I put on a shirt yesterday and then took it off immediately. It’s a short-sleeve buttoned poplin shirt from Zara, and the neck is just off somehow. I’d wanted it to be perfect (cropped, dramatically oversized, black: exactly my style) so I’d ignored the obvious neck and shoulder issue when I cut the tags a few months ago. And then I was annoyed at myself for wasting money, and giving in to fast fashion where so many things are shoddy or poorly cut. I thought back over several t-shirts that hadn’t lived up to expectation either, a denim skirt that tore immediately…

I’d already told myself no more Zara, but it’s so tempting every time I see the carefully styled new arrivals. So perfectly on trend, and so often look much more expensive than they are… but also such a constant stream of stuff that isn’t made to last.

But then, I paused and thought through my wardrobe. Must I really swear off Zara, or had I just made one avoidable lapse in judgement?

Really, my track record with Zara is quite good. I looked through my spreadsheet and found a dozen Zara items that have been real winners, many lasting almost a decade, along with just a few duds. The key is that almost everything I own from Zara is well above their average price point, and all of it is premium materials, pure cotton and wool. The cheap t-shirts I’ve bought were relegated to play clothes quickly, except for a mock neck tee that is a perfect dupe for an Acne top I coveted and a layered rib tank top that I bought as true fast fashion, something super trendy that might not last. One inexpensive poplin shirt made the cut because it is the perfect pastel lime green that I looked *everywhere* for, even though it’s not the best construction. But other than that, it was all high quality: ribbed wool leggings that I’d had in my imagination for years, the perfect shirt jacket (in wool fabric from some famous Italian mill), an oversized wool sweater vest with a deep V that’s very 2021 but will probably be a favorite for years. Several dresses: a lightweight knit wool dress that’s the perfect LBD for medium-fancy events, a ruched linen dress with serious Jacquemus vibes, a tailored wool sheath dress with avant garde details that, sadly, doesn’t quite zip over my hips these days…

So, in balance, I don’t think I’ll give up on Zara entirely. It really is the best way to get very current styles for prices I’m willing to pay. And I’m willing to pay for their higher quality things. I guess I'll stick to shopping online for the nicer things as they come out (they’re hard to find in stores anyway). And I won’t be tempted by the cheap, trendy t-shirts because they are really unlikely to fit me right or last. And I’ll really listen to my concerns, like the neck on this shirt that just isn’t quite right… Too bad it would be too expensive to get it tailored!

But I do think that this pandemic year has, oddly, gotten me into a weird trend-chasing habit. I think it’s because I so rarely wear my clothes, and I so rarely see what others are really wearing, so I’m pulling inspiration from browsing online or scrolling Instagram or Who What Wear (…that last one is a habit I’d particularly like to kick). Like, I see online that this year’s boots have thicker lug soles than the boots from two years ago, and suddenly the old ones aren’t right anymore. But when I actually have places to go and to wear clothes, I’m much more content with my existing options, which were all chosen quite carefully over the years!

Edit: Added a photo of the shirt. I decided to wear it for real today. The shoulder shape is obviously intentionally curved, so maybe I can’t call it poor construction, but it still feels odd.

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