I Tried On Everything at Zara, COS and Mango—Here’s What Stood Out

The weather continues to not play ball (I feel like I say this a lot in my columns), but one thing is certain: It’s definitely bare-leg weather. Okay, it’s maybe not quite short-shorts weather, but we’re making progress, and all of the best pieces you see in stores and online right now won’t hang around for the sunny days we’re so longing for. 

Like every season, as we inch closer to summer, I’m desperate to wear all the looks I’ve been planning in my head. But this summer feels different. Of course, each season, there are always underlying trends paving the way for all brands and especially the Great British high street, but there’s definitely a feeling that “anything goes” is the mantra, and if you are working an outfit, this season is all about committing and going all out no matter how understated or maximalist your style may be.

This week, I headed out to scour the shop floors of our favourite affordable stores and tried on some of the best buys. From Zara’s new limited-edition pieces to Mango’s new-season colours, there were many highlights. Most interesting was COS, which has added buttonhole elastics on the inside of all of its trousers. I always remember my father’s trousers having them in the ’90s, and it’s such a genius hack, especially if you have a small waist and wide hips like I do. So, which five shops were my favourites? Read on to find out.

You may not believe me, but as a self-confessed pink lover, I do my best to avoid anything pink when I’m out shopping for research purposes in order to maintain some sort of balance for everyone else, but somehow, I always gravitate to it. 

This oversized organza shirt looks way beyond its high-street price tag, and when paired with this A-line skirt, it’s basically giving Miuccia Prada vibes minus the hefty bill.

This was the perfect A-line shape and hem length.

This is definitely one of my favourite looks right now and is an example of how I tend to wear more neutral colour palettes—texture is key! 

I have a lot of ribbed knits right now, as they wash really well and are a good lightweight pieces for spring. This cardigan adds polish and a more grown-up vibe to what would otherwise be a more casual outfit.

These nylon shorts, once again, are giving Prada vibes on a budget, but what I love about them is they nip in at the waist and are a really wearable length too. The subtle glow to the fabric is a nice contrast to the sporty shape.

I was super impressed by the quality of the fabric and the structure of this top. Wear with jeans and feels for a smart-casual feel or with a pair of slouchy tailored trousers to create a high-fashion look.

Pure wow!

I nearly walked past this dress, as it didn’t have much hanger appeal, but once I had it on, I didn’t want to take it off. I have found the cut of most pieces in COS this season to be exceptional, and this dress hugged my torso in all the right places. It’s basically a must-buy if you want a strappy summer dress that works on larger busts and that can be dressed up or down.

Such a classic.

A racerback tank is fast becoming a standard summer basic, and when paired with a slouchy tailored pair of trousers in a matching colour palette, it creates an effortless contemporary outfit. 

This comes in lots of different colours.

All of COS’s tailored trousers are complete with adjustable buttonhole elastics internally to ensure the perfect fit. If you love a pair of tailored trousers but have a smaller waist than your hips, get to COS!

Workwear is often thought to be limited in choice, but this season, ’90s tailoring continues to be one of the hottest trends for 2022, and it’s anything but boring! 

This waistcoat would look cool as a top with jeans.

My mum had several pairs Bermuda shorts when I was growing up, so wearing these felt like I was stepping back in time into her wardrobe. They definitely require a slight heel, like my black heeled sandals, or a pointy slingback would be great for a more formal setting.

There are so many brilliant summer jackets on the high street this season and in pretty much any shade you can think of—many of which are from Mango—but this one really stood out. 

The hourglass shape that nips in at the waist looks super premium, and the subtle shade of aqua is a refreshing alternative to a default beige or white blazer.  

I love everything about this linen playsuit. The colour, the fit, you name it. When I try something on and know I can instantly walk out of the shop wearing it, I know I’m on to a winner. I rest my case.

An incredible shade of green that suits everyone.

It was hard to miss this cropped billowy top and midi skirt as you scrolled through your Instagram feed last summer. Now, there are even more iterations to choose from, this included.

It was the summer co-ord of choice after Aussie brand Matteau debuted its grown-up take on boho in earth tones of chocolate brown and rust, so imagine my delight when I spotted this version in & Other Stories.

The design of this voluminous cotton dress is so simple, yet it is just what I’m looking for right now. the longer sleeves are perfect whilst it’s still not quite warm enough for bare legs and arms, and the loose shape together with the knee-length hem means I can wear it from work to the nursery pickup and on my holiday, too. It hasn’t landed online yet, but there are lots of similar alternatives.

This has a similar throw-on-and-go vibe and comes in lots of colours. Up next, 2022’s cult summer buys.