The Dress 2: what summer’s hottest item tells us about the eerie fashion standstill

Name: The Dress 2.

Age: New.

Appearance: Remember the Dress?

Which dress? The dress. Remember the Dress?

Why are you talking like this? Is it some sort of code? No. Come on now. Cast your mind back to the summer before coronavirus.

But that was a decade ago! It was 2019.

Oh. Anyway, remember what everyone was wearing then? It was a £40 black-and-white polka-dot midi dress from Zara. Everyone loved it because it somehow managed to be comfortable, flattering and stylish at the same time.

Right, I remember the dress. So that’s what we’re talking about? No. We’re talking about a £45 black-and-white polka-dot midi dress from Marks & Spencer.

Why? Because it’s the dress of the summer! It’s selling out fast.

Is it different to the Zara dress? Yes, of course. Just look at the furore over the caterpillar cake. M&S would need enormous balls to rip off a competitor’s design so shamelessly.

How is it different, then? It has a collar. Admittedly the collar is made of the same material as the dress, and it has the same polka dots. But they’re different, OK?

I don’t understand. Why is everyone buying a dress that’s identical to a dress they already own? Nostalgia.

Pardon? It’s nostalgia. In retrospect, the summer of 2019 was a wonderland. We could all leave our houses whenever we wanted. We could travel abroad. We could see our parents. We could go around licking handrails thinking that the only consequence would be an upset stomach.

Yeah, 2019 was good. And we’ve all spent the past year wearing dressing gowns and cutting our own hair, for crying out loud. It isn’t as if we’re going to celebrate our sudden freedom by getting really into avant garde asymmetrical fashion pieces, is it?

I suppose not. Think of the M&S dress as a stepping stone. It’s comfortable, it’s cheerful and it will hide the months of neglect our bodies have incurred thanks to lockdown. Don’t deprive us of that. We need flattering but bland clothes like we’ve never needed them before.

In that case, I suppose M&S is ultimately doing a good thing. Thank you for understanding.

But, still, why not just wear the Zara dress again? Because this one has a collar! It’s called fashion, mate. Look it up.

Do say: “I can’t wait to wear the Dress 2 outside at a nice event this summer.”

Don’t say: “And then wear it inside again this autumn, in the event of another lockdown.”