I Love My Music Top

Forever 21: home to hot dresses for the cluuub, knock-off American Apparel velour bodysuits for $15.80, and tank tops that cost less than your round-trip MetroCard to get to the store itself. Out of all the cheap clothing chains, it is the most cutting edge in terms of fashion, featuring original, yet wearable designs. However, it’s also haphazardly stocked, fraught with long lines, and justifiably clogged with dazed tourists and natives.

Oddly enough for this native New Yorker, the solution lies in Times Square. The four-level, 90,000 square foot flagship Forever 21 located at 1540 Broadway in the heart of capitalism’s jizz is as neat, sparsely populated, and well-stocked as if you broke in to go shopping in the middle of the night. That’s because this mega-Forever 21 is indeed open to the public until 2am nightly. You can thank my penchant for the Q train (Times Square to Brooklyn in three stops? Yes, always!) and bout of unemployment (shopping at midnight on a Wednesday…) for this wonderful discovery.

Color Splash DressDespite the curse or privilege of these circumstances, there is nothing shame-worthy about breezing through elbow-free aisles, not waiting in line for a dressing room, taking in as many items as you want, and then not waiting in line to pay. I imagined that these conditions were a fluke: shouldn’t there be a rowdy drunk contingent or some homeless individuals trying to sleep amongst the leggy mannequins? On a recent excursion, I asked my surprisingly chipper cashier whether I had missed out on the crazies that night, and was informed that the craziest people come during the daytime hours.

Out of the eighteen items I hauled to the fitting room, I settled on a 1970s-style printed maxi-skirt for $17.90. It sits high on my waist, and would go well with a crop-top or chunky sweater. As long as you don’t mind a potentially sketchy subway ride home and a weekday morning shopping hangover, you can satisfy your broke-ass budget without the hassle.
Sure, you love Forever21 as much as the next fashion obsessed, financially stressed woman, but the store can be utterly overwhelming. If you’ve got time to spare, shopping in store at Forever 21 can be a blast- racks, stacks, hooks and shelves filled with new fashions. But, if you’re strapped for time and find yourself puzzled as to how they fit so much into a single space, maybe you should try shopping at

How to Shop Forever21

Destroyed Denim ShortKnow Before You Go. One thing is true of all things Forever 21- quantity reigns high over quality. You can get ten tops for about 100 bucks if you try hard enough- but don’t expect them to last forever. One of the biggest problems with low quality items is finding a good fit. Always, always, try everything on when shopping at Forever 21. When shopping online at, any returns will cost you big time (see the wretched return policy below). Therefore, it is absolutely crucial to know your body and what clothing styles work well for you before making any purchases.

Understand the Brands. Forever 21 has expanded their line of trend-friendly low-cost clothes to include Heritage 1981 and Twelve by Twelve brands. Looking for something a little more casual? Heritage 1981 channels casual wear with a homely retro feel, sort of like a cheap Urban Outfitters. Twelve by Twelve, the higher priced brand available only in select stores and online, is a bit more fashion forward with designs heavily influenced by the runways.

Be Sure to Snoop on Sale Items. It doesn’t hurt to check out the Forever21 sale bins. When shopping online, the sale link in the upper right-hand corner will take you to a large listing of the recently reduced.

Accessorize Your World. One of the best things about Forever 21 is the sparkling accessories section, with scarves, hats, bags, wallets, clutches, belts, jewelry, etc, etc, etc- you can find it all at F21. The store also has a shoe section, think a more fashion forward Payless, with prices around the $25 mark.

A Shout-Out for Outerwear. Though winter is nearly past us (thank goodness), Forever 21 is a great place for on trend outerwear at low prices. Coats, jackets and blazers in every style, pattern and color. While, the coats aren’t really warm and probably won’t last into next season, the low price allows you to get your full cost per wear.

The Return Policy. If there was one “catch” to shopping at Forever 21, this would definitely be it. The return policy. Scratch that. The exchange policy. Forever 21 doesn’t allow in-store returns. Period. Have you ever tried to physically return something at Forever 21? The salespeople are ruthless. Instead, Forever 21 offers exchanges only within 30 days of purchase for most items (emphasis on most). Gift cards, cosmetics and jewelry items are all final sale all the time, in store or online. Which is why we advise shopping online, because you do have the option for a return- but must foot the shipping fee. Otherwise, exchanges for online purchases can be made at any Forever 21 or sister store. The lesson to be learned here? Check, double-check, triple-check your cart before cashing out.

For Style Inspiration, Shop By… Take an e-shopping short-cut with the Shop by Outfit and Shop by Trend options. A great wardrobe starts with an initial inspiration- and there’s no need to spend much moola on fashion mags to find it. Click on either of the Shop By links to find items that fit in with the season’s trends. Pick and choose from the pieces you love- just don’t fall into a trap of needing it all. Forever 21 does a good job with their visual merchandising. Keep an eye on those dressed to impress mannequins for that extra boost in inspiration.

Shop the Daily 21. Click on the Daily 21 Specials tab on the Forever 21 homepage for 20% off 21 different items every day. Just a reminder- the prices at Forever 21 are already pretty cheap, so, 20% won’t seem like a major discount on a $9.98 shirt, but a penny saved is a penny earned, making the Daily 21 worth a peek.

Daily Dose of Everything

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Daily Dose of Everything