The Frugal Fashionista: Smells Like Teen Spirit

Recessionistas, there are plenty of stores out there that offer super cute clothes at super low prices. The problem is, you probably think you’re too old to shop there. Or maybe I’m just speaking for myself. But here are a few shops that you should check out if you can endure Jonas Brothers and Soulja Boy songs blaring overhead.

Body Central (formerly known at Body Shop) — This store is like my little secret. Okay, so it’s not actually a secret since it’s a national chain retailer with a catalog and website. But when I mention it most my friends have no idea what I’m talking about so I consider it a gem. Body Central is my spot for snagging the perfect party top. I can go there hours before an event and find a top that’s flirty, fun and under 20 bucks. Once you’ve got your top go over to the jewelry section and pick out a pair of $6 earrings to match. Need a clutch? They’ve got that too. You can even occasionally find work-appropriate attire. Don’t be intimidated if the window displays are a bit hoochy. There are plenty of skank-free gems inside. Side note: Last time I was there (which much to my frugal husband’s chagrin was like a week ago) TLC’s “What About Your Friends” (remember that song?!) came on while I was in the dressing room. And yes I did start dancing. How else was I to know if that top I was trying on would really work for me?

Claire’s — I haven’t been in this store in months, even though it’s a great place to go if you need some cheap, last minute jewelry for a party. Several months ago a friend of mine said she was browsing through a local Claire’s when the store clerk asked her if she was shopping for her daughter! Sure, this happened to my friend and not me, but considering my pal looks at most three years older than me, I’m going to stay away so I’m not called “the cool aunt.” (On the bright side, while my friend was there she did find an elegant ring with a big, beautiful black stone for only $5!)

Forever 21 –This store was suggested by a reader (thanks, Jennifer). Despite the low prices, Forever 21 gear can hold up well if you take care of it. I have two blazers and a skirt that I bought four years ago that I still wear. Okay. So, I can’t button the blazers anymore and the skirt is shorter, but I’m pretty sure that has more to do with too much Mexican food than poor fabric quality. Despite those finds, it’s been years since I stepped foot in a Forever 21 because the last time I did I felt like I’d stumbled onto the set of “Mean Girls.” Everyone was skinny, 16 or younger and either talking or texting on a Beadazzled cell phone. And there was whining. Lots of whining. I really could have used some TLC to drown them out.

DOTS — I’ve mentioned this store, before but I must say once again that if you need a cheap dress for an event or just because, this is the place to go. They have juniors and plus sizes so you don’t have to go on a diet before you go shopping.

Wet Seal — I have a sexy white dress I bought from here years ago, but the last time I tried to wear it out I looked at myself in the mirror and decided it didn’t go with my wedding ring. This place is always up on the latest trends, though. It’s definitely worth a visit.

5-7-9 — Another trendy spot and while I can still wear a 9 juniors size, barely, after these purchases I always feel like I need to give up bread and cheese to make sure I can actually fit in the item in the weeks to come. So for now I’ll stick to stores like Express and New York & Company where I can buy sizes like 6 and 8 and then go eat nachos. But if you are around a size 5 in juniors, go check this place out. (And, I hate you, by the way.)



  1. I’d add H&M to this list, should you have them where you live. I fell in love with the store the moment I came to nyc. I have heard a lot about DOTS lately, seems they’ve made a come up since I was younger. Too bad they don’t have them here in concrete-jungle-land!

  2. H&M is definitely a great place for cheap chic. (I didn’t include it here because it doesn’t really feel like a store I’m too old to shop in like Forever 21 and the others. But I’ve mentioned it in a previous post.) We don’t have one here in Bluegrass Land though, which sucks for me.

  3. LOL at the Claire’s story. I forgot about that.

    Another good place for inexpensive jewelry is The Icing. It’s owned by the same company as Claire’s so they still have glitter sticks and Jonas Brothers wallets at the counter, but they also have a good selection of jewelry that doesn’t look super cheap. (But it still is!)

    I usually go during the weekdays, when there aren’t tons of teenagers there. And nobody has asked me if I’m shopping for my daughter… yet.

  4. i can’t wear anything from any of these places but despite that i agree they are great places to shop for cheap jewelery and other accessories.

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