When middle-aged bank clerk Sheila Woolchapel is sold a strikingly beautiful red dress at a Thames Valley department store during the January sales, it looks like the lonely divorcee has had a rare piece of good luck. The salesperson, Miss Luckmoore, delivers a florid, confusing yet effective sales pitch full of mystery and seductive promise. Saddled with her uncommunicative teenage son, Vince, his vampish, nightmare girlfriend, Gwen, and a thankless job, lonely Sheila’s confidence is boosted by the garment, the fabric of which seems to adapt to fit and flatter whoever wears it. Meanwhile the department store staff perform arcane rituals during closing hours. Despite a visit from Waingel’s Bank’s human resources operatives Stash and Clive, things do seem to be improving for Sheila, at least at first, breaking her run of bad Lonely Hearts dates when she meets Zach. But the dress starts to exact a heavy toll, beginning when Sheila sticks it in her washing machine. The dress proves unreturnable and as Sheila discovers to her great cost, almost impossible to get rid of... The dress’ next hapless owner is washing machine repairman Reg Speaks, who is forced into wearing the frock on his stag night at Zinzan’s nightclub. Reg soon falls prey to the gown’s power, causing him to break the washing machine repairman’s code. His fiancée Babs, also falls under the garb’s influence as the January sales descend into uncontrollable consumer hysteria...
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