A term I coined last year "Trendasaurus Rex" applies perfectly when it comes to Forever 21. If you see a trend in a magazine and you decide your mental well being depends on owning this particular trend but your wallet just can't support your fanciful notions or Fashionista Status, Forever 21 is the place to go. They do not hold back, on anything, ever. This store is my first and generally only resort when I need to stock up on things that will probably be taboo by this time next year. The advantage? You'd be hard-pressed to spend over $20 on any particular item. This place is Mecca for the thrifty Fashionista.
As you can read see from my review, I'm a bit of a LOFT junky. The colors that the design team and manufacturers for this store produce blow me away season to season. LOFT really knows how to make a woman look good without making her look like a Soccer Mom. Live. Love. LOFT.
See the full review, "Attention LOFTy Fashionistas, This Store Isn't Just for Mom".
I've always loved Target for the "one stop shop" ideal. With their recent collaborations with International Fashion designers like Jean Paul Gaultier, Anna Sui, and Rodarte, Target has modified their archetype of convenience and injected it with just enough savvy to place it on a list like this. Where else can you go to get deodorant, Season 4 of Grey's Anatomy, a plastic Christmas tree, and a two piece bathing suit?
I equate shopping at Goodwill with binging on caviar. Eating so much of something that good is hard to do because you must have vast amounts of it. At Goodwill, when you're on, you're really on. I rarely leave that place with less than heaps of clothing and I definitely do not spend more than 20 dollars. Goodwill has a stigma about it that it is full of dirty castoffs. This is not true, you just need to dig. And as a reward for your steadfastness and patience, you receive tons unique clothes for a great price and you know you're helping out a great cause.
Despite my reservations about the H&M company as a whole, I can't stay away. Much like Forever 21 their stuff is uber-trendy and very cheap. The only reason I put H&M way down at #5 is that I feel like their between season collections are always sparse and drab. On the other hand, H&M's accessory collection is amazing and affordable.
Like with H&M, the business practices of American Apparel bug me, but they have great stuff. I would certainly shop here more often if it wasn't so pricey. American Apparel has a really nice balance of classic basics and trendy strange things.
The Forever 21 of shoes as far as I'm concerned. Did you see a great pair of wedge heels in a fashion magazine? They were $1000? Have no fear, Payless will have them and you will certainly pay less. One of my favorite things about the store is their website because you can order straight from it or have the shoes shipped to your local Payless and pick them up there. They also have been dabbling in the celebrity designer realm, producing collections by Christian Siriano and the Alice & Olivia brand.
Forever 21, on expensive steroids. (Maybe I shouldn't say that because I desperately want to work for their corporate offices but...) Urban Outfitters and the company as a whole (including Anthropologie and Free People brands) has an aesthetic that is constantly in flux and always beautiful. Not only is their merchandise unique and exciting but shopping in the physical stores themselves is an experience worth noting.
I pop in Express whenever I see those infamous "Shop the Box Sale" reminders in my email. I never buy fullprice there because there is no need to. I actually am generally more attracted to their men's clothes than I am to the women's. I think their men's line is unparalleled in mall retail.
Plato's Closet really only works if you go in and shop with a "label snob" mentality. If you do, it's great and totally worth the trip. Last time I went I got an unworn Kenneth Cole dress, a Fredricks of Hollywood dress, and a Tommy Hilfiger dress, all for less than $15 apiece. If you go with specific pieces in mind, you will go nuts. Avoid buying for color or price because the stuff is usually "well loved" (aka beaten to death) by its previous owner. If you have a closet bursting full of stuff, take a huge bagfull in and you are sure to make at least a few bucks off of them, especially if you are trying to sell big-ticket items like outerwear and jeans.