How to shop Zara as a plus size woman…(and a try on)

Zara…. oh, Zara. I don’t actually know where to start with you. It’s been a rocky old ride. It took you years to recognise that women of all sizes would like to wear your clothes, and your answer was simply to carry up to an XXL. And let’s just be honest here, people. An XXL in Zara doesn’t fit some of my friends that are a size 10! Zara isn’t for everyone. That’s a sad reality. It’s friendly to people that are thin. But, like I said, even those that are thin have their problems shopping this brand. So why do we all go back and keep hoping and trying that each new season will bring a more forgiving fit? Well, we do it because they are, quite simply, the most stylish retailer on the high street. There’s no getting away from it. They know what they are doing. They create fast fashion that looks chic as heck and they do it at a price point which makes it accessible to a much wider group of people out there looking for a beautiful bargain. But wait… let’s not discount this retailer entirely. I have been shopping Zara for years, and the introduction of their XXL size has made things easier and expanded the amount of clothing I can wear from them at a size 18 woman! It’s high time I stood up and let you in on my secrets for shopping the brand as a plus size woman. So, here we go, the plus size guide to shopping Zara and a try on with new spring summer product at the end.

1.This hint is the most obvious one… you have to try everything on… everything!

There is no exception to this rule. Every single thing you want to buy from Zara needs to have a fit test. Even if you are buying the same exact thing in a different colour. I’m starting to think they just throw a dart at a board to decide what size to put in garments. It’s ridiculous. So, you have to do the time here. You have to put your legs, arms, hips and everything else, into every garment. I know oh so many people that have bought four colours in one dress or other garment and hung them in the closet, only to eventually put one on and go, “wait, what… why don’t you fit me like the pink one?”

2. Oversized is your best size

The models on the Zara website are not always the best guide to helping you figure out whether or not a piece will fit. One friend online wrote to me and said that Zara’s idea of oversized is often just using an undersized model to showcase a regular size dress. Truth. But, looking online and seeing something that looks almost like a tent on a small model is a good indicator that you’ll have some extra room in the garment. This spring summer, they have a massive collection of house dresses that seem to have no size at all. They are beautiful, comfortable and make you feel like you’re living the dream Provence life. Again, this might seem obvious, but I’m putting it out there.

3. Trousers will only work with no zipper and a big elastic band

If a Zara trouser has a zipper, I can’t fit into it. End of. I’ve never bought a zippered trouser from Zara. What I have bought are some fantastic elasticated band wide leg trousers. In fact, last year I bought one pair in five different colours and they remain, to this day, my favourite purchase from 2019. Wide leg and elasticated… that’s the trick. Saying that…. I tried on some trousers (you’ll see below) that made me look like I was wrestling a lilac bush and they had all the things I look for in a Zara trouser yet still were an absolute bear to get on. I revert to trick one… try everything on! Generally, though, you will find that the elasticated band, wide legged, trousers are your best friend if you are shopping for a bigger booty like mine.

4. Don’t bother with button down shirts unless they have puff sleeves and stretch fabric or are widely oversized

Zara and shirts…. my first thought is “don’t bother.” They are misery aren’t they? The arm test is a favourite of mine. If I can get my arms into Zara shirts, I almost always find it impossible to cross my arms in the garment without the fear of ripping out the shoulders entirely. I would say this is the number one complaint I hear about Zara…. arm holes. Do they think we are all stickwomen with no fat or muscle on our arms? Wake up, Zara! We are women with arms….functional arms! But, I do buy the odd shirt and it’s almost always an oversized shirt or a shirt that has puff sleeves and stretch fabric. Even then, the boobs come into consideration. What? Women have boobs? Well, ok not all of us do. We come in a lot of shapes and sizes, hence the reason for making things in different sizes. In the Zara dream world, boobs come in one size, it would seem…. a B cup or smaller. There is the occasional hiccup in design that allows larger breasts to slip in… and that’s when I’m there, telling you to grab it before Zara realise their negligence 🙂

5. Knitwear is always a go!

The knitwear at Zara is the biggest surprise for many. I think so many place bets on it not working that they don’t even try. Zara knitwear stretches like a beauty. I’ve often bought things in a size large and been entirely fine. My only complaint would be that their cropped knit pieces are so cropped that my boobs are constantly playing peek-a-boo as the sweater crops up. Not a good look for a 40 year old woman. Oh who am I kidding? It’s not a good look for any woman. Keep the boobs in your shirt, ladies, while out and about. Under boob, not a good look, not a good look at all. But, please don’t ignore the knitwear! It works for all body shapes and sizes and is so often oversized (truly oversized) anyway! Try, try, try!

6. Don’t hate me… but the accessories!

I say this so carefully because I have been on way too many shoots where I’m too big for the clothing so the brand decides I’m their new accessories model. It’s embarrassing and deflating. It’s just plain horrible, actually. I feel all too often brands will say, “we don’t carry plus size, but we have great accessories.” I don’t want to be the person saying that, but I realise that is what this is going to sound like. Zara has killer accessories. There, I said it. Please don’t hate me. Before I could fit into much, my Zara experience was all about the accessories. Jewellery and bags… I had so many from Zara. They were cool, they were trendy, they were inexpensive. I loved them. Ugh, I feel a bit sick telling you to buy the accessories. But, I do believe a great earring can be just as transformative for a look as a great dress or pair of trousers. So I’m taking a risk and just saying this out loud. Check out their accessories. They’re good, really good. Ok, swiftly moving on.

7. And don’t forget the belts!!!!

You know I love a belt. Adore a belt, in fact. And I have my fair share of Zara belts. None of them are hip belts….all are waist belts. I call them my waist jewellery. They jazz up any outfit and they are comfortable as heck….because they are stretch! Yes, Zara belts have a heck of a lot of stretch in them, for the most part. Again, this is something you can see when picking up in the belt in store, or can read about in the item description online. Embrace the stretchy belts! They are well worth your money!

8. Move to Men’s

Alright, now that we’ve covered the women’s and how to shop, let’s talk another department…. men’s. Now, plus sized ladies, you are going to be hard pressed to find trousers that will fit you in the men’s department. They cut for men with hips so narrow I’m surprised they have room for their bits! Sorry, if that’s too much info. Just to say, leave it. But, what you can pick up are some awesome shirts, knits and jackets. The jackets are cut for bigger man arms. You know, because men are supposed to be muscley and big and women aren’t. What a joke. Even some of the sweatshirts and sweatpants are cool as all get out in the men’s department. Basically, don’t ignore this section. You can get some pretty cool stuff on this floor that you might have never thought of checking out before. Did not mean for that to rhyme there.

Alright, those are your tips. Now, let’s put them into play with the new season and see how we get on! Here are eight finds at Zara, some that worked and others I couldn’t send back fast enough. To see them all in action, head over to Instagram Stories. Unless otherwise stated, I am wearing the largest size in each garment.

Look One:

Knotted T-Shirt 

Size Small-Large

£5.99

Pleated Palazzo Trousers

Size Small- XXL

£25.99

Thought this would be a cute look. The shirt was a gamble. Only up to a large… it was never going to work was it? The trousers look amazing here, but they were a struggle to get into. And at one point I didn’t think I’d be able to get them off. Dangerous. Just another reminder that trying on is required for everything. I’ve bought this style of Zara trouser every season without problem. This year…not the case. It was a misery. So a no go, for me, on anything here. But, I do think this would look super cute on someone smaller, if you have a chic white blazer, some killer jewellery and some flat white sandals. Just putting that out there…

Animal Print Shirt Dress

Size XS-XXL

£29.99

Wanted to love this but just couldn’t. The fabric feels horrible. You will roast like a chicken if you wear this in any sort of heat….and that’s just not a good look is it? I did love the print and the style. I even liked that it was a bit longer in the back than in the front. Modesty and all that. But, I could barely move my arms or shoulders. And I mean not at all…. This dress went straight back in the box!

Linen Shirt Dress

Size XS-XXL

£49.99

A wardrobe classic! This is absolutely beautiful! I felt like a woman wondering the hills in Provence. What a beauty! The linen is light, clean and airy. It’s simply gorgeous! Buy this! It’s oversized and fits as such. Had plenty of room to move and felt like a million bucks!

Striped Shirt Dress

Size XS-XXL

£49.99

Wanted so much to love this. It fit perfectly in every place but my boobs. This dress is a prime example of thinking about everything other than the fact that women have boobs! I could easily fix the situation and close the gap in the dress, but just couldn’t be bothered. It was a great dress, but not that great, if you know what I mean. It is very flattering, however, so if you are a smaller size, this might work out perfectly for you!

Flounce Dress

Size XS-XXL

£49.99

I cannot say enough wonderful things about this garment and the 1,001 ways it can be worn. This is a wardrobe staple. You can wear it open and loose, belt it, throw on some seriously chunky jewellery, pair with boots and a jean jacket in the winter. Endless options, folks. And it’s truly oversized! A real find, if you ask me. Admittedly looks like a sack here but just wait until I style it up!

Printed Dress

Size XS-XXL

£49.99

This is one of those dresses that swamped the model. It looked massive. Got it home and it was another story. It’s supposed to fit loosely, but grabbed my hips like it was dreaming to be a the start of a pencil skirt in the back. I wanted to love and keep this dress but was wrong about it’s true intentions… it didn’t want to be oversized on me. But, would probably look great on a size 16 and below!

Agata Stone Earrings

£12.99

Rose Earrings

£15.99

And herein lies the truth with accessories. So good. These are just out. Kept both and you’ll be seeing a lot of them. I buy more in accessories in Zara than anything else. The statement pieces are stellar. End of.

Hope you enjoyed that! Make sure to check back later this week for another try on and keep an eye out for further Zara try ons to come!


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