|My Zara jeans from 2012|
In December of that year, I spent a long weekend in Barcelona, a city awash with cultural attractions, as I mention in my post about the trip:
'These include broad, tree-lined boulevards such as the famous La Rambla, Parc Güell with its "kimono dragon" standing sentry at the entrance, numerous other quirky and satisfyingly wavy structures by Gaudí, a dazzling palm-lined marina, the spiky, brooding squares of the Gothic quarter, not forgetting the curious Christmas log novelties that reminded me compellingly of Thomas the Tank Engine in a Santa hat. If I am totally honest, you could actually spend an entire weekend in Barcelona just browsing in the many branches of Zara, but I valiantly resisted the urge.'
That said, I did end up spending a good hour or more in one branch, and came out with precisely this jumper, which is at least pictured here in a perfume setting:
Which all goes to show that I have historically been quite a fan of Zara, with its edgy high street takes on the latest fashion trends, combining decent quality and affordable prices. As for my jeans, five years on they have started to feel a bit snug. I swear there is no connection with the fact that I have recently had four Lindt bunnies on the go at 550 calories a pop. It is simply the natural wear and tear - as in shrinkage - that comes with frequent washing down the years. Well okay, I might have put on a few pounds, but I am pretty sure I am still the same dress size, or its bottom half equivalent.
So I had a look on the women's section of the Zara website to see if I could identify something approximating to the jeans I wanted to replace, although I was aware that the ranges would be different now, Zara being a brand particularly noted for the frequent updating of its collections. The first pair I bought were wrong on two counts, for which I only have myself to blame - I accidentally bought 'mid-rise' instead of 'low rise' and 'skinny' instead of 'slim fit'. They were size 10, and black, but there the similarity ended. When they came I could just about get them on, but they were uncomfortable, and the skinny style far from flattering.
To their credit, Zara have a 'no quibble' free returns policy, so I sent that pair back and ordered a slim fit, low rise pair in charcoal grey - also Size 10. They turned out to be a much closer match in colour, style and fabric to my old pair, but I could not get them on. Bizarrely, they were even tighter than the skinny pair! I compared the leg measurements of each and calculated that in the calf area, the new Size 10 was about 5" less in circumference than the old one. Now my weight fluctuates within a range of about 4lb, but there is no way my legs have slimmed down that much since I bought the previous pair. I didn't check the waist, but it was clearly narrower too, and yet the measurements listed on their website for Size 10 (Chest 34" / Waist 26" / Hips 37") were the classic ones that I am.
|Slim fit all right, but I am in pain!|
So I sent those back as well, and decided to write to - and ring - Zara and ask them what was going on with their sizes. Both over the phone and in an email I received the same bland and nonsensical response:
"In answer to your question the relevant department has said that one item is from 2012 and another is from 2017 therefore both of the items are different styles and as such may fit differently.
We hope this information helps with your query."
I know one item is from 2017 and one item from 2012 - it was me that told you when I bought the blinking things! As for the style being different, it depends on how far-reaching your definition of 'style' is. To me, a pocket detail here and a frayed hem there is a matter of style, but the terms 'low rise' and 'slim fit' - and most crucially, 'Size 10' - should be constants, like the terms 'hatchback' and 'estate' in the case of cars, say. I was incensed that they could pass off the loss of five inches in the calf - and a general contraction of measurements everywhere - as a mere style issue. Oh, and the old ones are not flares or even boot cut - but rather straight leg - though the latest style pictured has a curved cutaway thing going on, where I unfortunately still have leg to accommodate...
|Zara Size 14 on top of my old Size 10|
So I bit the bullet and ordered the largest size they do - a 14. I think it poor that Zara stop at 14, given that that is the UK average dress size. Though, not, as it turns out, in 'Zara World', where it is the absolute outer limits of acceptability. I could get the size 14 on, but the calves were still tight and uncomfortable and the waistband a little slack. I sent them back.
Coincidentally, somewhere between Pair 1 and 2, I had been cruising 'pre-owned' trousers on eBay, where I spied a pair of black Zara jeans in size 10 that were of an unknown vintage, but looked a decent size in the pictures - and won them for the princely starting price of £1.50 plus postage! And lo and behold, they fitted like a dream...So I am now quids in, and have totally given up on Zara.
|Size 10 from eBay - comfort AND fit at last!|
Taking a step back from this sorry saga, I don't know what Zara are trying to achieve with their illogical goalpost moving. For one thing, it is going to cost them a fortune in free postage, as disappointed customers return the garments that are nothing like the sizes they purport to be. One possible reason is to ensure that in future, their clothes are only worn by the very slim, so that effectively their entire customer base will be 'catwalk models abroad', albeit of various heights. This in turn would mean that Zara can show off its garments in public to what the brand considers their best advantage.
However, that market must be very small, so by excluding all women bigger than (actual) Size 8 they are surely shooting themselves in the foot commercially? Or the calf, even. And speaking for myself, I don't personally give a hoot whether I am a 10 or a 14 or a 4, and I promise I have nothing against people who are skinnier than me - it is important to make that clear! However, I do want to know how to compare apples with apples, or pears with pears rather, given that that is my body type. Because it is a complete waste of everyone's time and money otherwise, not to mention deeply frustrating, given how delighted I have been with my jeans from five years ago. And arguably it is even socially irresponsible of Zara, as it could give rise to eating disorders - though not in me.
|Here they are - good luck guessing the model's size!|
The only consolation is that (as you can see in the top photo) my 50/50 ratio of torso to body means I have an identical physique to Tom Cruise apparently, instead of the perfect female ratio (in favour of legs, surprise surprise!) of something like 40/60. Well, as someone who briefly owned a bag of fudge - which had in turn been briefly owned by Tom Cruise (as Portia of APJ is my witness!) - that seems fitting. One of the few things in this post that is...!