All Outfits / Fashion

Where to Shop When You’re Too Old for Forever 21

If your last visit to Forever 21 left you feeling like an old lady, you’re not alone!

Before we jump in, it’s important for me to say that everyone is entitled to their own style and opinion and this post is not to discourage from being who you are.

This post is for 30-something women, like me, who are trying to figure out where they fit in now that they’ve outgrown stores like Forever 21! Getting dressed in your thirties is a whole different ballgame.

As an almost 31-year-old with a little extra weight on her bones, not only do I not fit in most of the clothing, I also find that the overly trendy styles and cuts just don’t resonate with me anymore.

I don’t want to wear a graphic t-shirt that says, “Baby“ or to dress like a bag of Hot Cheetos! Have you seen their latest chip inspired collection?! I can’t even pretend to understand it.

I’m all for quirky, fun, and nostalgic graphic tees but like all good things, moderation is key!

In this post we’ll chat about:

  • Fashion Challenges in Your Thirties + How to Overcome Them
  • Where to Shop in Your Thirties
  • The 5 Wardrobe Staples You Need When You Re-Vamp Your Wardrobe


Challenge #1: Looking Like a Grandma

Once you accept that Forever 21 is not your go-to place anymore, you’re left with very few fun and stylish options. Sure, you can find basics and business clothes pretty easily but what about stylish everyday outfits that don’t make you feel like a grandma?!

Solution #1: Find Your Stores + Spend More Time Shopping

Unfortunately, no one has opened a Forever 31 store filled with affordable and fun clothing geared at 30-somethings. So you’re going to have to spend more time shopping and figure out which stores best match your new personal style. (I’ll share some of my new favorite places to shop below.)

In general, prepare to spend more because as a 30-something, retailers expect us to have our sh*t together and be able to spend more than $10 on, well, anything.

Challenge #2: Body Shape

Even with a great workout routine and diet, there’s a good chance your body is a lot different than it was in your twenties. Maybe you pushed out a few babies, or your metabolism slowed down and you got a desk job, whatever the reason, it’s time to accept, love, and re-learn your body shape.

Solution # 2: Mirror Time

Whether it’s at home or in a dressing room, it helps to spend time in front of a mirror trying on different styles to understand how they look on your new shape.

I made the mistake of not doing this for a long time and ended up buying a lot of clothing I regretted. There was a period of time where I just despised getting dressed because I never felt like I looked good in anything. This was mostly because it was time to size up and try new cuts and styles but honestly, I had a major dip in self-esteem and it sucked.

I don’t want you to feel that way. You’re beautiful and a whole decade wiser!

Challenge #3: Your New Life

Your life is probably a lot different than it was in your twenties. You likely have new responsibilities and different professional goals. Maybe your new full-time job is being a mom or working from home to launch your jewelry business. Both of these are great but why is your closet filled with sparkly dresses and heels?!

Solution #3: Acceptance

Pretty Instagram photos and Pinterest boards make us feel like we need rhinestone encrusted stilettos and sparkly gowns but what we really need is clothing that fits the life we are ACTUALLY living. Whatever you’re doing this decade, dress for it!

I’m so guilty of doing this. I’ll be down to one pair of pants that fit and worn out underwear but I’ll still try to buy a cocktail dress when I go shopping!

This problem isn’t specific to our thirties but since so many of us have a big shift in priorities around this time, I thought it’d be important to call it out.


Now for the million dollar question, where can we shop and find clothing that’s affordable, cute, and age-appropriate (I hate that phrase but you know what I mean)

Below is the short list of where I’ve been shopping to find clothes that fit my lifestyle, my budget, and my new style.

Target – Check out their Universal Thread line for some seriously amazing finds! The whole line is like a budget-friendly version of Madewell. The clothing is classic yet youthful, with a lot of casual California vibes.

New York & Company – I use to think of this store as a place for business clothes for older (40+) women but lately, they’ve stepped up their game and have a lot of fun and stylish pieces for date night, birthday parties, and other dressy occasions. (I didn’t find any casual clothing gems here)

Express – My go-to place for jeans! Their denim has a lot of stretch  (thank God, these hips need all the stretch they can get) and is often on sale for about $50! You can also find a lot of other chic pieces here + work clothes.

Madewell – I can’t afford to shop here often but I love their clothing. They are the perfect store for casual weekend outfits and everyday looks. They always use soft breathable fabrics and flirty grown-up cuts.

Macy’s – Does anyone still shop at department stores? Well, you’re about to! Some of the styles here are dated but if you have time to browse, you’ll find some stylish treasures and sales. I bought the leather Guess jacket below for 50% off! (Also the jumpsuit is from the Universal Thread line that I mentioned above)

Zara – I’m just not fashion forward enough for Zara but they have a lot of sophisticated pieces and their sales make things a lot more affordable.

Old Navy – They have so many cute styles that feel age appropriate and comfy. Plus, they’re super affordable! The last thing I purchased from Old Navy was a Denim Jacket for about $20 on sale. It was soft, stretchy, and a wardrobe must-have (Jacket Featured Below)!

skirt and denim jacket outfit graphic t-shirt

Nordstrom Rack – Be ready hunt to a deal! If you have the time to dig through the racks and try on what you find, this is a great option for you. You can score some brand name pieces at an affordable price.

*Exception: Forever 21 – I have one small exception to not shopping at Forever 21. I do buy cheap workout clothes there because, well, it’s cheap and I’m going to sweat in it but the large barely fits me. I’ve actually found better quality pieces at similar prices at Ross, so I’ll likely be shopping there instead! (I also believe in full disclosure so I wanted to keep it real!)


Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

Now that you’re done with $10 bodycon dresses (I didn’t even look good in these when I was in my twenties!) and you want to rebuild your wardrobe, here are the 5 basics I recommend buying first:

Black Booties – They add instant sophistication to any look! You don’t have to invest in them right away either, I’ve been wearing this $30 dollar pair from Amazon for almost a year. And this pair is currently in my shopping cart! (*Affiliate link for the second boot, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.)

High Waist (non-distressed) Jeans with Stretch – These will match all your blouses and t-shirts and make getting dressed in the morning super easy. My current favorite pair is from Express.

Denim Jacket – This is a classic piece that can turn summer/spring dresses into work appropriate outfits or extend wear into the fall months. This means you’ll get more wear out of your dresses!

Blazer – You always need a blazer! You never know when you’ll have a job interview, work presentations, and the classic jeans + blazer combo is honestly one of the greatest outfit combinations of all time.

T-Shirts – Classic, clean and easy to style. Stock up on basic high quality tees because they’re a lifesaver when you can’t decide what to wear! Plus they’ll match most of your bottoms which helps you utilize more of your wardrobe.


I hope this post was helpful!

Navigating your thirties is just as complicated and confusing as navigating your twenties but for entirely different reasons.

I’ve spent most of my 30th year learning how to let go of who I used to be so I could grow into a new stage of life. It was bad enough when my metabolism slowed down once I realized I couldn’t shop at my go-to places and nothing fit my body like it used to, I was sad. But growth is not meant to be easy and I believe we’re designed this way to ensure we keep growing and developing as people.

I’m looking forward to sharing more posts geared toward my 30+ readers out there because the internet has forgotten about us for far too long!

How has your style changed over the years? And what is the most confusing thing to figure out as you get older?

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