would be saying anything.”

Rixo Agyness Polka Dot Dress, €340

As far as I’m concerned, the only thing The Dress is missing is pockets. Leave me and my happy dress alone, we’ll be over here looking cool and eating another burger at the barbeque while you fret if an olive will be the straw that breaks the Spanx’s lining.

Stay tuned on IMAGE.ie tomorrow when team IMAGE will show you how we style The Dress.

Photography by @hot4thespot.


Read more: Stores filled with what’s trending on social media: is this the future of shopping?

Read more: If your style is a bit boyish, you’ll love this drop of masculine-inspired pieces

Read more: Why pay €650 for designer flip flops when you can get these five styles instead?

Also Read

H&M x Toga
FASHION, SHOPPING
Everything to know about the H&M x Toga Archives collaboration

Toga is the latest to join the H&M roster of designer collaborations.Fresh off the back of the Brock collection collaboration,...

By Holly O'Neill

blank
premium HEALTH & WELLNESS, FASHION
I don’t know who needs to read this, but wear the damn shorts

Gillian Roddy posted a photo of herself in her “shorts normally reserved for the privacy of the garden” because she...

By Gillian Roddie

blank
FASHION, SHOPPING
Six ways to style your denim this spring

Long-awaited brighter days call for a refresh of our perennial favourite – denim. As we head out into the spring sunshine, our mood this season is ready to play, with sporty silhouettes and a relaxed vibe.

By Holly O'Neill

outfit
FASHION, SHOPPING
This chic, minimal outfit formula is all over Instagram

It’s a spring outfit of perfection but the separates will last for seasons to come. Waist down dressing is returning,...

By Holly O'Neill

summer trends
FASHION, SHOPPING
5 summer trends to wear now even though it’s freezing

It may still feel like winter, but these are the five summer trends you don’t need to wait to wear.Summer...

By Holly O'Neill

Georgiana Huddart
premium FASHION
How to revive a heritage brand, and create cute swimwear to coordinate with your kids

Georgiana Huddart revived heritage brand Hunza G with huge success, and we’re guessing the children’s range is headed in the...

By Sarah Macken

Victoria Beckham
FASHION
This is why Victoria Beckham is cutting her prices by 40%

Victoria Beckham is about to get a lot cheaper, as Vb is looking to “future-proof” her brand by reducing the...

By Holly O'Neill