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How to survive shopping at Forever 21

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The loud music and smell of cheap perfume, the feelings of irritation and insecurity; it  reminds me of my 20s. But wait. This isn’t MY 20s. It’s my daughter’s TEEN years, and it’s when I go shopping with her at Forever 21.

The shop is HUGE. The florescent lights and loud music don’t create any kind of harmonious atmosphere. If anything, it creates an ambiance of ‘I want to get the hell out of here’ atmosphere.  The clothing is shoved onto overcrowded metal rounders. Mediocre craftsmanship at best. Probably some poor Asian sweat shop stitched them together. The clothing is sometimes ripped or shredded. And that’s on purpose.

You ask, if I hate it so much, why go? Well, because she doesn’t fit into Gymboree clothes anymore, and the last time I tried to coordinate her tights with her headband, she was still growing in her front teeth.

Now we are in full blown teen years. So we like to be cool and on trend (to a point). And that means, shopping where the cool kids shop. Well, cool kids on a budget. Because the other place they shop is Lululemon and Nordstrom, and ain’t nobody got time for that- or money really. So this is the best we can do.

If you have to navigate such a store as Forever 21 with your teen, tween, or even 20 something offspring- here’s my advice:


1. Bring wine. Really. This will help you induce the coping mechanisms that need to be in place when shopping with a teen anyway. The music is so loud you might as well start numbing your senses with alcohol.

2. Bring a chair. That’s right. Just a camping chair will do. You might get some funny looks, but then other parents will see what a genius you are. There isn’t a single sitting surface in this store. It’s 2000 square feet of crammed racks of cheap ass clothes, and not one bench. What if old people are shopping with their grand kids? Seriously, you will want to sit down while it takes an hour for your child to wander through all the merchandise. But you can’t. So bring a chair.

3. Bring earplugs. See #1.

4. Wear comfortable shoes. If you forget your chair to sit on, at least wear comfortable shoes. This will help when standing in that horrific line that weaves throughout bins of $2 nail polish and neon vinyl cosmetic pouches.

5. If your daughter is taking too long to decide on which mullet skirt she’ll look cute in, start trying on hats and jewelry in the accessories section. Just pile them on and speak in a loud voice. It won’t be long for your daughter to send you out of the store and want to get the hell out of there for sheer embarrassment.

6. Be sure to have your daughter try on the clothes before buying them. It’s an exchange only policy. So you’ll have to come BACK to the store and shop for more things instead of just getting your money back if it ends up not fitting. Do it right the first time. Trust me.

7. Sometimes there’s a line for the dressing room, and there’s definitely no little chairs or benches like at Ann Taylor Loft. So refer to #2 and get out that chair while you wait.

8. In all seriousness, find someone with a driver’s license that you trust your child in the care of and send them along with lots of cash. Tell them you have a migraine.  And just stay home while they go instead.

9. Drink more wine.

10. Hope and pray that there’s a  CEO out there that some day, will come up with a store that girls will WANT to shop in and it’s affordable, pleasant, and mimosas are served on trays for the moms, with plenty of seating and comfy couches. I will buy stock in that utopia if it ever exists.

God speed moms everywhere.



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  1. Ugh….and double Ugh……I think your #5 is perfect….I’d do that…but my grands think I’m such a hoot, they’d prob join me….so I think #8 …. sending along a personal shopper, companion, who ever is brave and has enough energy to accompany said youth is perfect….I’ll join you at home with a nice tall ‘cold’ glass of…… well done luv…..

  2. Is it wrong that I’m drinking ALREADY at the prospect of walking in there??

  3. Jen @ Real Life Parenting says:

    I’m all about #5 … Except that, depending on her mood, she’ll join me and want to take pics of us in the most ridiculous getups we can put together. She’s like her Mama, I guess!!

  4. Exchange only? That’s pretty bold. Eh, could be worse. And by worse, of course I mean Abercrombie & Fitch.

  5. Christopher Tipper says:


    1 comment and 1 question
    1) Is it legal to consume alcohol in a public retail environment? If so I’m thinking that maybe next year’s birthday present from me to you is a nice hip flask.
    2) Carrying on with the camping theme and regarding #6 – why don’t you bring a small tent or some form of portable modesty screen? That’s right. Along with your camping chair, you bring along your own changing room. Why not?


    • I think you’re on to something. I have a flask with a honey badger on it. I should use it more often.

  6. Thank you for the warning and the advice. We’re still shopping at Justice Just For Girls, and clearly Forever 21 is in another league. I’m going to have to put vodka in the water bottle instead of wine. And take a cab.

  7. Bahahaha!! I confess, I go there for myself sometimes. But I avoid it like the plague around Christmas because I cannot handle all the technofied versions of Santa Baby.


    The chair idea is brilliant!

  8. God I’m so glad I don’t have girls!

  9. The place is called Forever 21! WHY is there no bar?? How I wish we lived closer so we could suffer through that misery together. I have straight up sprawled on the floor before. But the real tragedy in our local store? No cell service by the dressing rooms. Ahhhhhhhhh! Ellen

  10. Oh lady, this sounds like the third circle of hell. I cannot imagine. I should count my blessings that right now we are in Gap kids, old navy, and hand-me-downs from my friends with fabulous preschool girls. Thank you for the warning and God only knows what they’ll be wearing in 10 years. Sigh.

  11. …is it bad that Forever 21 only JUST lost its appeal to me about 2 years ago?

  12. I took my daughters (ages 8,10) there this summer because they heard about it from some “YouTuber.” I couldn’t believe the people swarming the racks of tacky, cheaply constructed, and overpriced shit!!!! Thanks for posting an article I can relate to!


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