Friday, July 1, 2011

Top Ten Stores to Build a Wardrobe

1. Old Navy
I posted a couple of weeks ago about the awesomeness that Old Navy. The sizes are always wrong but seeing a smaller number, even if it's a blatant lie, always makes me feel a little cheerier. Also, I think that all my nicer pants, like khakis and trousers, are from Old Navy, too. Another plus is their huge swimsuit collection. One piece, mix and match bikinis, you name it, they probably have it covered.
2. Forever 21
The quality at Forever 21 is utter crap, I'll say that up front. However, if your in need of cheap staples, like camis, they are the place to go. They have just about every color and they are only $2.50. So for ten dollars, you can have two neutrals and two brights and have 95% of your wardrobe covered. Also, while most of their accesories fall apart (I have super-glued more than one pair of earrings and have a necklace that I can't wear in the summer because it turns my neck green when I sweat), they are cute and cheap.
3. Target
I could walk into any Target and know that I could easily walk out with something. The beauty of Target is that so much of their clothing department are pure staples: t-shirts, cardigans, and tank tops. However, the thing you need to be careful of at Target is that is is very mass produced. Don't buy anything that's very distinct looking because you will run into someone else you know who has the exact same item. A basic t-shirt is easier to overlook than a floral sundress.

One of my favorites at Target is their bra selection. It doesn't matter if other people have it because who would ever know? Their bras aren't all over-padded like at Victoria's Secret and they just seem to fit me better. Oh yeah, and they don't cost $50+! Their purses wear out fairly quickly if you rely on one every day, but they have classic designs for cheap so they are easy to replace.
4. ModCloth
This is my favorite store for distinct pieces. They specialize in dresses, most of them shorter than they claim, but their jewelry and blouse selection are fairly large, too. They cater more to a hipster sort of vibe, but they also can go very romantic and whimsical. Two warnings about ModCloth:
1) Their merchandise goes very quickly. If it's a new arrival and you like it, you have to buy it within two days. After that, you can almost guarentee your size will be gone. However, they have recently added a "Back in Stock" section which I love. You can see reviews from people to know if it is a good purchase (the picture reviews are the best thing ever).
2) The materials they use can be kind of sketchy. A lot of synthetics that don't stretch or breathe. Be careful to expand the "Details" section of a piece before you fall in love with anything.
5. Buffalo Exchange
Or your equivalent high-end thrift store. Their inventory is highly scrutinized and they have a great return policy on most of their stuff so you don't really need to worry about the fact that it is "pre-loved". The dress I wear to weddings is a second-hand blue Calvin Klein blue satin dress from Buffalo. I'm pretty sure someone used it as a bridesmaid's dress before, but it's in great condition and I love the color. It's much easier to buy a distinct piece at a store like this without worrying if someone else has it. Also, the only designer labels I have are second-hand. They hold up well because of the high-quality.
6. Victoria's Secret
I don't actually ever buy anything at Victoria's Secret. The trick is to order one thing online from them and, although you will get a catalog every other week for the rest of your life, they will send you a coupon for free panties once every three months. So find a bra or top on sale on their website and enjoy a lifetime of free panties.
7. Dillards
While I find most of Dillard's clothing overpriced, I do love their sale on coats and jackets. The ideal time to hit them up is January, once the winter season is dying down and to take advantage of the post-Christmas sales. 
8. Express
My favorite blouses for work are from Express. While their merchandise is usually out of my budget, they send me a coupon almost every two weeks that make it livable. Their blouses are well-cut and in gorgeous colors. They are practical and of fairly high quality. The first time I bought a blouse from Express, I went back a week later and bought two more in different colors. A little tip, a lot of their stuff looks ridiculous on the hanger, so start with the pieces that are on the mannequins.
9. Etsy
I LOVE Etsy. If I could only buy jewelry from one place, it would be Etsy. They have incredible diversity in their selection. I love that my purchase is supporting an artist who put time and love into each piece. The quality is higher than you would find in most stores. And, most importantly, every piece is individual. I love looking through their collection just to get ideas for jewelry too. My wedding band is based on the rings I loved most on Etsy.
10. Zappos
While I haven't been able to keep any of the shoes I've purchased through Zappos, I love their selection, the prices, and especially the return policy. I've got my eye on a pair of boots that will be one of the first things I buy once all this house drama is behind us and I can shop again. One day, one of their pairs will be perfect and be allowed to stay.

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