Welcome to The Great Try-On. With spring well and truly in the air, we seized the opportunity to try on some of the best new-in pieces from some of your favourite brands, documenting the process along the way. We believe that the best way to shop online is to see an item IRL and to read candid reviews, so we hope that this leads you to your most successful purchases of the year.
I'm generally a big fan of Arket. Not everything suits me and my petite, 5'2'' frame, and I often think some things can have quite a hefty price tag. That being said, I genuinely don't think you can find better elevated staples anywhere else on the high street. Having shopped there regularly for around five years now for all my basics, from T-shirts to poplin shirts, as well as the odd bigger investment like a blazer or coat, I can attest to the fact that Arket buys really last. The quality for a high-street store is unmatched, and for someone with expensive taste and classic style, it's always the first place I turn to at the beginning of a new season.
So when I found out I was going to be heading to Arket for our first-of-its-kind spring Great Try-On feature, I was more than happy to oblige. Up until now, my fellow Who What Wear editors and I have been in agreement that Arket does autumn/winter best. The outerwear, modern tailoring and chunky boots are just excellent. But let me tell you—the new spring 2023 collection just showed up to prove us wrong.
While we know Arket has a history of doing some key spring staples really well (like that sellout striped knit), the whole of this year's collection has left me with a rather sizeable shopping list. You'll still find plenty of these "perfect" bread-and-butter classics in the mix, from Bretons to trench coats. But I loved the modern touches that felt bang up-to-date, too, like the recently overhauled denim offering. I found the dream slouchy jeans I've been searching for and a denim shirt that will surely only get better with age. Bouclé textures, skirts (mini and full), a designer-looking curved crossbody bag and a ridiculously comfy knitted maxi dress also made an appearance.
At the behest of my local store, I tried on as much as I could smuggle into the changing rooms before the security guard started giving me funny looks. After taking into account my first reactions in the cubicle and considering the pieces I was still thinking about post-try-on, I've managed to pinpoint 10 of the best items that I would recommend. These are the styles that genuinely excited me and have been living in my mind rent-free ever since I left them in the store. I'd consider all of them capsule staples that I know I'd get so much wear out of for many seasons to come. Keep scrolling to see and shop my Arket spring picks…
1. Blazer + Relaxed Jeans
Blazer: size 10; Jeans: size 28; Tank: size XS
My Review: This isn't my first Arket-blazer rodeo. I actually own the original Oversized Hopsack Blazer in black and beige (honestly, it's the very best blazer of all time), but this style felt more tailored, and I thought this creamy neutral colour looked so expensive. Yes, I'm seriously considering buying it to add to my collection because you can never have enough blazers in my opinion.
The jeans were honestly a revelation. Previously, I'd been part of the "low-rise can stay in 2003" camp, but these felt like a grown-up gateway into trying the slouchy, low-slung denim trend for 2023. I'm always looking for really easy ways to add a cooler edge to my wardrobe of classics, and the jeans (and the cap and the designer-looking crossbody bag) absolutely ticked that box. I'm not sure I'm ready to pair the jeans with a cropped top and high-top Dunks like Gen Z, but with a slim tank top tucked in and the added polish of a blazer and pointed-toe shoes for balance, I'm well and truly convinced. My usual jeans size in Arket is a 28 (I'm a pretty standard size 10), and this style definitely comes oversized, as the waist was loose. I'm used to high-waisted vintage denim fits that you can barely breathe in, so my instinct was to say they were too big, but once I'd pulled them down to sit slightly lower on the hips, the slouchier fit worked. I'd probably only size down once.
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2. Denim Shirt + Cropped Straight Jeans
Shirt: size 8; Jeans: size 28
My Review: While I've told you I mainly stick to classic capsule items, I must divulge that I can't resist a touch of Americana when the time is right. Suede jackets, cowboy boots and, for 2023 especially, denim shirts all have a place in my wardrobe for when I'm feeling the need to add a bit more personality to my outfits. If you hadn't already noticed from the runways, street style and your favourite influencers' IG feeds, double denim is back with a vengeance this year—not that I ever thought it went out. Arket has a couple of shirting options that are a really easy way to level up your go-to shirt-and-jeans look. This particular loose style is currently sold out online, but I also love the more fitted, darker style linked below that can tuck in easily. I also can't recommend these jeans enough if you're looking for a classic straight-leg style. They're comfy with a bit of stretch and work well for petites thanks to the cropped leg. They came home with me, as I've been looking for a pair that I can wear with loafers and ballet flats for spring.
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3. Short Trench Coat
Jacket: size 8
My Review: I already have a classic trench coat (if you don't, I recommend this perfect Arket style), and I love the way the beige accent pulls together all of my spring outfits. But right now, shorter jackets are calling to me, probably because they pair so well with wide-leg trousers and jeans, and I've been curating a rather extensive collection of these over the past few years. If you're looking to switch up your spring outerwear, this light jacket is a great way to add a modern twist to such a classic. The neckline can be worn up or folded over, which I loved for added versatility! It fits oversized, so size down if you're petite or like a less relaxed fit.
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4. Poplin Shirt + Miniskirt
Shirt: size 8; Skirt: size 10
My Review: Honestly, I'm a trouser girl at heart. Despite my shorter height, which makes it difficult to find lengths that fit, I've always felt that trousers make my legs look longer, while skirts and dresses can often make me feel too girlish. However, if 2022 was the year of the trousers (wide-leg styles in particular), 2023 is the year of the skirt, and over here at Who What Wear UK, we're calling it now. So I thought I would step outside my comfort zone for this try-on and test not just one but two different skirts. (Keep scrolling to see the other style.) And I'm glad I did.
I was really surprised at how much I loved this mini, and when I had it on, I just kept thinking what a great alternative option it was to jeans or tailored pants since it works equally well with this classic poplin shirt. My fellow petites, I'd probably size down on this one, especially if you've got a smaller waist, as I had to roll this up once for it to sit where I would like. Either that or make friends with your local tailor. Taller folks, I'm sure it will hit perfectly on the leg for you.
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5. Knitted Dress
Dress: size S
My Review: As dresses go, this one ticks a lot of boxes—polished enough to wear to the office or out for drinks with knee-high boots, comfortable enough to wear all day and totally effortless to throw on with your favourite trainers, trench and crossbody bag. The stripes make it feel very wearable (it should go with most of your existing closet), but the slightly longer length (it's somewhere between a maxi and a midi depending on your height) and bell sleeves keep it feeling modern and fresh. It's a cosy knit fabric that hugs the body while still being really flattering, and although it might be a little warm for summer days, it's perfect for wearing right now, and I'd look forward to pulling it out in autumn.
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6. Full Skirt
Skirt: size 8; Tank: size XS
My Review: I've already told you skirts aren't really my thing, but this is a different story. When I first started in fashion 10 years ago, I had a soft spot for full skirts that nipped in at the waist, and I remember they were all over the streets for fashion weeks for many seasons. All I'll say is I'm glad this trend has come full circle from what I've seen of last month's street style pictures. Flattering and fun, this is something versatile I can wear to the office with a crisp white shirt, out for date nights or drinks and even dressed up for weddings. I reckon it would look just as good with ballet flats, trainers, heels and knee-high boots, and if it wears this well with a simple tank top, I'm sold.
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7. Bouclé Jacket
Jacket: size S
My Review: Bouclé is very "in" right now—designers and high-street brands are making everything from jumpers and skirts to dresses in this textural fabric. But the bouclé jacket has to be the most classic iteration and something that's been a mainstay in the chicest wardrobes for over 50 years. We have Coco Chanel to thank for that, but in 2023, we can get our hands on these elevated jackets on the high street too. This Arket version has the iconic short length, rounded collar and expensive-looking fabric, but I love that it feels different from the rest thanks to its chic Breton stripes. It feels very French and pairs perfectly with any kind of jeans or tailored trousers and loafers or ballet flats—which is basically my entire spring aesthetic.
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