For the regular gal with a wardrobe full of high street brands, Zara is the first to come by when there is cash to be spent. For the regular gal with a distinctive style, high street stores are the least desirable ones when it comes to wardrobe enhancement. I have to count myself somewhere in between – I used to shop at Zara, H&M and everything, when I had just discovered them; but in the meanwhile, I’ve redirected my shopping sprees to the kids department, and spent the little spare on online shoe orders (and petty cash on thrift finds). The last time I’ve been to a Zara store was at least one and a half year ago – to be able to say that and to manage a generically-called fashion blog might be suicidal, if we count in the taste (or its lack) of the vast majority of fashion blogs followers, or brilliant, if we were to trust the brave people who’ve said that style doesn’t care about tags.
However, I do the online window-shopping every once in a while, and this almost-past season I have been nearly infatuated with Zara. If we’ve come to expect for the Zara gal to never get out of her faux-sophisticated-wannabe-socialite-drama uniform, these are the most striking signs that show us that she must grow out of those skinny jeans, court shoes (or strappy sandals in summer) and anonymous blazers. If she does not, we don’t mind, because this way we’ll have more goodies to ourselves.
Here’s my final selection of stuff I found attention-worthy – especially that sale season has just begun. Indulge!
Of course, we’re starting off with shoes.
Winter is a particularly creepy season, if you really care for your shoes to be pretty and stay that way, for a while. This is why this time of the year we have to coexist with an awful lot of crappy boots – some which I’d rather not mention right here and now, because the risk of offending someone reading this is overwhelmingly high and because right now I want you to focus on the alternative. The very realistic and yummy alternative.
The first is a pair of 5 inch platform chelsea boots, which have an obvious downside compromising their sleek and versatile look: polyurethane. From my personal experience though, you can count on such shoes on the most rainy autumns. They work with just about everything, save you from the whims of bad weather and make your legs look just the way you’d want them to. And, although if you haven’t walked in a pair of 5 inchers with a steady construction by now, you’d surely distrust me saying this, I have to make it clear: they’re comfortable way beyond expectations.
For women who would mix a bit of whimsy and keep their looks at the height of elegance, a pair of immaculate metallic boots will certainly do. To wear with geometric shaped garments, anything in black & white and anything structured, even wear with a healthy dose of colour. I’d personally try them with glitter tights and a heavy, oversized, asymmetrical herringbone wool dress (I can picture it in my mind, even though you might not).
Next – what better news for the girls who used to wear Doc Martens and those who never got to, but would like to try them out at least once, without compromising their supposedly mature style, than these very boots? Quirky enough to subdue to skinny 20 year-old legs, warmed up in chunky socks, and elegant enough to give a twist to a casual work-day outfits, these boots make one look contemporary without actually looking too flat. And if you consider fashion’s digress from sleekness, shaped up in all sort of ugly, bulky track-boots or the infamous biker boots which invaded stores and streets in the past couple of years, we would very much need to get rid of that flatness.
Speaking of which – “flatform” is a non-word which pumps my blood flow instantly. I first encountered these platform bluchers on one blog I find extreme pleasure in reading. Hence, I figured out something good must be going on at Zara, since they have these. Just as happens with everything over-used, boredom settled in the case of brogues and every hybrid based on them. Adding a platform and toning it down in black leather is the best thing that could happen to a brogue shoe, in order to make it desirable again. Agree?
Of course, even though it is winter, some persons, like me, obviously still need sandals. Some that could be worn with socks and not look inappropriate. Some for Saturday nights and Sunday brunches. These are just those.
Then, if you happen to consider stashing up on biker boots, I beg you – don’t! Enough is enough. Try a pair of cowboy-inspired things. No, not the Cuban heels, God forbid! Enough with them too. Some of us need to learn what it’s like to wear shoes that compliment a nicely shaped leg all over again.
Admittedly, for the divas and vamps in us, there must be a pair of shoes with a very pointed toe and a very slim, very high heel, preferably in a very out-there color. Drop the court shoes in their dusty boxes and choose ones with a twist. These are perfect, if you ask me.
And for the sophisticated prim ladies, a pair of kitten heels is au rigueur. Or if you ever happen to need a shoe that looks proper with a very short dress or a pair of self-sufficient cigarette pants.
The coat issue. We all need at least a new one, every year. Why that may be, I don’t know. It’s complicated.
While green parkas we know all too well, it’s time for a more grown-up one to arrive. The black, fur-lined parka. Perfect in any context, be it dressed up or dressed down.
You know the fashion crowd in September and February, the way they wear their coats on their shoulders? Sure you do. Then, you know that Joseph Altuzarra took that image further and built jackets and coats which can also be worn as capes, leaving their sleeves loose? Of course, Zara had to put it out there, after all, it’s a brand based on copy-paste. And if we can wear pieces of higher inspiration, for less pricey prices (still considerably pricey, if you consider the famously poor quality of most of these Zara pieces), we do wear them.
Then, a Celine (or was it Chloe?) coat, even at considerably less huge dimensions, was on our wishlist for a while now. Why not pretend we almost got it? A tailored coat with eye-catching checks might just make us more at ease.
I, for one, would really, really get this faux-shearling leather jacket, and not just for its shape, short hem and dropped down sleeveline. It’s one of those pieces that will never go wrong (if done right) and out of fashion. An earned must.
I have encountered a number of cases where girls in their 20s were admonished by older persons of the same sex, who had failed to adopt wisdom and good taste along the years. What do you think these women in their 30s and 40s had to critique, as concerns the exponents of the younger generation? Their dresses’ and skirts’ length. Its respective “muchness”.
I didn’t get it then and I further cannot do it now: what is it about a midi that screams “old” or about a floor-length day dress that inspires some to make less polite remarks about convent wear? I also got the advice, more than once, that I should wear more dresses that end up waaay above the knee, regardless of whether I do or do not feel comfortable wearing them. Guess what, I also wear those sometimes, and the outcome is that sooner or later someone hits on me or tries to grab my attention by means of clicheic misogyny. That’s a motivating reward, indeed, let femininity be crowned.
These being said, now you can see why I absolutely recommend you to start wearing some longer lengths. It is inspiring, bold and not an inch too accessible. You will feel classy and feminine, without the anxiety of having to handle the role of seductress, even when you are far from willing to assume it. Good luck!
Also, if you do want to seduce, by leaving plenty to the imagination, here’s how: an elegant slip dress, with delicate lace hems. ‘Tis the season, right?
You may think that you’ve seen a lot of dresses that looked a lot like those of Saint Laurent a/w ‘13, via the new grunge aesthetics that Hedi Slimane has installed. You may be right. But as the original ones were priced as much as 1500 Euros (just a rough estimate) or more, the high street alternatives are more in our range. This one is good to go.
The 60s are never really gone, when it comes to dresses. So whether you’re looking for a day-time shift dress that works with anything or an evening number that keeps things simple, classy and appropriately alluring, the long neck shift dress or the backless black dress cannot be let-downs.
If I were to commit to a temporary avoidance of dresses, I would find consolation in overalls. I’d wear the striped number with high platform boots and a bunch of aggressive necklaces, the black spaghetti strap one, I’d wear either with a silk lamé blazer and sandals with fur details, or with a crisp white shirt underneath, embellished with a garish brooch. Finally, the latter is the most casual of them, and should work with anything.
If you’re reading this, we can suppose you’re a tiny bit curious on the advice I can give you, so take this one seriously: never buy a sweater from Zara unless it’s made only of natural fibers (which should probably never occur). Ok, so you can skip this rule on rare occasions, such as this one, putting you in the awkward position of resisting a bird-print slouch sweater or a backless short one. If you’re not a fan of knits, then you should check out the first – a long neck studio top, made of a rigid mix of tech fabrics. Plastic, but still, interesting.
Trousers. Not jeans. This would be the first recommendation as regards garments that dress your lower body. Think classy pallazzo pants, which you can wear in a relaxed manner, with cozy knits and loose vests, or on weekend nights out, with pointed heels, daring tops and the most intense shade of lipstick you can handle.
Checked trousers are a seasonal hit, it seems, but when it comes to velour track-pants, I’d say you should advance cautiously: one wrong move and you’re likely to look ridiculous, rather than stylish. Please, no more trackpants and stilettos. They’re more than over-the-top.
Denim overalls are one of the “it” items for fashion bloggers, and to be honest, they are hard to pull off the right way, so they deserve some effort. Leather pants (I refuse to use the word “biker” once more! it’s killing me) are more for the Isabel Marant type of girl, but are, once again, worth trying out, for the sake of getting to wear them differently than the iconic French fashion editors do. Which is, in the absence of stiletto pumps, loose shirts and masculine blazers.
The long, sleeveless vest is an item that has haunted me for many seasons now – I never got to buy or make myself one. A powder pink suit, with its shawl collar blazer, is a sure way of grabbing attention, envy and admiration, all at once – just wear it with something better than a lousy tee with a plunging neckline. A long pinstripe blazer with a narrow collar is the safest way to coolness, whatever you choose to do with it.
Finally, skirts. Remember what I said about midis. Try them out, be bold, be brave, fuck everyone who says you look like their grandmas. Reply with: ‘you are more obsolete than my own grandma’. Or smile condescendingly, and walk away.
The skirt in the middle has a long zipper in the middle. This one detail made me drool already, just thinking about how easily that skirt can come off. A treat! You can choose to pair it with whatever else at the top, or with a similarly daring top to that in the picture – which says “date me please”. The message will be so hard to digest, that it will easily break down the possible persons to undo that zipper to none or, best case scenario, to one who shares your twisted sense of humor.
Finally, the skirt with lace trim is an easy way out of moody winters. Just add a huge sweater and chunky overknee socks, pour hot chocolate and cinnamon and you can feel at home anywhere – even at the damn office.
Because I’m getting close to exhausting myself with such a long post (an inclination which I repeatedly try and fail to surpass), I’ll skip right past the accessories section (yes, there was one in plan) and into the men’s department, because I just can’t let go of the possibility of giving you a hint of how cool a combined paisley shirt, worn by a ‘she’, would look. Do yourself a favor and try a men’s shirt, you’ll thank me.
I won’t be online window-shopping for at least two months now. Promise.
*Pictures via zara.com, compiled by the undersigned.