I remember the first time I stepped foot in a Limited Too store.
My mother and I were at a mall in San Antonio, Texas. I was young — somewhere between seven and nine years old. In an instant, I became obsessed with everything the store was hawking. Puffy pink jackets? A must-have. Bubblegum-scented shampoo? Yes, please. Butterfly hair clips? I’ll take them all.
I’d fallen particularly in love with a purple, sleeveless belly tie shirt in a bold floral print. The store didn’t have it in my size, but I somehow convinced my mom to get the shirt in the next size up because I’d grow into it. (I have no idea what ever became of that shirt, but I would definitely still wear it today.)
Limited Too did more than help develop my negotiating skills with my parents. For many millennial women who came of age in the 1990s and early 2000s, Limited Too was essentially mecca. It’s where you went to dress ~trendy~. And if you were anything like me, it’s where you desperately tried to recreate the oh-so-stylish ensembles of VHS superstars Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen.
Unfortunately, I grew up mostly without an actual Limited Too store nearby. Nebraska isn’t exactly known for its incredible shopping scene, which means that my flair for fashion came from magazines and catalogs. I spent hours flipping through the collective inventories of Limited Too, Delia*s, and Alloy. When a Limited Too store finally opened up an hour away in Omaha, I begged my mother every week to take me there. I would often bring the latest issue of the catalog, choice items circled in glittery gel pen. And although we could only afford to buy one shirt or one pair of jeans as opposed to, say, dozens of outfits, the experience of getting to formulate my own sense of style is what was really valuable.
I’ll never forget how devastated I was when Limited Too broke away from its parent company, The Limited, eventually morphing into the Justice brand that, IMO, does not capture the tween sophistication that Limited Too was all about.
But by then, in 2008, I was a college sophomore who had matured quite a bit. It had been years since I last sported a smiley face backpack or rocked a sequin belt. I was wrapping up my teen years and entering my twenties. It was time for me to start dressing like it.
Enter The Limited.
Shopping at The Limited helped elevate my wardrobe from girly to grown. I slowly began trading in my ripped jeans for tapered trousers and swapped out graphic tees for button-ups and blouses. Conveniently, a good friend started working at the local store as an assistant manager.
I often stopped by to play dress up in the power suits and structured outerwear. The Limited didn’t just embody the type of woman I wanted to dress like — the store also introduced me to the type of woman I wanted to be.
I yearned to be the woman who wore perfectly tailored blazers and sky-high stilettos while carrying a chic leather tote, a grande latte, and an iPad all at once. The Limited was aspirational in that way. And when the iconic mall brand teamed up with Scandal — one of my all-time favorite TV shows — for a capsule collection, I was completely sold. I bought nearly every piece from the Scandal collab because I knew it was the closest I would ever get to dressing like the incomparable Olivia Pope.
And best of all, most of my pieces from The Limited have stood the test of time. Many are such classics — the wide-leg trouser and the white button-up, for example — that they will never go out of style.
Needless to say, I was heartbroken when The Limited filed for bankruptcy and permanently closed all of its 250 brick-and-mortar stores. Moreover, thelimited.com is “closed temporarily” due to the ongoing bankruptcy proceedings.
Right now, the future of The Limited is in jeopardy — and even if it does come back, will it be the same? Or will it follow the path of its former sister brand Limited Too, which went on to become a mere impersonation of its once gloriously glittery self?
I don’t know the answers, but what I do know is that I owe a lot to The Limited. My personal style was in large part derived from that store and that brand.
The clothes were the ultimate confidence boosters. I was empowered to dream and see beyond the confines of my local mall. In the fitting room I may have been a little girl or a college student playing dress up, but in reality, I was becoming the woman I’d always wanted to be.