“Garance!!! You’re always talking about Zara, but honestly, everytime I’m there I can’t find anything. I’m wondering if we’re looking in the same stratosphere or if you have any advice for me. You know, so I could find at least ONE thing that I don’t regret having bought after I get home.”
Sarah

Hahahahahaha.

Of course I have some advice. Ok. I’ll admit I have yet to master it but I’ll start by telling you a few things I know about shopping at Zara*… You absolutely must:

1/ Go often.
Zara gets shipments in all the time. I remember the one I went to in Paris got shipments in on Thursdays. So the best thing to do would be stop by every Thursday evening when everything was still there.
All you have to do is ask the sales person and she’ll tell you when the delivery comes to your local Zara.

2/ Identify the collections you like the most.
It’s easy to go often because once you get the hang of it, you’ll be in and out in five minutes, max. As soon as you know exactly where to look – I rarely venture into the back of the store because Trafaluc, the youngest, cheapest, and lowest quality collection isn’t ever what I’m looking for.
I look right at the entrance of the store, that’s where their best stuff always is. If I don’t see anything, I flip a 180 and out I go. That said, you should know to :

3/ Zero in on the best piece.

Here’s the crux of our mini-guide (You can’t see me right now but I’m in front of a black board with my pointer stick in the air, all Professor Calculus like), the Zargrail:

The Piece.

In general, there are a few dozen models of The Piece. It’s rare**. It feels a little like it’s all alone, a little detached from the rest of the shelf. It really seems like it doesn’t go with the rest. It’s just too beautiful. You know you’re going to buy it right away.
Maybe it’s a coat, maybe a bag, a shirt, a sublime pair of pants…
Bring your hand to the fabric and touch it. The material should be refined and you should look at the tag to see what it’s made of. The cut and details are almost perfect.

Uh oh… Wait… Wait… oh, oh, ooooooh!

Aaaaaaooooohhhhh yeahhhh! (Zaragasm)
Attention, attention… Oh, oh, oooooh !

You are right in front of one of the pieces that Zara created exactly for this reason – so when people compliment you they’ll say “No way you got that at Zara!!!” They probably don’t make any money off it but it’s there just to get us addicted and make us go every single week.

Sometimes the price of these are a little higher than usual. But I’m telling you, it won’t be there in three hours. Buy it and don’t look back.

4/ Attention!!!

The thing not to do is to get super excited about pieces that look just like something you saw somewhere else. Of course your piece might be perfect with the trends of the season, but I’m telling you to get away (In general, that’s what you should do. Sometimes I do need to get it though. I’ll put together a post explaining all this later!) from pieces that are a little too “inspired by…”

If it looks too much like Marant, Céline, or Valentino, just to name a few, step away.
If nothing more, out of respect for the designers.
But also because wearing a copy doesn’t send the best message I think, even if it’s just to ourselves.
And because two shelves away you can find something more original and less obvious.

5/ Good ideas to hold onto:

At Zara, I’m a serial buyer of :
Their jeans, even if I wish they would have a slightly higher waist because I’m getting tired of flashing everyone whenever I need to bend over and pick something up.

My t-shirts, and a few ballet flats, when the ones I have are on their last leg.

Their jackets and pants can be really beautiful. You just have to check what their made of on the tag. I don’t know much about materials (Géraldine just did a great post on it if you want to give it a read), so I trust what my fingers tell me.
Two of my best coats came from Zara.

Finally, they usually have awesome scarves, in totally original prints and sublime materials. I always wear this scarf, for example. People always ask me where I found it.
That said, I’m not a big fan of their sweaters. Even when they’re made of cashmere, they don’t hold up.

There goes my Zara guide!
I think everyone has a somewhat different approach. I know some people do a lot online and I just don’t get how they do it. I need to touch the material or I just won’t click buy. But people do it different in person too! How do you approach Zara? And outside of Zara, who has good stuff for a good price?

———

* In your comments on 9 to 5, a lot of you told me how much you love surprising people when you tell them you’re wearing Zara.

** Which brings us back to our recent conversation about luxury items. Mmmmm, elementary my dear Watson.

Translation: Tim Sullivan