I’m 37 and sick of Zara…here’s how and where I shop.

Published on: June 24, 2019

Here’s where I am at. I am 37 years old. No kiddie. One dog. One new life in Dorset. Yes, my life has changed. I have gone from flitting from fashion event to fashion event in Dublin for 8 years (ok, who flits I know!) to moving to a small town in Dorset, buying a dog and paring back my work to ‘recharge the batteries’, regroup oh yes build a house and get married :-)

Suddenly, i’ve seen the realities of your wardrobe needing to reflect your life. My pleated midi skirts and heels combo has gone right out the fashion window. And it’s hard. Very hard. I love fashion and somehow trying to make my wardrobe more everyday practical and still feel stylish is tough! The other interesting part to my new fashion puzzle is that I, like everyone else is thankfully trying to slow down the buying. It no longer feels good to buy the €19.99 Zara top x 4 just because you can. What does it really add to your wardrobe? How long will you really have it for? What damage is my unconscious buying really doing to the world around me. Damn that conscience of mine. Now don’t get me wrong, still purchase I do but I am feeling a shift and I am definitely more aware and buying less.

So. The result? This new life has really made me think about the words I would use to describe by style because if I am going to translate  a ‘fashionable’ wardrobe into a ‘wearable’ wardrobe and still feel stylish and put together in the Dorset countryside, I need to understand the personality behind the person! So here it goes, my style and where and how I like to shop for my new slower life. Mindful styling I guess we can call it.


My style

I thought about this long and hard and the word I would use most often to describe my style is ‘effortless’. I like to look stylish but always like I haven’t tried too hard. I would err on the side of one size up instead of one size down in tops (partly because looser represents this easy breezy feeling I like in my clothes but also partly because I have a pear shape and one size up on my top half helps me to get that all important feeling of body balance). I’m more block colours and neutrals over billowing fabrics and girlie flowers. Denim and stripes are both staples and I like to take a trend and pare it back, like that good old faithful pleated skirt by teaming with a white tee.


In this piccy: Jeans from H&M Conscious Collection, bag was a charity shop find, shoes & Other Stories and blouse from Massimo Dutti

Here is where and how I shop.



I love the high street and quite frankly as much as I love a good nose on Net-A-Porter and The Outnet my budget is still firmly and happily on the high street, but I guess you could say in a more conscious way. I love how instagram in particular has become a treasure trove of new shopping finds. Websites, quirky ‘off the high street’ brands and online stores that I feel I would never have found out about without a good scroll. I always bookmark new fashion finds, websites and blogs that I like on my computer so I always have a go to place when I want to browse online for something.

Like lots of women I know, I am a total online shopping browser still rather than a buyer. I have a shopping app folder on my phone and the apps I keep an eye on the most would be (gosh this is really making me think!) Sezane, Mango, Urban Outfitters, John Lewis ( a mecca in the uk with some lovely unique brands. Kind of like The House of Fraser of the uk), Uterque, Massimo Dutti, M&S and H&M. I don’t ever use the Zara app. I hate shopping Zara online. Their styling/ how they put things together is questionable at best and their models. Don’t get me started on why they feel the need to have models that are a size 4 at best.  That said I probably would have a browse during the sale but rarely buy. For me online helps me to keep an eye on what’s coming in but I must say since moving to the uk and being in a small town (the closest good high street is an hour away) I have been buying more online than I would have done in Ireland.

I also LOVE Etsy for random purchases, unique jewellery, I used it a lot when looking for my vintage wedding dress.


Where I spend my money

Massimo Dutti

Yes, yes I know. It’s like the expensive Zara but I have grown to really like it. Call it growing up, mindful styling or just the fact it’s easier to shop online than zara as there is just less stuff! My two most recent purchases (as in this year I have bought two things from Massimo Dutti) have been a long bevy and white printed dress with a belt (€99) and I also bought the most beautiful cream safari style jumpsuit (kind of more smart casual) with a collar and buttons on the front for €49.99 in the sale. For me two items I have loved much more this year than overdoing it in Zara (tempting as it is).



This is one of my favourites at the moment. The quality for the price is so good. It’s really funny how certain moments change how you think about a shop. This is quite funny but it’s actually my Paul who got me thinking about Cos. I used to kind of discount it as a bit too ‘cool’ for me. Not sure why. Again it’s funny the ideas you get in your head about certain brands and shops. Anyhow, Paul bought me a long black dress (I know! I was shocked too). Now one of my favourites in the summer. Its just really simple, fitted on top and A line with a really cool overlap layer at the bottom. I LOVE it and possibly would have never picked it for myself. This is where my love of Cos has come from. I would look to COS for things like white tee’s (great quality), cool flat shoes, definitely day dresses and oversized shirts to wear over denim. I also got one of the all time best (and nicest fabric) black trousers in COS.



For all the stripes. I love a stripe. In fact my Dorset uniform for most days excitement of doggie walks, supermarket runs and working from home is a stripe of some sort with a high waisted, wide legged trouser (my currently fav are a black super wide culotte shape from Bershka that looks like a midi skirt on). Uniqlo has great breton stripe tops all year round in lots of colours. I also love their cashmere but would usually shop for it in the mens bit as I prefer it more slouchy.


Marks & Spencers

Anyone who knows me knows I love a good Marks and Spencers browse. They have been doing some amazing work with their womenswear. Of course you have to go to the good one. My fav one in Dublin is their flagship one in Liffeyvalley, it’s great. I just think it’s great to tee’s, I love the shoes (M&S on Grafton Street has the best shoes), I love Autograph for that Massimo Dutti feel but I love all their brands really.


Olive Clothing

This is a new favourite of mine recently. I follow them on instagram and they do this think every week where they just show the new bits and pieces that come in on their insta stories. It always has me visiting the website. I just love the neutral everyday pieces, wardrobe classics but with that effortless and modern feel that I like. I would probably go to Olive if I was looking for something like a dungaree dress, a quirky tee shirt or maybe a neutral blazer to wear over jeans.



A past student of mine introduced me to Monki a while back and although I have yet to buy I do love it. It’s great for plus sizing and women with curves. I especially love the look of their jumpsuits, they always have so many to choose from and just such quirky and cool patterns and prints. I love the oversized feel to their clothes but I am not sure on the quality as I have not purchased. Actually I lie. I did buy a pinstripe pair of dungarees in one of their epic sales but it didn’t fit and I sent it back that quick I cannot even remember the quality!

Top Tip: If you are going to buy online I think it’s a good habit to send back straight away if it doesn’t work. Treat your bedroom like your fitting room in a  shop, doesn’t work? Back it goes. Otherwise you lose heart with online shopping and their is the danger your 30 days return window will run out.


Finery London

This is just a lovely mid price point (but quality fabrics) option. Definitely great for worker type vibes. So although for me I work from home and am trying not to invest in dressier items, I love Finery London for its modern, effortless and beautifully curated website. The model who wear the clothes actually look like real women and I find it great for an investment dress, fun colours and prints and also great quality shirts and tee shirts with just a little something quirky about them.



I just love a browse in Anthropoligie. It is a UK store but you can shop online in Ireland. My closest one is in Bath and I love it so much. The clothes are great quality (but expensive) and just so cool and quirky. And not being a print girl this is a weird one for me. It’s the one shop that can talk me into a flowery print :-) Their shoes are epic and don’t get me started on the homewares. Oh and the hair bands. If your looking for a quirky hair band, try Anthropoligie. Again, they are expensive but worth it as a one off that you can wear with so many things everyday. I wear a hairband with just a  white teeshirt and jeans and feel dressed up.


Charity Shops

This is one of the things I really love about the UK. Their charity shops are amazing. We have 9 in Sherborne alone and honestly, this is where I spend most of my time lol.  Of course you have to be lucky but this year I would say I have bought more charity shop finds than any other shop. One of my best finds is a vintage Levi’s denim jacket that I just live in and it cost me £30. For me it’s also about not buying new and feeding the high street less but also just the thrill of finding something you love that was preloved makes me very happy. My wedding dress is a vintage dress I found in a tiny vintage wedding dress shop at the back of a ladies house about a few hours from Sherborne!


TK Maxx

I’ve grown more fond of TK Maxx in the last year. We have one quite close by and I guess it feeds into the charity shop mentality. You either love a good rummage or you don’t and I do! If I’m stressed I have been known to just get lost in TK Maxx – clothes, beauty, homewares, I just love a rummage. But seriously, this year I have bought 2 jumpsuits I love (both summer linen jumpsuits) in TK Maxx. I have bought a swimsuit, shoes (love their shoes because you find brands you just don’t come across on the high street) and also lots of running gear!



Ok so here are the shops at the moment I really don’t rate. & Other Stories I just find the quality of their clothes for the price is really bad. Their dresses especially for the price point of £80 rarely have lining or good stitching. I think for the money, it’s not great. I would probably buy a jumper in & Other Stories but not a dress and probably not a skirt.


New finds

Here are some brands and websites I have been browsing recently and loving but have yet to buy but I really want too! Most of these I have come across through other blogs I follow and/ or on instagram. Sisterhood is a lovely carefully curated selection of dresses and other bits for that effortless chic lady (ahem, me haha). I think this is particularly good for petites too. Doen is an American label recently stocked on Net-A-Porter. Known for their dresses and not cheap but really beautiful. Quite whimsical for me but I am drawn to the easy breezy feeling of the brand (god the power of marketing). I am also loving Arket as an alternative to Zara. Similar vibe but more thoughtful and better quality. I think they are really good for shirts and blouses in particular. I have yet to buy but god I love their shoes! Miista just has the best shoes! Check them out! Dying to visit their store in London! Lily & Lionel is a brand I have discovered online. Not cheap but definitely worth a look. Finally, I am liking a website called Atterly, which curates some lovely boutique brands all in one place.


Bought these little mules in a shop I never really go into, Jigsaw. They had some great stylish but sensible heeled shoes on sale!

Hope you enjoyed this months read, any feedback would be great and happy buying only the stuff that makes you happy :-)

Julie x



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