Zara Haul Try-On & Review
I have been a Zara hater for a very long time. My general qualm with Zara has always been that their prices are completely unjustifiable. For the price you spend at Zara, I always argued that you could do just as well at a better price between Uniqlo (for basics), H&M, J. Crew Factory, Banana, GAP and (now) Primark. Those companies’ prices are much more fair and actually (generally) reflect the quality you receive. The one solid argument that my wife and her friends have made to me in favor of Zara, though, is that Zara has a much more stylish variety for women and kids than all of the other brands. So, even though they are overpriced, it’s still worth it as many of the items you simply cannot get elsewhere — and that is what you are truly paying for. It’s a good argument, though I never quite accepted it. That is, until now.
My opinion has completely changed. After trying on over 50 items, and reviewing the ones you see below, I’m now a hesitant Zara enthusiast. Yes, Zara prices are usually unjustifiably high. And yes, for many items you can do much better elsewhere. But if you only shop Zara’s sales (like I did for this haul), holy hell can you find some great fitting and stylish stuff at a fair price. Zara, you have earned me back. And folks, the sale is still happening in stores and online, so definitely check it out (at the very least).
Okay, on to the good stuff. What did I try on?
(Note: I am 6’1 tall, 190 lbs and I usually wear a size M and a 34/30 pant, and unless I explicitly state otherwise, everything I tried on was labeled as a “slim fit.”)
Black Side Zip Sweater: Apologies, but I literally can’t find the link to this sweater on Zara’s website. My assumption is that they currently only carry it in store, but it’s also quite possible that this item is buried somewhere on the (not so great) website. Either way, as you can see in this picture, it’s a really nice sweater. I tried it on in their large and medium sizes and the large size fit me pretty perfectly. As you will see throughout this review, Zara’s sizing is wildly inconsistent for different items. I’m usually an M in almost every store, and I’m occasionally an L for really tight-fitting clothing. With Zara’s clothing, sometimes I’m an M, more often an L, and sometimes even XL. Okay, back to this sweater. My two issues with it were: (1) the armholes were just too large for me on the L size; and (2) I am just not sold on the side zipper style. It’s different and definitely still nice-looking. But I personally just don’t see the point of having it, nor do I love the style. For me, these two things made me put the sweater back on the shelf.
Checked Heathered Shirt: For starters, this shirt is on sale for $25.99. That’s a pretty solid price for a nice business casual shirt, and this shirt is technically perfect for a business casual event as long as you feel comfortable keeping your shirt untucked. We at The Peak Lapel are not in love with the untucked shirt style, but it certainly can work for many stylish dressers. If you are one of them, then definitely pick up this shirt. In terms of fit, the M and L fits were both too tight on my chest and stomach, so I opted for the XL. As you can see in the picture, it fits pretty well, with only slightly extra room around the chest area and armholes. The shirt is 100% cotton and made in Vietnam. The quality is exactly as expected—not great. All in all, this shirt is good enough that I possibly may keep it as my sole “untucked” shirt, but I think it will likely head back to the store tomorrow. I need another day to think about it.
Black Leather Plimsoll Shoes: As you may know from my prior shoe reviews, I have a hard time finding sneakers and shoes that fit me well. I am usually a size 11E shoe, which is a significantly wider shoe size than the typical size 11. Well, much to my surprise, this size 11 shoe fit me perfectly! In fact, almost all of the shoes I tried on at Zara that were size 11 fit me really well. I literally never find shoes that fit so perfectly other than at Allen Edmonds. So I got pretty excited. These shoes were on sale from $70 to $30. Could I resist? Of course not! Now, these shoes are very different than a typical shoe, and frankly that’s what drew me to them. The black leather top with the caramel colored soles matches well with almost every casual outfit that I have. Plus, the no-laces slip-on makes it even more appealing. The upper is 60% cow leather and 40% polyester, and the sole is 100% polyurethane, which is definitely lower quality than real leather. Bottom line, this is certainly not a high quality shoe that will last you more than one season. BUT at $30, this is a steal. Rock it for 20-30 wears over one season and feel great. No one else will be wearing these kicks. Don’t buy your Starbucks coffee for 3 days and buy these shoes instead. It’s a solid deal!
Skinny Fit Chino Trousers: Okay. “Skinny fit” seems to only be marginally slimmer than Zara’s “slim fit.” The extra slimness really shows up in the crotch and seat area, and in the bottom leg opening. These pants are made out of 97% cotton and 3% elastane. The elastane really allows the waist some room, even though the rest of the pants are almost like wearing leggings. This fit was even tighter than the slim fit jeans I review below, and they are also slimmer than J. Crew 484’s. These pants are definitely not high enough quality to go in the “great” category below, but they are good enough at $25.99 to go in the “good” category here. I was definitely considering returning these pants, but my wife loves them, so they shall be kept. Happy wife, happy life.
Jacquard Velvet Blue Blazer: God, I loved this blazer. Initially, I was pretty sad that the only blazer they had left was too small on me, as you can see in the picture. But goddamn this blazer is HOT in navy blue. But then I looked at the price tag. It was on sale from $109 to $69.99. That got me pissed. Yes, the jacket looks great. But it’s also super cheap quality and I’m 100% positive I can find a MUCH better-quality blazer for the same price at one of the other brands I mentioned at the beginning of the article. In fact, I am often able to get a very high quality and stylish blazer from a Nordstrom sale at around this same price! This is the type I thing that makes me angry at Zara and reminded me of my old gripes. Arggh! (Also, another gripe: it’s got a notched lapel. Like we often say here at The Peak Lapel, “notched is always one notch behind its peak”.)
Basic Collection Slim Fit Trousers: (That link isn't the exact pants, but it’s the same exact collection/style/fit.) These pants are nice looking on the website and in person. But it all goes south once you try them on. The fit is okay from the front, but it’s terrible in the back. The seat of the pants has way too much room and it really throws off the whole pant. Also, the waist size is totally mismatched with the rest of the pant. A size 32 waist was the right fit for me on this one, but then the leg pant was too short. The pants are made of 67% polyester, 34% viscose, and 3% elastane. That 3% elastane definitely does its job and gives the pants a great elasticity. But otherwise the pants are super cheap quality and not even worth the $29.99 sale price. These are going right back to the store.
Navy Blue Leather Boots: I have never, ever, ever put on a pair of boots that fit me as well as these. Like I said above, I’m usually a pretty difficult shoe fit. Not so here. These boots were made for my feet. For that reason alone, I would’ve paid the full price for these shoes ($99.90). But they were on sale for $69.99. Goddamn. These shoes are certainly not Allen Edmond’s quality, but they are worth every dollar. The sole is thermoplastic rubber, which gives you a pretty solid cushion when you walk. The upper is cow leather, and the lining is 50% cotton and 50% polyester. Listen, this is definitely where Zara is doing things cheaply. But still, this is an amazing price for a really sexy-looking shoe. I’m 100% keeping these.
Stretch Comfort Dress Shirt: We have reviewed the most comfortable shirt that Banana Republic makes, and the comfort dress shirt from Ministry of Supply, but this stretch dress shirt from Zara is in a league of its own. Why? Because (1) it costs $19.99 right now; (2) it’s super comfortable, and (3) it 100% looks super dressy (much more so than MOS) and can be worn in a business setting. For $19.99, need I say more?
Slim Fit Jeans: For $25.99 these jeans are well worth it. They fit almost exactly like the J. Crew 484 fit pants do. I didn’t take the time to measure these pants, but I’d bet $100 that the thigh, calf, and leg opening are within a .5 of an inch of the J. Crew 484’s. These are super-slim fit and if you like a really snug fit, then you will love these pants. Personally, I usually like to have a bit more room in my pants to let my legs breath. But my wife loves when I wear the J. Crew 484’s, and naturally she loved these too. These pants are 98% cotton and 2% elastane. The 34” waist is a bit loose on me, which is strange since the legs of the pants are perfectly fitted. Bottom line, are they super high quality? Absolutely not. But they are decent quality and may even last me two seasons. For $25.99, I’ll keep it and put it in the “great” category.
When shopping at Zara, you should definitely be patient and wait for some great sales. You also should pay close attention to fit, since it varies for each item. Zara is the sort of store where ordering online is an utter crapshoot. You really need to go in stores and try things on and see for yourself how each item fits. Bottom line, though, is that their variety is indeed impressive. You can literally scroll through their website or walk through the store and find tons of options for each piece of clothing. It’s definitely not high-quality stuff, and for some items I would still recommend you look elsewhere. But there are many stylish bargains to be found at Zara, so don’t write them off entirely, as I used to do. They’re back on my list of “must check out” fast-fashion stores for 2018.