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The Night I Wandered Into Forever21 and Lived to Tell About It. » Barnwood and Brick

Barnwood and Brick » Photography, Fashion + Life in the Emerald City

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The Night I Wandered Into Forever21 and Lived to Tell About It.

There are times I question how far I am willing to go to score a deal on things I think I need.

This is one of those times.

It all started innocently enough. After finishing my to-do list at work, I thought I would reward myself with a little evening shopping excursion. I didn’t want to spend too much money (plus I feel like I have to be dressed TO THE NINES to even open the door to walk into JCrew) so I decided to start with a place I don’t usually frequent: H&M. Again, not usually my style, but after about 30 minutes I left with an outfit that would make Cara Loren proud (in fact, it looked strikingly similar to her outfit below, minus the glasses that would make me look like a bug—I’ll post pictures later).

‘Black with Some Stripes” by Cara Loren

Call it over confidence, but at that moment I was in the shopping “zone” and felt like I could tackle anything.  There I was, thinking about the black-and-white stripped top I just purchased and how cute it would look with such-and-such necklace, when suddenly I looked up and found that my feet had led me to the retail store where college paychecks go to die.

I was at Forever21.

I opened the doors. Cue instant wave of anxiety and my inner ADD shopper screaming “WHY DO THEY HAVE SO MUCH STOCK ON THE FLOOR AT ONE TIME?!”. This place makes Ross feel like a quaint, “sorry-but-we-only-carry-ten-items-in-size-2″  boutique on 1st Ave. But at this point, I was on a mission. A mission to prove to this place that I could handle whatever $12.90 item(s) it threw my way. I took a deep breath and walked in.

I usually have the same posture as the mannequin to the left. This store totally gets me.

I usually have the same posture as the mannequin to the left. This store totally gets me.

Ke$ha is playing. Obvioussssly. I make a beeline to the escalator in an attempt to escape to the second floor where I’m told the accessories like to hide. I proceed to almost take out an 11th grader who either magically popped up out of the floor or darted out from behind a rack of dress-length plaid attire. We both survive the near collision. I don’t know for certain if she is in fact an 11th grader, but I make a somewhat educated guess based on the fact that she is wearing a crop top. In February.

I finally lunge myself on to the escalator. Halfway up to the freedom I hope awaits me on second floor, I catch myself tapping my foot. No no no no no. By the time I reach the top, I’ve unofficially declared my candidacy to become Ke$ha’s lead backup vocalist as I sing “throw some glitter, make it raiiiiiin” under my breath. Oh my God, it’s happening. I’m turning back into the college version of myself, Alyssa circa 2007.

You know what this Forever21 tanktop needs? MOARRRR SPARKLEEE!

You know what this Forever21 tanktop could use? MOARRRR SPARKLEEE!

I step off the escalator and turn the corner to witness what the second floor of Forever21 truly is—a place where the fashion trends of 6 months ago live in shame until they are discounted to such ridiculous prices that it’s impossible to justify NOT buying it. I’ve never ever seen so many tribal printed sweaters in one place at one time. I’ve reached the dark underbelly of the discount shopping beast—the place that singlehandily provides the tribal sweater/Aztec print supply for the entire world population of females ages 13 and over.

“STAY THE COURSE!!” I repeat to myself as I try to shield my eyes from the blinding racks of ungodly neon colors not found in nature. I spot the accessories section at the other end of the floor. I twist my way through zebra print crop tops, briefly stop to hold up some items as I ask myself “Is THIS what the kids are wearing these days?!” and start to question my every life decision that has led me to this store on this night after I stumble across this sexy little number below.

"Yer a (bohemian) wizard, Harry."

“Yer a wizard, Harry. Spoiler alert – yer also Bohemian.”

I finally make it to the necklaces + earrings. My efforts are greeted by a graveyard of skulls and crossbones themed jewelry mixed with a neon strawberry or two. I rack my brain to figure out if I have an outfit that would pair well with teenage angst. Nope. Or a hairstyle that would lend itself well to sporting this hat. Negative.

I think they are onto me...

I think they are onto me…

Somehow, amidst the odd partnership of rebellious teenager and farm-girl-on-crack, I reached a station containing exactly 3 necklaces that looked like they could be the younger, pre-pubescent cousin of Jcrew’s line of jewelry. I forgo the necklace titled “Botanical Babe” and opt instead for the “Elegant Faux Stone Bib Necklace” in peach/gold and the “Luxe Faux Stone Bib Necklace” in mint. I briefly wonder if these items earned their namesake during some 9th grade English class competition gone horribly awry. But alas, after a desperation level rivaling that of Kim Kardashian trying to get Kanye to propose on live TV for ratings…ermmm I mean love— sweet, sweet victory was finally MINE.

Luxe Stone Faux Bib Necklace

Luxe Stone Faux Bib Necklace

Elegant Stone Faux Bib Necklace

Elegant Stone Faux Bib Necklace


I left Forever21 feeling like the thrifty, bargain-slayer 26-year-old woman that I am. I braved the 3 levels of garment insanity, and left with the majority of my pride and wallet intact. The best part? The grand total of my purchase was less than $30, which means I had more than enough change left to treat myself to a ridiculously expensive $5 Starbucks beverage for my bus ride home.

Who knew victory would come in a bright yellow bag and taste like a venti skinny caramel macchiato?

Alex F.02/27/2014 - 9:23 pm

The Love 21 line, though. I want all of it. (This also why I only shame shop at F21 online)

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