Can I shop in Forever 21 at age 42?
Despite its name, Forever 21 is very much a fast fashion, youth-focussed brand. It is, however, one of only a handful global fashion giant chain stores in my town and it’s cheap. So, can I still get away with shopping there, even though I am twice the nominal age? I decided to hit the summer collections for a try-on session to find out.
It being summer, there were quite a lot of acid bright pieces, but they’re also doing a good line in mustard, rust and other more muted shades at the moment, so I still managed to find two of each of the following to try: maxi dress, knee-length dress, lightweight pants and jumpsuit. Here are the results:
I loved the palm print of the navy/green ($19.90), but the slightly weird separate arm holes were very tight and unflattering around my bingo wings. This dress was a medium and I think it’s fair to conclude (from this and just about everything else I tried on) that I am officially a size large at F21 (they do offer traditional sizes in some items, but not all). That said, I looked at the large and the armhole was not much bigger. No cigar here.
The mustard color ($29.90) was pretty and fit a lot better, but there wasn’t much room for anything else in there with me (probably not even a cup of coffee). Again it was an M and I could have done with an L. The side slits and fact that the buttons stopped pretty high up (effectively creating a front split) made me think – possibly middle agedly – that this could only really be worn as a beach cover up. Certainly, it’s not providing the coverage that I’d normally be happy to hide behind in a maxi. Again, not a winner.
The beige linen trousers were a simple, classic shape and almost worked. The cut around the hips and pockets just wasn’t quite right (not really surprising for an original price of$22.90). But the material was a decent weight and the reduced price of $15 was unbeatable.
The animal print wide legs ($19.90) were very cool. Again, a size medium was a bit too up close and personal around the waist, and the legs were an inch or two too long, so the fit wasn’t a winner for me unfortunately. A size up, paired with heels could work for a cheap, cool (both senses) summer outfit though.
The red/purple number ($14.90) surprised me. I preferred it on the body to the hanger, which doesn’t happen often. It was 100% man made fibers, which could lead to a sweat-fest once the temperatures rise, but it would never crease and hangs nicely. I’m not a fan of being braless though and this dress probably requires it, or a cleverly shaped strapless one.
The more straightforward strap arrangement on the darker print dress ($19.90) fitted my lingerie requirements better, i.e. I could get away with a bra underneath it. Again, I was pleasantly surprised with how it looked on, but I did feel a bit naked and exposed. My days in skimpy dresses like this (other than on the beach) may be over.
I tried on a clingy bright green jumpsuit ($17.90), so I shouldn’t be surprised it showed off every lump and bump. That said, with the right underwear (read heavy duty Spanx), it could work and it was super fun.
The black jumpsuit ($17.90) is wearable only for 2 days a year. It’s made of sweatshirt material, so finding a day when it’s warm enough to bear your shoulders but cool enough to wear heavy sweats is likely to be a challenge. Plus the material doesn’t hang well. Basically it’s a no.
So, my clothing mission was mixed at best.
It’s a big “it depends” when it comes to Forever 21 clothing over 40: It depends on size, cut, material and underwear, mainly. Get those right and you could find and amazing bargain that really works for you.
However, there are some other areas where they excel and you might still find rich pickings….
For between $10 and $30 you can snag some very trend-savvy summer flats and not have to worry that they’re compatible with your lingerie (unless you’re wearing them in a really avant-garde way). These orangey-red variations were tempting, as was the special offer on the sandal rack (including some woven mules I loved but which were just too uncomfortable, sadly).
Clearly you’re not going to head to Forever 21 for investment leather boots (or indeed anything you need to be extremely comfortable or hard wearing) but, for summer flats you might only wear for one season before donating, its a good option.
This rattan clutch would be great for a summer wedding and at $19.90 would not break the bank. And the F21 jewelry has been on point for the last few seasons - check out these earrings which were all around $7 (plus the “buy 2 get 1 free” offer on some).
I might even venture to say that the Forever 21 plus range is better than their standard range. They definitely have some cool, edgy pieces in that line that they don’t have anywhere else. It has its own Instagram feed too, which is a good source of inspiration.
Since it’s “Festival Season”, the mannequins looked a little more fancy-dress than normal, but they did look cool. Yes, bigger women can rock jean shorts and look amazing. Thanks F21 for knowing that.
Sleepwear and Underwear
How adorable are these short shark-print PJs ($24.90)? And this bralet set? Granted, if you need proper support or a non-standard size, you won’t be buying your bras here. But, if you can get away with bralets and an A-D cup, you could save some serious cash.