I can’t even tell you how many times people have asked me, “When is Zara coming to Chicago?” The massive Spanish retailer is beloved by budget-minded style hunters for its dedication to cosmopolitan style and up-to-the-last-second mimicking of street trends—designs can hit the stores just two weeks off the drawing board. And now I can finally say it has arrived in Chicago… sort of. You’ll have to trek out to Old Orchard mall in Skokie, at least until sometime next year, when two locations are slated to open downtown. At the Skokie opening last week, the store’s two floors were a sea of stormy grays, purples, and black, with just a few flashes of color here and there. Zara tends to be more expensive than competitors like H&M and Forever 21—a pair of dove-gray flats with a basket-weave detail at the toe were $99, a bit pricey when you consider that over at Nordstrom you can find better-quality shoes in a similar style and color for about $20 less. Slate-colored low-heeled ankle boots with a buckle across the front seemed like a better deal at $69. A superlong gray knit cardigan looked both comfortable and crisp, with vaguely military styling and lots of pockets and buttons ($89), while for the same price a short double-breasted coat in a tweed of blue, pink, and red resembled something you’d see on one of those effortlessly chic girls riding the Paris Metro late at night. The men’s section carries a selection of basic but sleek suit jackets ($189) and pants ($89) as well as jeans in bright shades of aqua, fuchsia, and violet ($39) and sneakers made with gray pinstriped fabric ($49). In the kids’ section it was no surprise to find miniature motorcycle jackets ($49) and velour hoodies bearing the legend “Always Love” in rhinestones ($24), but I was heartened to see adorable, age-appropriate princess coats as well ($69). aZara, 66 Old Orchard Center, Skokie, 847-329-0808, zara.com. —Heather Kenny