People might disagree with me (especially on TikTok, where edits are constantly made about this topic), but I'm obsessed with Zara's product imagery. From the styling to the varying locations and artistic framing, I can't get enough of it, so much so that I end up buying (and then returning) a great deal of items that I probably wouldn't have taken an interest in had I gone into a physical store. And of all the pieces I've ordered, the ones that most consistently trips me up are jeans.
I have a love-hate relationship with Zara jeans. On one hand, the price-to-quality ratio is out of this world, specifically in the case of its non-stretch, 100% cotton offerings. On the other, I've been burned by its jeans with elastic that lose their color and shape too quickly, the varying lengths of its denim silhouettes, and confusing sizing. Since you can't read reviews of the denim on its website, there's no real way to know how a style will fit or look IRL without actually trying them on. Knowing that, I decided to take one for the team and try on a ton of the brand's coolest jeans right now and give you the 411.
Scroll down for the truth about Zara's jeans.
Buy: 100% Cotton Jeans
Skip: Stretch Denim
If I had to share one piece of advice relating to Zara jeans, it'd be this: Stick with 100% cotton denim. Though it can be tempting to buy styles with stretch, they have a tendency to stretch out after a few wears. On the other hand, the brand's non-stretch denim holds its shape like a $300 pair of jeans would and fits so well. Naturally, they're going to get slightly looser the more you wear them, but each time they go in the wash they'll tighten back up to the way they were the day you bought them.
Buy: Distressed Denim
Skip: Colorful Denim
I'm not big on colorful denim in general, but if I was, I'd want to make sure I was buying pairs that wouldn't fade with too many washes, and since I've experienced the way Zara's denim can sometimes lose a bit of its color over time, it wouldn't be my first stop. On the other hand, I've had so much success with destroyed or ripped denim at Zara, this pair from TRF included. For non-stretch jeans, they're so comfortable and soft, and they can easily be dressed up with a nice blouse or top and a pair of point-toe heels. Plus, you don't have to deal with any hassle from people telling you not to spend loads of money on jeans that are already distressed since the prices at Zara, particularly in the denim section, are so fair.
Buy: Wide-Leg Jeans
Continuing with the stretch vs. non-stretch debate, my advice would be to stick with Zara's wider-leg denim options as opposed to its flare jeans, which almost always have elastic in them. Even with the '70s-era style coming back in many ways, I still suggest avoiding any silhouettes with a stretchy fit, which most of the Zara flares have. Buy those elsewhere and focus on wide-leg jeans from Zara, which are consistently high quality and flattering. This pair in particular is almost shockingly soft and would be perfect for a summer trip—perhaps to the Outer Banks, the Berkshires, or Maine. They're definitely giving Dawson's Creek vibes in the best way.
Buy: One Size Down
Skip: True Size
If you want a super close, held-in fit on your non-stretch jeans, my coworker Anna and I both recommend sizing down one size as, with any denim, the more you wear them, the baggier they'll get. As I mentioned before, one wash cycle will get them back to their initial size, but if you, like me, don't wash your denim after every wear, you'll want to size down so that if you wear them a handful of times before washing them, they don't get too oversized. If you want a super baggy look, however, go up a size or two, even if the product imagery makes it seem like the style is already oversized. Remember: Retailers often pin and tuck things in product imagery to make them appear a certain way. If you're ever on the fence, read the measurements!
Buy: Mid- and High-Rise Jeans
Skip: Low-Rise Jeans
Though I'm all for the low-rise jeans trend, if I'm going to wear them again, I need the style to be a perfect fit that really compliments my body, so I probably wouldn't go to a big retailer like Zara. More universally flattering and comfortable rises, like mid or high, are easier to get right, especially when ordering online. In fact, some of my favorite mid- and high-rise jeans came from Zara and have gotten years of wear.
Buy: Mom Jeans
Skip: Skinny Jeans
I know Prada and Ferragamo are making a case for skinny pants in 2023, but I'm simply not ready to welcome them back into my closet just yet. Instead, I'm embracing a slimmer-fit mom jean like this pair from Zara, which allows you to tuck in boots like you would with a skinny jean without that uncomfortable, super-tight fit. The rise on this par in particular is super high and perfect for pairing with cropped T-shirts or tank tops.
Buy: Trendy Styles
Skip: The True Classics
The low prices on Zara's jeans make the store a perfect place to start when a new denim trend—like this style, known as a barrel or balloon cut—enters the scene. Test it out, get to know it, and figure out if it's for you by spending just around $50 as opposed to diving head first into the trend with a $300 to $500 pair of jeans that you might not end up even liking. However, if you're trying to find that one perfect pair of jeans that you'll wear, well, forever, I'd suggest splurging on a really well-constructed pair from a denim expert like Levi's, Frame, Khaite, or Agolde.
Buy: Cropped Jeans*
Skip: Classic Lengths*
(For petite shoppers only)
Zara jeans are notorious for being shockingly long, which bodes well for someone my height—I'm 5'8"—but makes buying denim tricky when you're below 5'3". If that's you, I suggest opting only for cropped styles like these kick-flare jeans, which hit way above my ankle but would fit great on someone a few inches shorter.