forever 21 lace dress 5

Can you all believe that this little dress is Forever 21?  It’s fantastic!  I sized up from my regular xs to a large in this and I LOVE the fit.  It’s all about knowing what you’re looking at and what you’re searching for with this store!  This little dress fits all of my shopping criteria for the store.  I thought I would share with you how I navigate and find the hidden gems of Forever 21.

Forever 21 can be a daunting place to shop.  In between the loud music (gosh, I’m getting old), and the plethora of options as soon as you walk in the door it’s a little overwhelming.  Forever 21 is a great place for fast fashion, the items that you will only wear once or twice and be done with within a season.  They’re products often are not built with extreme quality, but that is to be expected for their price.  That being said, if you look hard enough, you will find some real gems that have the ability to last you a significant amount of time!  There are a few criteria that I seem to follow every time I shop there:

1. Go in with Patience:

If you are going to shop this store, be sure that you have some time on your hands and some happiness in your heart.  In order to have an effective trip, you will need to be in the mood to hunt for something great…I try to think of it like I would a treasure hunt.  There are always a few great pieces mixed in with the rest of the items.  You have to be in a good mood where you can patiently find them.

2. Shop Smartly:

There are two mindsets that you can take on to effectively shop this store:  fast fashion or good quality.  If you are going for a fast fashion piece (something UBER TRENDY) that you only need to wear once or twice, anything in the store is fair game.  Now, if you are going in for quality pieces, you need to really look at the items at hand.

3. Size up:

Forever 21 seems to have the idea that everything needs to be short and tight.  I cannot stand that style.  It often times just comes across as cheap and tacky.  To remedy this, size up…one or two sizes.  In every store, I am consistently an xs.  However, in Forever 21, I hold up the garment and think about what looks like my size without looking at the label.  I will grab that size & I also take a size up from that as well and head to the dressing room with both!  Sizing up makes your items look more expensive.  I would rather have something fit loose and than tight any day.  The two exceptions to this rule are when something is made to fit boyfriend size & when purchasing a dress (just be careful with hemlines…but everything is pretty much perfect for Vegas).

4. Shop Love 21:

As soon as you enter the store, head to this section.  It often holds the better quality fabrics and construction than the rest of the store.  It’s aimed at their older demographic.  More often than not, the items I find are from this section.  They tend to be the ones that fit all of the criteria for shopping there that I have.

5. Pay Attention to Fabric:

Avoid thin fabrics…no matter how cute.   It will end up ripping on you or mangled in the wash.  Worse yet, it could create a fashion disaster.  To test, hold it up to the light, if you can see through it, put it back.  Also, you can check by seeing if you can see your hand through the other side of the fabric.

6. Check the Seams:

On any item, gently pull the two sides of the fabric on either side of the seam apart.  If you can see the threads with a little bit of space through them, hang it up and walk away.  It will most likely rip or tear quickly.  If the threading is tighter and you don’t feel that you could easily rip it apart or see any loose threads, you may proceed to checkout.

7. Look for natural fibers:

This means you need to check labels.  Look for cotton, linen, silk-blends, or wool.  These will probably be better bets in the long run than the synthetic fabrics.  Some of their polyester fabrics are okay, but be sure to do a seam and fabric transparency check.

8. Shop Early:

Forever 21 can be a mess by the afternoon.  However, early in the morning, it’s still organized.  Everything is much easier to navigate before the hordes of teenage girls come through and move everything around.  I don’t know about you but, if a store is organized, I’m more willing to make an effort to try to find something.  Don’t wait until the afternoon or you’ll want to quit before you start.

9. Pre-Shop:

Scout out their website and write down item numbers/screenshot items you’re interested in.  When you get to the store, show a smiling associate your list of a few items and have them help you to locate them.  There’s so much that sometimes you need help from someone who works there just to find it.

10. Care for Forever 21 Items Appropriately:

The main reason Forever 21 is frustrating for me is that I can’t always expect items that I put in the wash to come out of the washer looking exactly like what I put in.  For Forever 21 clothes that I want to last more than one wear, I hand wash them with Woolite in the sink or on gentle cycle and then line dry them.

***Bonus: Style it!

Pair your favorite Forever 21 items with some good basic pieces made of great fabrics.  I personally love to pair my Forever 21 pieces up with items made of real leather or great jewelry.  The perfect thing to add to a Forever 21 ensemble is a great full leather handbag or leather shoes.  Good jewelry will also help to take your finds to the next level.  Pairing one investment piece with your budget finds instantly makes them look much more expensive.  This does not mean that these investment pieces need to be designer but simply great quality goods (look for 100% leather, great denim, etc.)

Hope this was helps you on your next shopping excursion!  What’s been your best Forever 21 find?  Let me know in the comments below!



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|  Dress:  Forever 21 (Fit:  Size up; I’m in a size large.)  (similar here, here, & here)  |  Flats:  Chanel  (love this less expensive version)  |  Denim Jacket:  Old Navy (new version here; mine’s over a decade old)  | Handbag:  Saint Laurent  | Bracelet:  Hermes  |  Watch:  Michele  |  Sunnies:  Karen Walker  |


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