For the longest time, Zara was my default shop—the place I could stroll into, confident I would find something to take home with me. Admittedly, I still browse and buy from Zara—it remains one of my preferred high-street spots—but not with the same fervour that I once used to. I put this down to a few things. Yes, the pandemic is one of them (I live in Scotland, and it's only just this week that fitting rooms have reopened—something that has deterred many shoppers from venturing out). The other? I spend more cautiously. I'm just not as hung up on having something "new" anymore.
Perhaps contrary to the consensus, I actually have more willpower shopping online compared to bricks-and-mortar stores. The urgency doesn't seem quite as intense virtually as it does when you realise there's only one left in your size of the piece you're eyeing up on the shop floor. Still, when the Who What Wear team toyed with the idea of doing real-life try-ons of our favourite high-street stores, I felt a jolt of excitement, and I was immediately keen to see what Zara was serving up for spring and if anything in-store would pique my interest.
Spoiler: I made a beeline for this beautiful Zara dress.
For the try-on, I headed straight to Edinburgh's St. James Quarter, home to one of the biggest Zara stores in the UK. The shopping centre itself has had a recent facelift—one five years in the making—and the Zara store is an entirely new entity within it. It's beautiful. Get there early enough, and it looks more akin to a gallery space than a shop floor.
I was immediately struck by the colour upon entering. So much colour! Saturated shades as far as the eye could see, an excessive amount of which were green. Great if that’s what you’re into, intimidating if it’s not. As someone who usually sticks to a palette of neutrals, I wondered if I had made a mistake in choosing Zara for my try-on. However, as I navigated through a maze of neon, more trends became present. From key items such as leather blazers to overall aesthetics pinpointed in our trend report, such as low-key luxury, Zara is a spring-trend treasure trove. But how would my favourite pieces translate on me, a 5'3" girl with an hourglass figure who is a true size 12? Let's find out…
1. LEATHER BLAZERS
As I said, there was a hefty amount of green in Zara, which shouldn’t come as a surprise considering it’s one of 2022’s biggest colour trends. Although the ultra-bright shades don’t appeal to me personally, I did want to see if there was a way I could work it into my wares that felt authentic to my style. Cue this faux-leather blazer.
Although I would ordinarily opt for black, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved this blazer. The material looked expensive (not too shiny, nor too matte) and the colour was actually very easy to style—even with bright-blue jeans, it didn’t feel like it was too much. Speaking of jeans, I was also keen to try the Marine jeans—the style Zara seems to be backing most for spring. Although I always have to size up in Zara trousers (who’s with me?), I managed to squeeze into a size 12. On me, they sit below the ankle and felt more kick-flare than straight, but they are incredibly stretchy and comfy. It’s worth noting, however, that they don’t have front pockets—something I learnt the hard way when I went to put my phone in one, and it smashed to the floor.
2. FRESH WHITE DRESSES
Ask anyone who knows me, and they'll tell you I have a thing for white dresses—they’re all I wear in the summer months and, try as I may, they’re my biggest shopping weakness. I saw this midi style with a pleated bodice and puffed sleeves from a distance and practically sprinted towards it.
Am I a fan? Yes, but I was put off my the sizing. In all fairness, I have a 32G bra size, so larger than your average, but while a lot of Zara tops fit me in a medium, I always have to go up a size in any dress with shape from the brand. This is frustrating when the dress fits me perfectly everywhere else, and I always hate unnecessarily sizing up, as it depletes stock for others. However, I think most of my friends with smaller busts would also struggle to zip this up. I really wish Zara would have more representative sizing to match its beautiful designs. To make it more seasonally appropriate, I added a pretty pink coat over top. Honestly, I couldn’t believe it when I saw the price tag…
3. LOW-KEY LUXURY
As outlined in our spring/summer fashion report, low-key luxury is one of the season’s overarching trends, and Zara is just as dedicated to it as it is saturated shades. I saw three women walk up to this knit and take it to the fitting room, and upon closer inspection, I can see why. On the thicker side with wide sleeves that hang just so and a cool zip-up neckline, it looks more premium than other Zara knitwear pieces I tried on.
Zara trousers are my nemesis. I know I’m on the short side, but even with high heels on, these were super long. Puddle trousers might be in, but this seems excessive. That said, I’m sure tall girls appreciate it, so if it means I have to have my pairs tailored, so be it. I opted for a large in them, as they were a little tight across my thighs in the medium, and I like how they sit having done so. Still, it would be nice to see more inclusive sizing options from the brand in the future.
I really fell for this canvas bag, which just to happens to be another key trend for spring. Zara clearly knows this and has used this stripe fabric in three bag shapes. It feels very Riviera chic, which is an aesthetic I can absolutely get on board with. I don’t have the budget for designer bags—most of my arm candy comes from the high street—and while I didn’t leave with it, it has made its way into my wish list.
I’m not a trouser person, but I’m trying to get into them—on paper, these seem like the perfect pair. The colour is gorgeous, and the cut looks sleek. Although I’ve made my peace with Zara’s sizing and having to size up in most trouser and dress styles, not everyone has the opportunity to do that.
4. STATEMENT OUTERWEAR
if there’s one thing I think Zara does well—perhaps better than other affordable shopping hot spots—it’s coats, and this one made me do a double take. It’s by no means cheap—£159 for an unlined coat might raise an eyebrow or two—but the palm-leaf embellishment is breathtaking.
With a coat like this, you needn’t think too much of your outfit underneath—the beading can and should remain the focal point of your look.
5. ELEVATED COLOUR COMBOS
I don’t own a lot of brown clothes, but this is something I’m looking to rectify this year, as some the chicest pieces I've seen come in variations of the shade. Namely this blazer, which, although I didn’t buy on the day, I keep finding myself coming back to on the Zara website. I hastily picked up this teal skirt to wear with it in it the fitting room but found myself really into the pairing when I put it on.
Admittedly, my phone camera doesn’t do it justice, but if you’re looking for a high-end colour combination to try, chocolate brown and teal is the one. I kept the rest of my outfit neutral—a cream knit was all I needed to keep the attention on the blazer and skirt. I also like how the blazer has black buttons, which will match the majority of my accessories.