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Zara dress: What to do when everyone's wearing the same as you

Fashion blogger Olivia in the original white dress next to a picture in a dyed pink version Image copyright ClothesMyBoyfriendHates

It's the dress you've probably seen everywhere this summer - maybe even several times a day.

In fact, a white and black polka dot dress has become such a phenomenon over the last couple of months that an Instagram page has been set up dedicated to sightings of it.

But it seems the design has now got a bit too popular for some.

Owners of the dress have started going to great lengths to disguise the fact they're wearing the same outfit as everyone else.

From cutting it into different styles, to adding alternative accessories or wearing it back-to-front, people are now even dyeing it to make it unrecognisable.

Image copyright Zara
Image caption The dress even has its own Instagram account

So why has this dress become so popular?

It's all about versatility.

"The dress caters for all types of bodies," according to Prof Carolyn Mair, who is the author of The Psychology of Fashion.

"If you're into modest fashion you can wear it loose but it's versatile enough so you can wear a belt with it, you can change your shoes or jewellery to really adapt how the dress looks."

New trend: Customising it

But that versatility has a drawback.

"I was really fed up of wearing a dress that when I went out, I saw someone else in it," says Olivia Jackson - who runs her own fashion blog Clothes My Boyfriend Hates.

"I decided because I still loved the dress, I love the shape of it, I was going to dye it a different colour."

Her white and black dress is now a pink number.

Image copyright ClothesMyBoyfriendHates
Image caption BEFORE
Image copyright ClothesMyBoyfriendHates
Image caption AFTER

But she's not the only one deciding to customise.

A quick browse on social media shows others have dyed theirs bright yellow or dark grey.

Stylist Faye Oakenfull, 28, set up Instagram account @Hot4theSpot dedicated to sightings of the Zara dress about a month ago because she kept seeing it everywhere.

Over 13,000 people already follow the page and now dresses in different colours are cropping up on her grid.

"People are wearing it backwards as well. I've seen people cut the sleeves off. Someone sent me it, they'd cut it into a mini-dress," says Faye.

Uniqueness

Faye explains the reason for the rise in those customising it as people wanting to "make it their own".

Olivia has also seen other people following suit by changing the colours of the dress: "A lot of people have been messaging me saying they've been doing the same thing.

"I think the first one I saw was someone who dyed it khaki green. I've since seen bright purple, lilac, another pink one like mine, yellow, grey - there have been quite a few grey - so quite a few have dyed it."

Prof Carolyn Mair explains people are now tweaking the popular dress because they're wanting to follow fashion but still show they're unique.

"Fashion has a dilemma which on one hand we want to fit in, so this is why we follow fashion, but on the other hand we want to stand out," she explains to Newsbeat. "They can show their own unique style and sense of fashion by adapting it."

Fast fashion

And Olivia points out adapting the dress may be due to environmental issues.

"People are becoming more conscious of fast fashion and not throwing away their clothes. They're trying to do their best to recycle their wardrobe," she says.

Although she's hoping the trend to customise the dress won't take off quite as well as buying it in the first place, because the whole point was to make it unique again.

"I customised mine so I wouldn't see people wearing the same dress as me but I reckon people will," she says.

"It's so easy to do. If they've already got the dress they might want to make sure they're able to wear it without seeing other people in it."

Faye also thinks we're about to see a lot more of this dress with a variety of takes on it as we approach different seasons: "I really like darker ones, someone dyed theirs a dark grey the other day and there's been an olive-y green.

"So it seems like the dress is probably going to stick around."

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