Zara holds a very special place on the British high street. Fashion-forward without being designer, high end without being luxe and covetable without being collectable, they’ve managed to create an identity that appeals to pretty much anyone who’s interested in fashion. They were the ones that created *that* midi dress last summer, which has since seen hundreds of imitations attempting to capitalise on its success, and they were the ones that proved the high street wasn’t failing – it was the other stores that were failing to stay on top of the trends. It may be frustrating to never be able to again find that piece you fell for but never bought (they famously rarely re-stock) but that makes them all the more desirable and one of the most popular shopping destinations in Europe.
It’s long been a go-to for me, with some of my favourite ever fashion pieces being Zara finds; but as I’ve got older (and my waistline has gotten bigger) it’s become even trickier to shop their selections and find pieces that truly work for me. They’re well known for having incomprehensible sizes and the smallest sleeve width known to man, but with a few tricks up your metaphorical sleeve you can still shop Zara with ease – especially if, like me, you’re curvy and over thirty.
I’m all about the stretchy fabrics at the best of times, but in Zara often this is the only way anyone beyond a size ten can wear their clothes. When perusing the shelves I’m instantly drawn to anything stretchy because I know I don’t have to worry about the fabric pulling over my hips or arms; often it means you don’t even need your usual size, as sizing up or down can still provide you with a decent fit. This maxi dress features a stretchy fabric that helps to flatter without sticking to all the wrong places.
Nobody is happy as me to find oversized styles in fashion again, for it means most things are cut with plenty of room for curves. Zara are the king of oversized too, often cutting in so much fabric that I actually have to size down and opt for a medium for fear of the garment overpowering my short stature. I’ve got a few oversized tee style dresses that work incredibly well, as well as a white shirt that I love to pair with skinny jeans – so don’t be fearful of anything that looks like it will make you look bigger, because often it’s the opposite.
One of my biggest bug-bears when it comes to shopping in Zara is that they make their sleeves suited only to elves or teenage children who’ve yet to actually put on any muscle mass. They barely make room for anything beyond bone, so my thirty-something bingo wings certainly aren’t fitting in there. However, statement (or as I like to call them ‘poofy’) sleeves are a real saviour as they by default cut out that problem entirely. The slightly puffy sleeves on this maxi dress make the style all the more flattering and seriously comfortable too, which is not something you’d expect to find in Zara.
Usually it would be suggested that you avoid Zara if you don’t want to feel downtrodden, disheartened and generally disappointed that you can’t fit into the majority of their clothes – but that just means most of us don’t get to experience their high end looks at affordable prices, or to take part in micro-trends that see things like polka dot midi dresses become the hottest piece of the year. If you go in with low expectations, know what to look for and be prepared to completely ignore the size on the tag, then I promise you’ll often come out with numerous pieces that will make you look and feel fabulous.
Who said you couldn’t shop Zara if you’re curvy, plus size or over 30? Not me!
SHOP THE LOOK