Haute & Dangerous: How to Shop at Forever 21 Without Wanting to Die

They say that good things come to those who wait. This cliche is perhaps best exemplified by the popular cheapie fashion retailer Forever 21 and the fact that if you can keep your cool long enough to keep your shopping spree from turning into a killing spree, you can walk out with a bunch of cute clothes for dirt cheap. Here are a few tips to help you keep your cool before the racks (and racks) of inventory begin to close in all around you….


Harvey MacKay (whoever that is) once said, “Failure to plan is planning to fail.” This past weekend, my impromptu pilgrimage to the massive four story Forever 21 shopping mecca on Newbury Street in downtown Boston inevitably ended in a planned failure on my part. Rather that the Spring wardrobe essentials I had planned on purchasing, I emerged 2 1/2 hours later with more cheap jewelry than the entire cast of Toddlers & Tiaras combined, and a wolf T-shirt guaranteed to convince everyone I have contact with on a daily basis that I buy all my clothes at Midwestern truck stops. Had I planned ahead I would have sufficiently perused the Forever 21 website, made a careful list of items to purchase based on figure, complexion, and life situation (cute sundresses and summer sandals for the office instead of neon yellow… anything). In these situations, it’s best to behave like Santa: make a list, check it twice, buy outfits for when your’e feeling naughty and nice!

Try Stuff On

It can be incredibly tempting to eyeball a pair of jeans and a few tops and say, “Eh, close enough!” especially when the line for the dressing room is comprised of a massive hoard of sulky pre-teens armed with an armful of short shorts and tee shirts with sayings like “Weekend Warrior” and/or “I’ll be your girlfriend if you buy me a 30 of Coors Light” (That last one was a joke). Regardless, your’e always better off trying clothes on, especially at a retailer like Forever 21 where the cut isn’t exactly haute-couture caliber.

Be Clique-y

Does this color look good on me? 

Do I really need this?

When am I ever going to wear this sequined bandeau top/Will I look like a loser?

These are important questions to ask yourself while shopping for clothes. At the same time, it’s just as important to ask yourself how/why you’re buying. Just like all other arena’s of life, it’s important to shop with a group of positive-minded individuals whose opinions you trust and respect. At the same time, if shopping in a group is too much of a distraction, it’s completely fine to go it alone. Lone wolfs are the bees knees (as for individuals with lone wolf T-shirts, I’ll have to get back to you on that one).

Think About the Future

Yeah that cropped suit jacket with padded shoulders is super cute in it’s present state — on an inanimate, plastic, size 2 mannequin in a perfectly lit store window. But how well is a $30 blazer going to hold up after a few wears? It’s only a matter of time before you’re left with faded rags and a hefty dry-cleaning bill. One of the most important lessons of style is the one that says that splurging on better quality investment pieces (blazers, great denim, the perfect little black dress) is always the cheaper option.

There’s Always a Way Out

No, seriously. If you become sufficiently stressed by the blinding halogen lights, thumping club tracks, and overly-competitive fashionistas ready to shank you with a hanger if you steal the last pair of metallic leggings, just get up and leave and take an Auntie Anne’s break. Given the sheer volume of inventory in a Forever 21 location at any given time, the fear that all the clothes will be gone by the time you get back is about as justifiable as an ongoing paranoid delusion that the Loch Ness Monster is going to steal your boyfriend.

Photo by Dwight Burdette

Kayla Brown Kayla Brown is the author of the “Boston Babe Sports Bible” series and TNGG's weekly fashion column, "Haute and Dangerous" (inspired by a Ke$ha song). She hopes to one day channel her debilitating caffeine addiction into the noble art of copywriting. Her interests include watching YouTube videos of cute animals doing funny things. If you think you can handle it, follow her on Twitter: @kjbrown22.

View all posts by Kayla Brown

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