1. Banana Republic
You are finally getting your shit together. This is it. It starts today. No more crop tops made out of underwear material, or maxi dresses that get stuck between your butt cheeks every time you move more than 10 feet. Banana Republic You has a good job interview with a company you respect, and a five-year plan that includes saving more than 20 dollars out of every paycheck. You go in there with firm objectives, try on Michelle Obama-esque shift dresses and blazers that say “Give me a promotion. Trust me with your finances. I eat greek yogurt on a regular basis.” But in the privacy of the dressing room, you recoil over the fact that for one of these dresses, you could literally purchase an entirely new summer wardrobe at Forever21.
2. Forever 21
You are just tryna get drunk. You’re not here to make friends, you’re not here to improve your life station, you’re not here to find something to wear to work (well, sometimes you are, but #maytheoddsbeeverinyourfavor when it comes to purchasing work apparel from Forever21 that doesn’t explode into a pile of threads on the first day). The version of yourself in Forever21 is not concerned with quality or propriety or “age appropriate” (mouth fart noise). You are interested in purchasing the kind of outfit that allows you to experiment with different looks and consider it a wash if you end up throwing it out after one use, because it cost the same as a venti frappucino. You are planning on going out to a bar with a name like “The Twisted Turtle” and spilling approximately seven drinks on your new dress before telling every girl in the bathroom that it has pockets. You may also pick up some 2 dollar bracelets on your way to the register, because you’re a free-spirited kinda gal who doesn’t mind a little green wrist skin.
You’re still a floor-touching Hot Mess™, but now you’re dating a moderately wealthy
drug dealer gentleman, and some fluorescent yellow mini dress made out of burnt plastic and a wish — the official fabric of Forever21 — is just not going to cut it. You’re the kind of gal who wears dresses entirely made of spray painted ACE bandages, because it provides all of the fupa control of Spanx, but it counts as a full-on dress because it has a racerback top and goes to mid-thigh. Look out, clubs where ladies get in free before 12 and everyone orders Cîroq table service, because you’re about to tear that shit UP.
4. JC Penney
Your life careened severely off the rails at some unspecified point, and you are not quite sure how you ended up here. Everything is a blur of Keebler cookie crumbs, plus-sized wrap sweaters in aggressive shades of purple, and regret. You have to pick up the least offensive button-down shirt possible for your first day on a soul-crushing desk job and/or get new black plants that make your ass look like pancakes for your 10-hour shift at the California Pizza Kitchen. Everything has gone wrong, and you don’t even know who you are anymore. Also, the only thing getting you through this shopping trip is the prospect of an Auntie Anne’s pretzel at the end of the day.
Madewell You is Regular You, but superior in every measurable way. You’re just there to buy some casually-distressed jeans to wear with a loose-yet-still-somehow-sexy cable-knit sweater as you pensively sip your tea and look out on some grey Northeastern beach, mentally preparing for the clam bake you have to attend that night. Madewell You always makes time for a healthy breakfast, only dates emotionally available guys with excellent hair, and has mastered the art of a nude heel with a skinny jean. You don’t get drunk, only prosecco tipsy, and you look at the Forever21 girls in the bar as though they were carriers of some horrific, airborne disease.
You are essentially your Forever21 self, but the extra 30 dollars on every price point has gone straight to your brazilian keratin treatment-ed head. You’re still going to the same clubs, drinking the same rail vodka sodas (unless a dude gets you a call liquor, #AMIRITE), but now you’ve got a job as an executive assistant in an upscale dental office and the hell if anyone is taking that away from you (Webbie’s “Independent” plays softly in the background). You’re all about incredibly impractical heels with gold tips, mini dresses worn under white blazers (???), and being several shades too tan for your natural skin tone. Let’s be honest, your Zara self is kind of a bitch, but at least her liquid eyeliner is always on point.
7. Urban Outfitters
This might be the last summer you can realistically go to a music festival, so fuck it, you’re doing it. And you’re here to buy all of the necessary supplies, from the flower crown to the high-waisted cutoff jorts, to the tank top with the vaguely tribal print. And then, across the ridiculously sparse dressing room, you see a 17-year-old who is actually in the flower crown “I WANT TO HAVE YOUR BABY, AVICII” phase of her life, and you immediately reconsider every choice you’ve ever made. Because although Urban Outfitters girl exists within us all, at a certain point, we must force her to retire, if only because she pays Madewell prices for what are clearly Forever21 clothes, and that shit is simply for the weak.