Just because I'm not a spry and hip little twenty-one year old anymore doesn't mean Forever 21 doesn't still call my name. My husband knows full well if there's one nearby, my shopping radar goes off and we will find it. After years of toting those pretty yellow bags around, I've learned a thing or two about saving money, shopping smart, and what to walk away from!

What to avoid at Forever 21

While there are plenty of things at Forever 21 that are worth the low prices, there are plenty of things at low prices that aren’t worth it (no matter how low the price is). Here are a few things to avoid or be aware of when shopping at Forever 21.

Cardigans

I've tried so many times to purchase cute cardigans (like this one), but every time they fall to pieces in the first wash. I’ve tried washing them on delicate and by hand, but no matter what I do—they literally disintegrate. For just $12.80, they seem to be a good deal, but don't fall for the low price tag—unless you plan to only wear it once!

Avoid dirt-cheap basics

Here's a cami for only $1.90…seems too good to be true, right? It is. I’ve bought a few of these for layering, but after washing them in cold water, and hanging them to dry—they still manage to shrink to doll-sized proportions and end up full of holes. The same thing happens when I buy their t-shirts that fall in the $4 range. You might consider t-shirts or camisoles like this one for $12 at Target instead.

Dresses

Since we don't have a brick-and-mortar store where I live, I have to order online. Make sure you take a very good look at their size charts, particularly in length. Over the last two years, their dress lengths have become increasingly shorter. For reference, I am five-foot-two, and a dress that is around 34-35" will hit me just above the knee. Let's take a look at this dress below. Your budget-savvy self is probably saying, "It’s only $11!"…I know, right? However, it’s just 26" long (so it won't be much of a dress). I recommend either avoiding their dresses (especially if you’re really tall) or to at least make sure and pay extra attention to what length you need.

Bonus Tip: Did you know that you can search by length in their search bar? Just type in a term like 34" and it will help narrow down your choices.

What to buy at Forever 21

Jeans

The first item that I’ve consistently found to be well-made and low-priced are their skinny jeans. They're not the quality of designer jeans, but I’ve found that I can get about one or two years of heavy use from one pair. For the low, regular price of around $7.50-$12.50—you can't beat it! The downside is that the dye will bleed for the first few washes (so make sure to wash them in warm water all by themselves for the first few times). But if you can avoid this pitfall—their jeans are a great deal!

Polyester items

Look for items made of polyester. These tend to wash well, air dry quickly, and not shrink. I've had some of my polyester blouses and dresses from Forever 21 for two or three years, and they still look nice and new! This blouse is adorable, and it’s only $13.80 at its regular price.

 

Outerwear

Forever 21 always has a lot of jackets that are wonderful for the price. Even the items listed under "style deals" have stayed in style throughout the years, like peacoats and rain jackets. While they’re only partially wool or entirely synthetic, they’re cute and they hold up well under heavy wear. I have one coat that has lasted three years through the harsh Oregon winters!

Bonus Tips: The buttons on their coats fall off almost immediately. Sew them on right when you buy them, and you won't risk losing them.

Load up on extra savings!

While Ebates doesn’t offer cash back on Forever 21 purchases online, there are other ways you can stack your savings. I always check RetailMeNot before I place an order, and try a few codes to see if I can snag a little extra percentage off. If I spot a few items I want, I’ll also purchase Forever 21 gift cards at Kroger/Fred Meyer or a similar store, where I’ll earn gas points and rewards on top of my savings (Fred Meyer offers a rebate on quarterly earnings with their rewards card, so I get that back as well). Remember to stick to quality items, and examine the items (seams, hemlines and buttons) before buying, so that you can stretch every single dollar! Want more ways to save at Forever 21? Go read our article for more frugal Forever 21 shopping tips.

This is a guest post by Grace from Medford, Oregon

The Do's and Don'ts of Shopping at Forever 21