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how to get your money’s worth with fast fashion

Although there is no denying I like the finer things in life, some of the staple pieces in my closet are surprisingly not ones I had to save for. There are expensive things (like this vintage Chanel) which I bought planning to keep forever, but the longevity and quality of a few pieces I have found for much less may come as a shock.

I find that less expensive stores can easily be disregarded as cheap and downright wasteful. Though approach with caution,  since you might be missing out by avoiding them completely. While I agree that investing in high quality pieces is great if you can afford to do so, sometimes the retail price really is just a reflection of the brand name so you can get a totally comparable product for a bargain without it.

As both a shopper and past employee at big box retailers, I can tell you first hand that it’s not all crap – the product quality is just all over the place. Some fast fashion purchases I’ve been wearing consistently for years, while others fall apart after a single wash. That makes sense, if you consider that huge fashion companies will normally buy from many different factories to provide you such a massive selection of products.

How can you tell if something will last? Next time you’re hitting the high street, pay attention to these 5 things:


There are some fabrics that can look much pretty much the same at any price point, and some where low quality is quite noticeable. Stay far away from anything that is already pulling or snagged in-store, chiffon and poorly made knits. Cotton is a safe bet at any price point!

Fast fashion does everything these days (including blends with some higher quality fabrics like the linen/rayon shorts above) so look for fabrics that feel soft and durable. H&M, Forever 21 and Zara have also been using real leather, but since most people don’t go into those stores to spend these often end up marked down come sale season. You can find suede shorts, and (1, 2, 3) suede jackets for under $40 at Forever 21 right now.


Something less expensive may be unintentionally flimsy or see-through. The Aritizia “Reposa” stretch knit is one of my faves, but because it has been so popular I’ve seen a lot of other brands do their own version for much less. Unfortunately, they tend to be quite thin or not as soft- shop around though because I have found literally the exact same feel at Forever 21 for a fraction of the price.

Try it on (or check the return policy) 

One of the biggest indicators of quality is the fit, which when done well instantly looks more expensive. Sizing and shape can be off at any retailer, but I find fast fashion to be the most inconsistent of all. Stop by those fitting rooms or make sure you can get a hassle free full refund if you order online!

Know when to go for the real thing 

If it’s something branded you’re after, or a designer piece and nothing else comes close, don’t waste your time with lesser than. If it’s just a stepping stone to the big purchase, wait until you can budget for the real thing rather than waste money for the instant gratification.

Stick to the basics

A white tee is a white tee is a white tee. Don’t spend more than necessary for something so basic. In general, the simple the item the harder it is to tell what you paid.

Top: Forever 21, Shorts: Forever 21, Denim Shirt: Aritzia, Shoes: Adidas, Sunnies: Ray Ban, Bag: Vintage from Once Again Resale



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