A Day in the Life of the Savvy Shopper: An Introduction

After a family rendezvous to the mall for a much overdue quest to update my brother’s wardrobe, I found myself overwhelmed by designer labels, commonplace basics, and expensive price tags to match. Not to say that I do not personally melt over a luxurious pair of well-made denim, or that I don’t splurge for pricey pumps because that could not be farther from the truth. But I wonder if lavish brand names have fallen to laziness in an attempt to play it safe, losing a sense of edge and verve along the way. And let’s get real; not every fashionista can afford those triple digit price tags. Thus, following several hours spent styling my brother in everything from Hugo Boss to Theory, I opted to dig for some current additions to my closet on the cheap and consequently found myself walking into a pristine store filled with this season’s must haves. A Forever 21 store in Hong Kong. Natalitiameom/Wikimedia Commons.

From pleather leggings to neon hues, FOREVER 21, while not everyone’s store of choice, seemed to have the mod chicness so many other brands lacked. While many of my friends roll their eyes and scoff at the mere suggestion of entering this store, often times claiming its surplus of merchandise is too overwhelming, or the store itself is too messy for their liking, it appeared clean, organized, and full of many unique and inexpensive items. I walked out of the store confident with my stylish purchases: faux leather leggings, a faux leather circle skirt, a neon lime and black patch-adorned pullover, a geometric black and white blouse with a melon strip of neon around the collar, and a pair of bottle-cap black and white sunglasses to top it all off. Not to mention, my pocketbook was only sixty dollars lighter. With many years of savvy shopping under my belt, I have learned a few key tactics necessary to style smart, especially in lower-priced stores.

1. Try to formulate a mental list of clothing items you need. This prevents aimless purchasing, which will deter the dreaded returns and prevent many from falling victim to the unforgiveable buyers’ remorse. For instance, I knew I was on the hunt for inexpensive pleather leggings and a circle skirt (both staple items this season). Not only was I able to look for these must haves, but I also was able to compare varying styles, fits and hues from one to the next.

2. Give yourself plenty of time. The moment you begin to feel rushed is the moment you head for the door empty handed with all patience exhausted. Also, limited time with such immense varieties of clothing can limit the amount of clothing you will be able to browse. After over an hour of browsing, I finally felt that I had sufficiently scoped out the store and selected some solid options.

3. Try clothing on in the store. While many clothes may appear flattering on the hanger, they may not flatter your body. Seeing as though stores such as FOREVER 21 carry enormous amounts of inventory and have strict return policies, it is important not to speculate in regards to their garments. This also assists in narrowing down decisions between clothing items.

4. Don’t buy for the sake of buying. Stores such as FOREVER 21 can be what I like to call “hit or miss”. Sometimes shoppers leave with bags brimming with bargains and steals, while other times there simply may be nothing in the store that is appealing. Do not let this discourage you, however. Stores as such are constantly stocking new inventory and thus, new styles. If you don't find anything you like, simply try again next time.