|Photo by Dmitry Valberg|
There comes a time in every girl's life when they exit TopShop and cross the road into Zara. At 27 I feel it is my time to take that leap of faith. This week I wandered into TopShop, ever allured by their bright pink SALE promises and I had to rub my eyes and blink a few times to convince myself I hadn’t wandered into the local under 18s disco. All around me were girls who looked about 17 but were probably only 12. Their mother's credit cards were smoldering in their pockets. Atop their heads were nests of perfectly messed up hair – that ever so boho look of backcombing the life out of it and scraping it from one side of the head to the other in a big ragamuffin halo. Satchels entangled with satchels and fake thick rimmed glasses were pushed and pushed and pushed up blackhead-less noses in an orgy of phony myopia. There was more 80s knitwear adorning 16 year old shoulders than there was in 1988. My sister, a TRUE 80s child, could only have envisioned such glorious sights after a trunk load of spangles and opal fruits.
It was too much, and before I even had time to fondle a pair of floaty culottes I was back out on the street sweating and worried. I staggered drunk on other people’s mums perfume and crawled along the pavement. I had been shunned by the goddess of high street style. My ancient, late 20s bones shivered in my sack of a body. I dragged myself along the wet pavement of Glasgow, a lost sheep without a flock until suddenly I was saved. There looming over me like a mother ship was Zara. She took me in, bathed me in space and light and wrapped my broken body in as much tweed-lite material as I could take.
I had always avoided Zara, everything in the window looked a bit pricey, a bit *nice*, a bit……grown up. But on a grey day in October I was enlightened. Everything was gorgeous, I wanted, NO NEEDED every item in every colour. The knitwear made me weep, I clutched the 100% wool labels like they were the tiny hands of my first born. I sniffed the real leather shoes and skipped about high on its perfume. The scarves were silken, the blazers were elbow patched, and the staff floated about unseen, there were no catty looks up and down - I was just left alone to indulge.
Zara has the layout and feel of a shop that could almost be designer, but the prices are the same, if not lower than Topshop….who knew? But unlike Topshop everyone in there seemed to be over 21; careful shoppers, taking their time to try things on, run their fingers over seams and select other items to make a complete outfit. There was no rushing about, no shrieking, no loud indie rock, no bird nests and everyone in glasses (including me) seemed to have a medical necessity for wearing them. I was shopping amongst adults and I liked it.
But, it isn’t perfect – the tables were untidy – t-shirts looked like they had just come out the spin cycle and been discarded. And the sizing is WEIRD. I'm usually about a 10 in most places, but Zara clothes are teeeeny tiiiiiny wiiiiny ittttty so be warned. Take a deep breath and put your inevitable weight gain down to international body differences. I need a size 12 (if not 14!!) skirt in Zara. I forgive them though, because its all very lovely and I'd rather have to big up for something gorgeous than be flattered by a size 10 or 8 item that is just OK.
We all need to grow up sometimes, and it can hurt. But somethings about leaving your 20s are OK – you can eat olives without thinking about grapes, you don’t feel weird about spending Saturday night selecting a “nice loaf” for Sunday morning and you can wear tweed and elbow patches without looking like a geography teacher. Unless of course that’s the look you are going for, or you actually are a geography teacher.
So my sisters and brothers who are crossing the road into the adult world and pulling on sensible, yet stylish knitwear, I salute you.