How a Cheap Thrill Becomes a Wardrobe All-Star

The next time you're feeling overwhelmed in a fast-fashion store, don't panic! Instead, refer to this list of the H&M/Zara/Forever 21 buys Sweet's editors have kept for years. You'll never end up with a shopping bag full of polyester flares and a heart full of regret again.

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The Outfit-Making Floral Blazer

From the Closet of: Chanel Parks, assistant editor, @chanelinezp

Where I Bought It: Forever 21

When I Bought It: Probably 2012, when I last shopped at Forever 21.

What I Paid: Good question! I rarely buy anything more than $20 on impulse, and this, my friends, was an impulse buy, so probably around that amount.

Why It's a Fast Fashion All-Star: It's held up relatively well for a fast-fashion item. The buttons fell off, but so what? Whenever I pair this loudly-printed blazer with my typical all-black or black and white outfits, I always get compliments. Maybe it's because I literally bring the tropics to the office, bar, or wherever I wear it; plus, it looks a lot more expensive than it actually is. So if people think I'm wearing a Gucci floral print, then cool, because the joke's on them and the flattery is all on me. 

The Seasonless Denim Dress

From the Closet of: Caitlin Petreycik, senior fashion editor, @c_petreycik

Where I Bought It: ASOS

When I Bought It: Summer 2014, I think?

What I Paid: Around $40

Why It's a Fast Fashion All-Star: At one point, I wore this thing once a week. I've since cut back to a couple times a month, but it's still in regular rotation. Can you blame me, though? The shift cut and back vent make it a no-brainer in 90-degree weather, but it also works with a striped turtleneck, black tights, and platform oxfords in the fall. When I shop in fast-fashion stores, I try to make a point to stick to things that are cotton or linen—those materials hold up much better than synthetics, usually look more expensive, and are much easier to clean. 

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The Everlasting Shoulder Bag

From the Closet of: Stefan Marolachakis, senior editor, @stefanmymind

Where I Bought It: H&M in The Hague, The Netherlands

When I Bought It: November 2013

What I Paid: $35

Why It's a Fast Fashion All-Star: I've brought it all around the world, crammed it into overhead bins, shoved it under benches in 15-passenger vans, and dragged it around the New York City subway system, and it somehow still keeps on going. It's simple, effective, and surprisingly durable. I've gotten more compliments on this bag than I have for most of the things I own combined.

The Accent Sweater That Never Goes Out of Style

From the Closet of: Rebecca Deczynski, editorial assistant, @rebeccadecz

Where I Bought It: Forever 21

When I Bought It: 2011

What I Paid: Definitely under $30.

Why It's a Fast Fashion All-Star: A black sweater is always a good idea, but a black sweater with embellished shoulders takes your look up a notch. The faux pearls on this playful Forever 21 pullover make it look a lot fancier than it actually is. It's a revved-up take on a classic style, which is why I've held onto it, despite getting rid of virtually every other piece of clothing from my high-school wardrobe.

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The Looks-Way-More-Expensive-Than-It-Is Crop Top

From the Closet of: Chantal Strasburger, assistant editor, @chantagold

Where I Bought It: H&M

When I Bought It: 2014

What I Paid: $30

Why It's a Fast Fashion All-Star: I'd been wanting a neoprene addition to my closet ever since I found out what the word neoprene meant. The dark floral pattern could've been lifted from a 17th century Dutch painting, which, in combination with the structured silhouette, makes for a piece that looks like it came straight from the runway. 

The Wide-Leg Pants That Aren't Black

From the Closet of: Natalia Tyndall, office assistant, @tallylabella  

Where I Bought It: ASOS

When I Bought It: Probably in 2014.

What I Paid: $30

Why It's a Fast Fashion All-Star: My long legs are my best feature, and I own quite a few pairs of wide-leg pants to accentuate them. These are just so dramatic, and I always feel a bit more confident when I'm wearing them. Plus, the color is everything. Who doesn't love this shade of purple?


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The Chameleon-Like Acid-Wash Shirt

From the Closet of: Rebecca Bates, senior editor, @re.beccabates

Where I Bought It: H&M

When I Bought It: 2012

What I Paid: Probably $12.

Why It's a Fast Fashion All-Star: I bought this because I was going to a party where I thought I needed to wear something "weird." The bleach spots are almost like a print, and when I first bought the shirt I wore it with a pair of Black Watch plaid pants. To me, in 2012, this was wild clashing. Now I turn to this shirt whenever I find myself falling into an endless cycle of chambray after chambray after chambray. It's super-soft, and the acid wash makes even the laziest outfit look like it has some kind of point of view.

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