Forever 21

The Evolution Of A Forever 21 Shopper

When I first met Forever 21, I had just graduated high school and was transforming from an Abercrombie gal to something more “edgy” (whatever the eff that meant). I remember purchasing a tube top dress that had apples all over it thinking it was quirky and “out there.” See below? Yeah … I don’t know what I was thinking either.

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F21 was there for me when I needed something spectacular to wear for my 21st birthday and had little to no money to my name. The dress I bought I deemed “F21 couture” simply because it cost more than $30 and was sparkly.

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And below, yep, this is basically what I wore every night out in college. A sultry “going out” top from Forever 21, boot cut jeans, no coat in the middle of the winter, and heels. Uh huh … I bet you’re enjoying this.

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When I graduated college, I moved back home and was completely lost in life. I was making money, but thought luxury was being able to buy everything and anything at F21 since for so long I had to make $20 go far. I also did NOT take care of my clothing (it literally all lived on my bedroom floor). Oh yeah … and I also wanted to be Lady Gaga … desperately. You can tell by the sunglasses I bought at … you guessed it … F21, duck face, and sparkly shirt I’m wearing below (I actually still have that top). (Good God, self). 

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For the past two years or so, I’ve taken a break from Forever 21, simply because there wasn’t one close to me, leading me to explore other stores and my sense of style. Not to mention Philly has really upped its shopping game adding a Century 21, which, quite frankly, made me the happiest person on the planet. 

I started investing in “pieces” and better brands. I became friends with dry cleaners and cobblers, and started to take an interest in my closet organization. Never again did a piece of my hard earned clothing ever take refuge on my bedroom floor (unless I was hungover)

But this past weekend I went back to my old stomping grounds of F21. It was kind of like visiting my alma-mater. The familiar overwhelming feeling of being faced with racks and racks stuffed with too many clothes warmed my soul. 

Instead of collecting everything and anything that caught my eye to try on like I did once upon a time, I found myself feeling the fabric, looking at the quality, and seeing if the piece was “timeless” instead of “trendy.” 

A camel-colored coat caught my eye, so I tried it on. Me five years ago would have purchased it and thought she resembled Kim Kardashian. But modern day me was too caught up in how the fabric looked wrinkled and cheap, something a camel coat should never be, regardless if it was $60, so I passed. 

After trying on 14 items, I walked away with one. One. A plain jane sweater that was snuggly and something I needed to go with a dress I already owned. What had happened to me and F21?

I was certain that when I turned 30, 40, even 50, I would still be shopping at Forever 21. But as I walked out of the store, I kind of felt like I was turning around and saying, “it’s me … not you!” I knew we were breaking up … and it made me incredibly sad. 

People like to hate on Forever 21 and say it’s cheap and silly. I know for a fact without it existing, I could have never explored and found my personal style so easily. And I’m not saying we broke up because I’m so fancy now and only shop at Saks Fifth Avenue and wear Manolo Blaniks and turn my nose up at it :::hair flip:::. Hell no. I have the highest respect for F21. I just think my taste has grown-up a bit. I’m 28, for crying out loud, it happens.

With all of this being said, would I re-think the apple tube dress? Meeeeeh probably.


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