Forever 21: home to hot dresses for the cluuub, knock-off American Apparel velour bodysuits for $15.80, and tank tops that cost less than your round-trip MetroCard to get to the store itself. Out of all the cheap clothing chains, it is the most cutting edge in terms of fashion, featuring original, yet wearable designs. However, it’s also haphazardly stocked, fraught with long lines, and justifiably clogged with dazed tourists and natives.
Oddly enough for this native New Yorker, the solution lies in Times Square. The four-level, 90,000 square foot flagship Forever 21 located at 1540 Broadway in the heart of capitalism’s jizz is as neat, sparsely populated, and well-stocked as if you broke in to go shopping in the middle of the night. That’s because this mega-Forever 21 is indeed open to the public until 2am nightly. You can thank my penchant for the Q train (Times Square to Brooklyn in three stops? Yes, always!) and bout of unemployment (shopping at midnight on a Wednesday…) for this wonderful discovery.
Despite the curse or privilege of these circumstances, there is nothing shame-worthy about breezing through elbow-free aisles, not waiting in line for a dressing room, taking in as many items as you want, and then not waiting in line to pay. I imagined that these conditions were a fluke: shouldn’t there be a rowdy drunk contingent or some homeless individuals trying to sleep amongst the leggy mannequins? On a recent excursion, I asked my surprisingly chipper cashier whether I had missed out on the crazies that night, and was informed that the craziest people come during the daytime hours.
Out of the eighteen items I hauled to the fitting room, I settled on a 1970s-style printed maxi-skirt for $17.90. It sits high on my waist, and would go well with a crop-top or chunky sweater. As long as you don’t mind a potentially sketchy subway ride home and a weekday morning shopping hangover, you can satisfy your broke-ass budget without the hassle.