A Guide to Shopping at Forever 21

Forever 21 has been my saving grace for about ten years. When my mom refused to pay Urban Outfitters prices, we went back to school shopping here, land of the cheap and trendy. In college, I would spend any extra cash I had on a heap of Forever 21 clothing, making a quick trip to the mall if I needed a new party dress or pair of chunky heels.

I’ve been slowly weaning myself off because I found myself easily spending a hundred bucks on stuff that rips, shrinks or is straight up not practical. Forever 21 is tricky. Here are my Forever 21 “cardinal rules”:

1. No shoes (hello, mangled feet).
2. No jewelry (so cute, but so easily destructible).
3. Most sweaters are a no-go (they’re hole-y and not useful in actual cold weather).
4. Faux leather anything is usually a bad idea (it will just look like trash bag material).
5. Save money for basics that you’re going to wear all the time (PJs, black jeans, etc).

But I do still shop at Forever 21 because seriously, who can afford Urban Outfitters? A girl’s gotta be on a reasonable budget. Another general rule I follow is if it looks like I bought the clothing item at Forever 21, I don’t buy it. As we all know, their clothes do fall apart easily and holes seem to form within a couple wears. But with that said, there are ways to pick and choose.

On Saturday I decided to go to the mall and see if I was able to find some stuff that I thought followed my basic shopping principles as well as looked good for being worth an average of sixty cents. Here were my winners:

The classic flower print dress, $27.80


Watch out for thin material when you’re buying a dress from Forever. I’ve fallen into the trap of “oh, it’s so cute” and ended up with a rip in my armpit a couple hours later. This one seemed okay, and it fit pretty well. I really loved the flowery design and the lacy collar; it felt vintage and casual, but you can dress it up with heels if you want. Since this dress is kind of on the shorter side, you can wear some black tight underneath.

Flowing coral top, $13.80


It’s kind of wrinkly here, but this top is super cute for spring or summer. I love shirts that aren’t tight fitting because they’re uncomfortable, so I sway towards flow-y, loose-fitting tops. This one in particular is surprisingly not see-through (it passed the black bra test) and was soft. Winner!

Black blazer, $15.80


Feel like dressing up said flowing tank top? Easy. Get a blazer. I’m absolutely in love with this one because not only is it super cheap, but it actually looks professional and work-worthy. Plus, polka-dots are my weakness.

Coral button-up blouse, $19.80


For some reason, coral is *the* color at Forever 21 right now. I guess because spring is on its way and the sweatshops got a good deal on pink fabric? Who knows. But this is another shirt that can work as professional or casual attire. It’s loose-fitting, the material is shiny-soft, and you can dress it up with some jewelry.

“Every Woman is a Rebel” Oscar Wilde t-shirt, $13.80


I think black and gold is freaking fabulous, and top it off with a bad ass Oscar Wilde quote, and I’m all set for a t-shirt. The material is soft like American Apparel t-shirts, although I would be careful washing and drying it so the gold doesn’t peel off.

Striped maxi skirt, $8.80


To be honest, maxi skirts and dresses make me nervous. They always hug my hips the wrong way, and I’m never sure what shoes to wear. But I noticed this striped number on display and decided to give it a go. And you know what? It didn’t look half bad. For nine bucks, it’s not even see-through, which is impressive. When I can pull off a longer skirt like this, I usually either pair it with a tank top, or go with the business-casual look by putting on a blazer. Well played, Forever 21.

Yellow scarf, $8.80


Forever 21 scarves are by no means a way to attain warmth. You may as well wrap toilet paper around your neck. But they’re cute and add some color to your outfit without too much effort. They also have turquoise and other bright, pastel colors if yellow isn’t your thing.

Army-green, double breasted trench coat, $53.99


Realistically, it’s still cold. But now is the time to start looking for warm clothes on sale for next year. I realize the quality of this photo isn’t great and you can’t really see the color very well, but it’s this really awesome dark-green/olive color, and it’s super, super warm. I normally wouldn’t recommend buying coats from Forever 21 because they’re flimsy and not trustworthy, but this trench coat is heavy duty stuff.

Overalls, $32.80


I love overalls. I love that Forever 21 has overalls. I’m normally not okay with their jeans because they’re always too short on me and the button always falls off and this makes me sad because jeans already give me anxiety. These, however, fit really well and seem to be sturdy enough. Plus, they’re tighter-fitting so you can wear them out. For some reason, this pair of overalls really remind me of something Carrie Bradshaw would wear, which makes me happy because viva la Sex and the City!

Flowing black dress with belt, $22.80


Forever 21 can be good for simple things. This black dress is awesome. It goes with everything. And it comes with a belt that’s studded on the side, so it’s a tiny bit edgy. I have at least seven black dresses like this because they’re good for work, school, dinner, dates, the movies, the works. Black is also God’s gift to humankind because it looks so flattering on every person, no matter how you feel that day. Keep calm and wear black, I say.

Tribal-y sweater shawl, $24.80


I know I advised you guys not to buy any sweaters from Forever 21, but this one is actually warm! Plus, I really like this poncho-y look. It’s different from anything I own.

Fancy shirt thing, $44.80


Sometimes, Forever 21 has these random articles of clothing that serve no purpose but to look cool or pretty and I give in to my whims and buy them. This isn’t a cardigan or t-shirt, but it looks good and it’s covered in fake pearls and a sparkly design. It’s certainly a Forever 21 splurge, but after all of my savings, shouldn’t I treat myself?

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