Our We Try Before You Buyseries aims to take the stress out of shopping and eliminate the number of post office visits you make each month to return failed online orders. We test new-season buys and styling ideas so you don't have to. Here, we're letting you know what is actually worth investing in.
For the latest instalment, I dragged my colleagues to the nearest Zara to our office for a changing-room try-on session before our first morning coffees. Our pre-work Zara run was like a fashionable Supermarket Sweep, in which we tried on as many of the new autumn pieces as possible without being late for work. We each took a trend that we were most into at Zara.
I went for luxe knitwear, as this autumn, Zara has everything from partywear to work dresses made in cosy fabrics. Alyss is known in our office as the queen of floral dresses, so it took her approximately two minutes to decide her theme. Nell tried on statement dresses, and Joy was drawn to the poplin, tent-like dresses that are becoming a key fashion-insider buy of the year.
As with any of these editor-tested shopping stories, this mission landed us at the tills. Honestly, this franchise really should be renamed We Try Before We Buy. Keep scrolling to see and shop the four autumn trends our editors love.
1. Luxury Knitwear
Knitted Midi Dress
Who What Wear
I'm not normally a fan of knitted dresses, as I find they can lump in the wrong places and be a little unforgiving. However, this fabric feels like it will hold its shape, and the wide neckline and sleeves are really flattering. The only downside to this dress is that you can only wear it with a strapless bra.
I want my luxury knitwear to make me feel like Rosie Huntington Whiteley, and while I might be missing her marble bathroom and the epic wardrobe where she takes her mirror selfies each week, this burgundy two-piece feels like something she might wear. This top is cropped, however, so if you get the waistband of the skirt in the right place, you don't need to show any skin (if that isn't your thing).
This set makes me feel like Diane Keaton in Something's Got to Give—it's loungewear for a Hamptons or Aspen homeowner. I'm not usually a huge fan of a sleeveless roll-neck, but I love how this looks with the long cardigan layered over the top.
"Zara has had plenty of It-dresses over the last six months, and this tiered midi is a beige iteration of the white dress everyone's been losing it over. Even though it's a roomy silhouette like the other smock dresses I tried on, I was surprised at how fitted it was up top, which definitely helped to balance out the proportions. That being said, I probably wouldn't buy it in this shade as it looks a little too similar to my skin tone and hair, but I would definitely consider getting it in black for winter."—Joy Montgomery
"I've come full circle with this Victorian-inspired smock, as it's totally the sort of dress I would've worn at the age of 18 (with Alexa Chung–inspired ballet flats, if you're wondering). Even though these days, it's shorter than most of the dresses in my wardrobe, I'm really enjoying the combination of snakeskin ankle boots and voluminous, thigh-grazing hemline. It's all very Scandi It girl, which is never a bad thing."—Joy
"As someone who isn't usually drawn to colour, I unexpectedly fell in love with this vibrant maxi dress. The fabric was slightly thicker than the other cottony smocks, but in my opinion, this gives it a more dramatic and premium finish (and also makes it look more creased, just FYI). This is great if you're looking for a statement piece for a party. Just add kitten heels and a headband."—Joy
"I like to think of this one as the matador shirt, which is why it's so fabulous. Best tucked into a pair of high-waisted trousers or jeans, this is one you probably want to avoid if you don't want attention drawing to your chest."—Elinor Block
"Confession: I bought this one. I try not to buy too many of one thing, especially when it comes to white shirts, but I couldn't help myself with this. This one I tried on in an XL size, as I knew immediately I wanted it to be oversized. It was so comfortable and the buttons made it ideal to open out if you wanted to wear it almost like a little jacket. It looks great with black trousers, but I'll be wearing this with blue jeans and white boots."—Elinor
"Autumn dresses are in, and this high-necked autumnal floral-print one gets the thumbs up from me. I'd pair this with a chunky knit and knee-high boots when the weather gets colder, and with trainers during this final heatwave."—Alyss
"This skirt-and-top two-piece is so adorable that I almost (almost) purchased it. Why didn't I? While it's super flattering and you can wear it together or as separates, I wish the skirt fell a little longer on the leg and the slit wasn't as high. Aside from that, it's super comfortable and would go with so many things. It gets an 8/10 from me."—Alyss