I Found Love in a Hopeless Place: The Sale Rack at Zara

"I Found Love in a Hopeless Place" is a celebration of love in all its forms, with one new essay appearing each day until Valentine's Day.

Hopeless Love - Zara Sale - Lead
Photo: By Sage

Retail therapy has wielded great influence over my life in both wonderful and devastating ways. It’s helped me get over breakups, but it’s also crushed my wallet–like that time it introduced me to a white furry coat that I just had to have. I never wore it, and I was out $40 bucks that I could have given ConEd. But in its greatest form, the habit introduced me to love. Well, in a sartorial sense. It’s thanks to retail therapy that I found love in the most hopeless of places: the sale rack at Zara.

I walked into Zara that day with something heavy weighing on my mind. I didn’t need anything, per se. I have enough clothes–the metal pole in my closet that dips down in the middle can attest–I just wanted to find that new, shiny, likely overpriced item that would temporarily bring me happiness.

I started with dresses, then onto denim, and finally combed through a messy shelf filled with flats and cross-body bags. I was either disappointed in the selection, or couldn’t swing the price tag with my student loan deadline fast approaching. But I was determined! I would leave with something that would make me feel like a functioning human again. With hesitation, I approached the sale rack and noticed a 70s-inspired stripe hidden between rejected black dress pants.

What I found was a pair of orange, yellow, and black striped culottes that Marcia Brady would most definitely be proud to wear. I’m pretty sure a young Hillary Clinton even owned a version of them. The fabric felt light. They were swingy. They were high-waisted. They had a sash! Even more important for a New Yorker, they would go with all 30 of the black shirts, jackets, and sweaters in my closet–and they were marked down to $30. Sold.

I didn’t even try them on because I didn’t want anything—even the potential that they might not look as good on my body as they did on the hanger—to stop me from making an impulsive purchase.

At home, the warmth and fondness of my young love blossomed. They slipped on with ease, settling on my natural waist with just the right amount of stretch and skimming my hips in the most flattering way. I felt confident, peppy, chic, and shockingly willing to leave my neighborhood for dinner.

They earned nearly 200 likes on Instagram and complimentary texts from my friends. I even had one of my fitness instructors tell me that she went out and bought a pair after seeing them. And as a girl with more interest in bellbottoms than chokers, they allowed me to embrace my inner '70s-obsessive. Show me a man that can do all that, will you?

So will this love last? Well, it’s been four months, and despite about six other retail shopping sessions and many on-a-whim purchases, these are still the pants I’m writing about for Valentine’s Day. I guess you could say it’s official.

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