How To Shop Strategically At Teenage Stores

Whether you’re in college or are well into your adult career, you probably feel drawn to the cute displays, trendy pieces, and affordable prices of stores with a teenage base. Teenage stores have great sales and quality pieces, but if you don’t shop strategically, you can end up looking significantly younger than you are – and not in a good way!

By Alyssa Vandermeulen3 min read
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Teenage stores, such as American Eagle or Hollister, are typically filled with affordable, trendy pieces that are marketed toward a younger demographic. If the term affordable strikes your interest as an adult, it's understandable that you might want to browse and purchase pieces from these types of fashion stores. However, the quality of most of the clothing, as well as the fast lifespan of many trends, will often leave these items untouched at the back of your closet. 

Here’s how to shop strategically at teenage stores to save you money without dressing like your high school self again!

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Choose Lined Pieces 

Teenage stores offer a surplus of dresses and skirts, especially during the spring and summer seasons. To shop strategically and get a great deal on a variety of cute dresses, always choose the lined options. The extra layer of fabric creates a more flattering look on your non-teenage self and generally looks more sophisticated than their unlined counterparts. 

Choose Your Patterns Wisely 

To avoid trendy and short-lived styles, stick with solid colors and classic patterns when shopping for tops and dresses. Elegant florals, gingham, houndstooth, and stripes are always good options for patterns! 

Avoid Logos, Loud Prints, and Ribbed Cut-Outs

One of the easiest ways to instantly cheapen your look is with a large store logo, particularly from a teenage store. Especially with tees, you’ll want to avoid any brand names or brand-specific fonts, words, or images. Even small pieces of hardware attached to the hem of a shirt can affect the consistency of your outfit. 

Loud patterns and prints are also something to avoid when shopping at a teenage store. If you love color and fun patterns, focus on purchasing pieces from age-appropriate stores such as Free People or Anthropologie, where the patterns and silhouettes will be designed with you in mind. 

Ribbed cut-outs are another style to avoid when browsing in a teenage store. Trendy and unnecessary, shirts or dresses with ribbed cut-outs on the sides or on the chest should not be found in your closet. It will become apparent where you purchased that top, which is not an element of classy and feminine style. 

If you need more help choosing mature pieces, here are the six items you should get rid of if you’re over 25!

Choose Thicker Fabrics and Classic Silhouettes

Another way to instantly elevate your teenage shopping purchases is to choose pieces with thicker fabrics and classic silhouettes. Fabrics such as flannel, tweed, or linen will maintain their shape, even with the low price tag. 

Another rule of thumb is to choose classic, wearable silhouettes, rather than overly cropped shirts or tube tops. You should be able to wear the top or dress without your bra straps showing as well. If you can’t build an outfit with the item, then you should take it out of your cart! 

Build Outfits Around Age-Appropriate Pieces

Rather than buying an entire outfit from one store, try to limit yourself to a few key pieces that you can build outfits around. A cute summer blouse from a teenage store paired with a nice pair of jeans and sandals will balance out your look with age-appropriate pieces, rather than buying a matching set made for high school girls. 

Shop the Basics

One of the perks of shopping at a teenage store is the relatively low prices. Rather than spend hundreds of dollars on your basic tees and tanks at another store, buy your solid color basic pieces here! You can find a wide range of basic tops and even loungewear essentials for a low cost – just remember to avoid any pieces with brand logos. 

Don’t Buy Denim

A general rule of thumb when it comes to shopping at younger stores – never buy the denim (even if it's on sale!). You would be far better off buying a few pairs of quality jeans and shorts from Abercrombie or Everlane than buying thin, low quality denim that is made for rapidly growing bodies. Especially if you struggle with gaping with your jeans, teenage stores are not the place to spend your money. 

Always Shop with a Coupon

One of the best things about teenage stores is the consistent sale prices and coupons. That being said, so many women forget to wait for an ever-present sale before making a purchase! Check for coupon codes (college students typically get 20% off every purchase, depending on the store) and wait for a good sale before buying your items. 

Pieces To Buy

Now that we’ve established a guide to shopping strategically at teenage stores, here are 15 pieces that exemplify the proper shopping habits of a fashionable yet mature woman.