Now, more than ever, it can seem that young people rule the world. Young Adult novels are topping the book charts, while their movie counterparts are raking it in at the box office. Young stars like Kendall and Kylie Jenner have wildly successful careers in fashion and entertainment and once teen-focused fashion brands like Abercrombie & Fitch, Brandy Melville, and PacSun are becoming increasingly popular.
For a woman of a more, shall we say, “established” age—whether she’s a stylish gal who’s climbing the corporate ladder in her late 20s or a power broker in her mid-30s—these brands may seem like the last place to turn for great-looking wardrobe finds. (Sure, Forever 21, Zara, and H&M may offer some chic options, but Brandy Melville?) Well, that’s where she’d be wrong.
As it happens, stores like Hollister, Wet Seal, and yes, even Hot Topic can prove brilliant sources for stylish basics and on-trend pieces. Abercrombie & Fitch, for example, has even made a concerted decision to ditch its logo and focus its efforts more squarely on truly fashionable pieces—and from the looks of what’s currently on its racks, that decision is working.
Don’t believe us? Here are 28 pieces that prove truly great style means finding chic pieces where you might least expect it.
Hell Bunny Marilyn dress, $67.60, hottopic.com
At first glance, Hot Topic is all aggressive logo tees and ripped denim, but take a closer look at the brand’s Retro section online. It’s packed with really flattering, vintage-inspired finds—mostly under $50! This flirty, feminine dress would be perfect for a weekend date or evening cocktails with friends. Ditto this gingham print number that would fly for any summer wedding.
Strapless rayon jumpsuit, $50, hollisterco.com; Woodson mountain off-the-shoulder shirt, $15, hollisterco.com
If you thought Hollister was all sporty, collegiate-looking finds, think again. This fitted gingham jumpsuit, featuring a just-sexy-enough cutout, looks like something you’d find in a designer store—and it’s less than $50! Off-the-shoulder tops and dresses are this season’s must-have, and this crisp white option offers an easy way to try the trend for just $15.
18K gold plated arrow stud earrings, $12.50 claires.com; Crystal flower linear stud earrings, $7.50, claires.com; Turquoise enamel triangle stud earrings, $6.50, claires.com
You might immediately associate Claire’s with feathered accessories and emoji jewelry, but as it happens, the accessories chain is a fantastic resource for understated studs and delicate earrings. Mix and match on ears with multiple piercings, or wear alone for an understated look. Bonus: Many of the pairs are under $10!
Plunging pinstripe jumpsuit, $40, wetseal.com; Metal trim cateye sunglasses, $8, wetseal.com; Round faux tortoise sunglasses, $8, wetseal.com
Wet Seal became a serious mall fixture in the ‘90s and has established itself as a popular young women’s brand ever since. While your average working gal might write it off, it’s actually a pretty solid resource for weekend wear and California-inspired separates (read: items that telegraph summer). Case in point: this flattering pinstripe jumpsuit. The brand also has a solid section of stylish sunglasses that are as cute as many of our favorite designer pairs.
LA Hearts V front lace up back one piece swimsuit, $35, pacsun.com
Known originally as Pacific Sunwear, this California-based brand has become incredibly popular as PacSun, thanks to some smart collaborations (ahem, Kendall and Kylie). Our pick for what to shop? Their enormous selection of well-priced swimwear—from simple-yet-chic one-pieces to flattering bikini separates. They also stock a lot of great Billabong suits exclusively online.
Toe ring flip-flop, $18, aeropostale.com; Fury ballet flat, $20, aeropostale.com; Southwest T-strap sandal, $14, aeropostale.com
Everyone knows about Steve Madden, Aldo, and Bakers, but add Aeropostale to the list of stores to visit for affordable summer shoes. Boho-inspired sandals read more grown-up than Coachella Princess, while the pointy-toe flats are spot on trend.
Button-up dark denim wash skirt, $27, charlotterusse.com; Cold shoulder bodycon dress, $29, charlotterusse.com; Geo-quilted full midi skirt, $27, charlotterusse.com
Once heavy on the single-wear going-out looks, Charlotte Russe seems to have changed its ways, offering up sophisticated summer trend options—take this dress with shoulder cutouts and ’70s-inspired denim skirts.
Openwork Ottoman crop top, $79, bebe.com; Openwork Ottoman skirt, $79, bebe.com
After undergoing a rebrand in 2014, Bebe has focused less on the sparkly baby Ts and flares it was one known for in the ’90s and Aughts in favor of feminine tops, flirty silhouettes, and ladylike pieces. We’re loving items like this adorable crop top and pencil skirt set and these eyelet tie-waist shorts.
Ollie sweater, $39, brandymelvilleusa.com; Amara boyfriend fit denim jacket, $40, brandymelvilleusa.com; Ingle dress, $29, brandymelvilleusa.com
Brandy Melville has made serious waves in the teen fashion scene (in both good and bad ways) due to its controversial sizing policy, but admittedly, it is a valuable resource for petite girls everywhere. We suggest shopping solid basics such as summer sweaters, denim jackets, and Peter Pan-collar dresses.
Cargo jumpsuit, $78, abercrombie.com, Pleated cutout midi dress, $65, abercrombie.com, Cropped wide leg jumpsuit, $68, abercrombie.com
Anyone who knows anything about Abercrombie & Fitch, remembers the brand’s affinity for logo-splashed, well, everything, overtly sexual catalogs, and cargo shorts galore. To say things have changed would be a serious understatement. Along with the introduction of new colors, the brand has also launched Trend Edit section of the website, featuring surprisingly covered-up cuts and silhouettes any woman over 30 would be willing to wear.