I spoke to Stylist Magazine about a new cult classic, that spotty, relaxed-fit, midi £39.99 dress from Zara. The dress is everywhere, so much so that it has its own instagram account @hot4thspot. How does a dress transform from a simple garment into an ‘it-piece’? Social proof and versatility provides the psychological explanation behind this transition.
It is, says fashion psychologist Shakaila Forbes-Bell a prime example of how current trends for women’s fashion revolve around comfort and practicality.
“We’ve moved away from the height of the bodycon era,” Forbes-Bell explains to me. “As a community, we’re realising that comfort and relaxed fit dressing key – it’s got such a large part to play in how we navigate our lives and how well we complete our daily tasks.
There was a 2015 study that found wearing more comfortable clothing impacts your cognitive performance in a positive way but uncomfortable clothing is associated with distraction and cognitive load.”
But comfort alone does not a cultural phenomenon make. That’s where the print and cut come into play.
“The black and white polka dots suit a variety of skin tones,” says Forbes-Bell. “And the cut is very flattering for a wide range of body types. If you see someone similar to you wearing something, it’s easier to envision yourself in it. So if it suits so many people, you’re far more likely to see someone else like you wearing it – and that starts off a cycle of what we call ‘social proof’.”