I’m almost 22 years old, work two jobs, and still don’t make enough to live on my own. Most of my money goes to either school bills (college!) or insulin (the alternative is death - no really). I thought it’d be a good idea to be a writer, known for being a horrendously bad job choice if you want a steady paycheck. Different parts of me rot on a daily basis.
What keeps other parts of me from rotting is shopping. I like to shop. Clothes are pretty and I like buying tops and pants and flowy dresses for dates I’m never gonna go on. Shopping + no money = window shopping normally for me, and I still do a good amount of that considering the way I grew up. I work in the wonderful world of the the food/service industry off Michigan Ave. (the Mag Mile to you tourists out there), so every day on my way to work I get off the train and pass by the storefronts of Armani and Marlowe and Ralph Lauren pretending to not care while a part of me gnashes its teeth at the frustration of not being able to just walk in and buy whatever I want. It’s not necessarily that I want to buy the clothes in there, but that the ability to do so without a thought would mean I had a solid amount of financial security.
Then I remember that even if I had the money, I wouldn’t walk into those places anyway because why spend $1500 on a dress when I can snatch cuter shit for cheap I can wear multiple times for different occasions at Topshop?
Topshop is wonderful. On their website, they talk about a “cool-girl aesthetic” and “mixing up styles.” I like to keep things simple and chic when it comes to clothes, but I’m also open-minded enough to try new things as long as they don’t give me glaucoma by just glancing at them. The key is knowing how to find clothes that are good quality, but still cheap as hell to buy. I’ve shopped enough to notice that the $1 shirt at the hip and trendy cool clothing boutique is held together by glue and human will power as opposed to the $20 shirt on the adjacent rack held together by stitches, loops, love, and unicorn spittle.
Unfortunately, lots of things here are stupidly expensive. Luckily, a lot of their clearance stuff is great. My favorite times to shop clearance are at the end of a season. Right now they’re getting rid of all their summer shit, and come April they’ll be getting rid of their winter junk, so those are the best times to buy. Add that to the 10% STUDENT DISCOUNT (sometimes 20% if they want to be generous) and I get some damn good deals.
Clothes overall: A lot of their other stuff is always good for wearing to multiple functions and generally makes me feel good despite having just gotten a recent rejection from [insert - guy, magazine, anthology, website, etc]. They run small, which is great for a person like me who has a smaller-than-normal waist, but incites feelings of rigor mortis when a dress that fits your waist is two sizes too small for your chest.
Dresses - I’ve actually never bought a dress here because they’re always expensive and I’m always broke (earlier today I realized I had no dollar bills on me and had to pay Doug Sohn in quarters for a hot dog), but from what I’ve seen they’re a mix between art deco, mod, and prints, if you’re into that type of thing.
They have their share of party dresses with frills and frizzes, and any embroidered or beaded dresses they have are guaranteed beautiful, but unless you’re willing to hand the cashier a full paycheck, that dress is staying in the store.
Coats: Expensive. They have faux leather jackets that run for $60-$80, but besides that, people like you and me are shit out of luck. I resort to feeling the jackets between my thumb and forefinger, then backing away slowly, leaving, and taking my place with the other plebeians of society behind a cash register asking frazzled parents if they want anything to drink with their blueberry muffin while three toddling children screech into their parents’ knees.
Tops: They can be really expensive, but that’s why you hover creep silently around the store until they have a massive clearance sale like the one they’re having right now in my city. $30 shorts? Fuck that. They have $6 camis and $8 tanks tops. Most of the super cheap stuff runs for $6 to $15, while other more expensive shit on clearance runs for $20 to $40, but the $25+ stuff is basically embroidered stuff with beads and fringes and shit I can do without. I mix fashion with function, and while beads and fringes look nice, they don’t keep me warmer in the winter. They have a good assortment of colors and their crop tops (if you wear crop tops) are also cheap. Again, all this stuff is on clearance. I’ve seen crop tops here cost $16 and think to myself “no,” but now that they’re all about the same price as a Subway meal, I’m thinking, “Maaaaybe.” Most of the time when I’m at Topshop, I leave with a shirt. My last three tops from here combined add up to about $25. Considering how their stuff is regularly priced, I see that as a good deal. They were your basic tank tops/muscle shirt types, but they’re made well and make me look good.
Jeans: $70? How about no.
Every thing else that counts as clothes: shorts, accessories, whatever, I don’t pay much attention to those. For the two people who are frustrated at my lack of talking about this shit, there’s a website. Look for yourself.
Shoes: Holy shit. So shoes here and usually expensive, but - again - it’s all about the sales. So boots usually run a lot anywhere at places that aren’t thrift shops (I’d go to thrift shops, but there are none by where I live, and even tall boots at H&M are about $50 at the cheapest) but then there was earlier this summer where I walk into Topshop, find a sale, and see that tall boots are going for $30, which I never see in places like Topshop. Even the people who work there were drooling over the deals. It’s not like they were ugly either. I’ve seen sales where I look at the clothes and think, “Wow, these clothes are so ugly, the Powers That Be deemed them so to the point of pricing them at one cup of coffee, resorting to the barter system, to sell them.” These were some nice boots, and you bet your ass I bought them. I’ve bought other shoes from here, like a pair of platform pumps for $37 (they were originally going for something like $80, but then there was a sale, then there was 30% off sale items, then there was a 20% student discount or some shit) and a pair of Chelsea boots (those were $70, but I was treating myself for getting a new and better job [the one I’m working right now actually]).
I can’t speak for Topman because I’m not a dude, so I don’t shop there, but every guy I see coming out of Topshop looks fabulous and they all make me want to hand out my phone number like business cards.
So there it goes. A guide to shopping at Topshop for cheap. Because I’m bored, it’s a Friday night, I’m alone, and I’m contemplating how the last couple of guys who’ve shown any kind of romantic or erotic interest in me have had wives and girlfriends who look like me - hair, eyes, chin, or in some cases, face and body. And yes, I mean that they had significant others at the time and were hitting on me. Because people are awful.