Frenchified and Forever 21 (if Only on the Inside)

comments: 54

Forever216 I took the whole day off. My friend got back from France less than a week ago and I was lucky enough to have her all to myself for a few hours yesterday, for shopping and lunch. (We said to our waiter, simultaneously and inappropriately, "Hi handsome!" and "Hey, good looking!" followed by "Wow." I'll say she said the "wow." He looked like he just stepped off the runway, or the pro-football field (as in quarterback, not defensive end). We were flirting in the French way (actually I would assume the French are far more subtle and sophisticated, but I'll tell you, even our dork-attempts worked, because we got excellent service), just for the Frenchified fun of it.

Forever217 She was wearing a little black top with tiny polka-dots on it and a cute neck-bow thing and it was totally clear that it was from France. It was adorable. Unfortunately, my behavior was not, and it was a typical American Alicia Paulson–ish conversation, resulting in the following appalling content-analysis: 50% Alicia talking about her five-minute trip to France fifteen years ago; 10% Shelly talking about her two-week trip to France FROM WHICH SHE RETURNED FIVE DAYS AGO; 40% Alicia falling off her chair and into her lunch trying to apologize for monopolizing the conversation with talk about herself, totally missing the irony that she is actually taking up even more time talking about herself. It wasn't that bad, but close.

Forever212Presents, as always, assuaged my blues. She brought me French buttons, postcards, a fleur-de-lis patch, and a little antique wire cage — a child's "cricket keeper." We went to Powell's and got my drawing books, then hit Anthropologie and coveted many, many, many, many, many, many, many, many things there. I'm sorry, but we did. Late last night while lying in bed in the dark I couldn't stop thinking about how much I love clothes. I stared up towards the ceiling and said to Andy, "Do you ever, like, just sit and think about clothes, about maybe what you'll wear or what you want to wear?"

He: "Um, no."
Me: "Never?" (Mind you, we have had this conversation about four hundred times so this is really just some kind of exercise in I don't know what — me maneuvering an opportunity to talk about myself again, I think.)
He: "No. I mean, I do think about them when I'm dressed inappropriately."
Me: "Oh, I love clothes so much!!! I love them! Sometimes I just think about them all the time!!!"
He: "Man, we learned so much about geology at school! The entire fossil record . . . paleozoic . . . [etc., I actually have no idea what he was saying.]
Me: "I mean, how do they make all these clothes? Where are they coming from? Who's designing this stuff? It's so cute! It's so cute. Ohmigosh, there was this jacket, with an empire waist, and these big buttons and little pleats, and, seriously, it was adorable hun, and . . . "
He: "ZZZZzzzzzzzz."
Me: "Darn."

Forever214After Shelly dropped me off at home, I couldn't sit still. I went back out to the regular mall to see what was happening there. Not much. Except for at Forever 21. I don't know where I've been, but HAVE YOU BEEN HERE? Good grief. Can I just say that all of these pictures are from Forever 21, and everything is between $18 and $34? That dress, above, is less than $23. This store had more clothes than any store I've ever been in in my life. There were clothes stuffed onto racks, falling off shelves, so many clothes you just wouldn't believe it. (At least at Clackamas Town Center.)

Forever213I don't know a thing about this place, and I am clearly nowhere near 21, I can't stand it when clothes are on the floor, I try not to shop at these big chains, but I couldn't get out. I could not get out. I was sucked into the vortex. The music was great. It was like a museum of cuteness. Everywhere I turned I was assaulted with something cute. Look at this little jacket. Please. Hello Mia Farrow. How cute would you be sipping cafe au lait in that!

The stuff is small, and they have an insane return policy — can't return, only exchange or get store credit, and you have a small window of opportunity to do so. But I got two shirts and let's just say I am feeling much, much better about fall.

Forgot to say: If you want to pee in your pants laughing listen to David Sedaris talk about Paris on This American Life from July 28, 2000 (episode 165). I listen to this every couple of years when I remember to and it is one of my favorite ones, especially the part where he sees Judge Judy. . . .


I love Forever 21, even though I'm 38.

Gorgeous pics--thanks!

That's my girl!
Nice one Alicia.

My daughter's favorite store! So easy to get a ton of stuff, of course it's really not that quality clothing but fun and inexpensive for that I NEED A NEW OUTFIT TODAY kind of day. Lots of darling skirts etc. Another one of those same kinds of stores is Styles for Less. Trendy throw away clothing. Today she's visiting friends and going to the new H&M in SF. LIke they need more H&M's! Love you, love your blog.

Chris Howard says: September 29, 2006 at 10:40 AM

Ah Alicia, you are so cute and funny, do you know that? I am SO not a clothes person, but hearing you talk about them almost makes me want to go and shop for some...almost.

I'm glad you are feeling better about the Fall and you will most definitely have to go and buy some cute clothes and take pictures for us. That's an order!

I stare at the ceiling and think about cross stitch while hubby is blabbing away about programing and calculus.

stumbled upon,love, love the blog, and yes forever 21 is so great! love it! and i'm not 21 either..but like to think i can always be 21! have a superb weekend!

ok alicia, you DERSERVE a book contract, your writing is so happy, so funny, so lush! if julie powell (julie and Julia fame) can do are a shoe in!

speaking of shoes, that is is about the only thing I could squeeze into at F 21 and still look good. Sigh. to be 21 again. And seriously coveting things at Anthropologie helps build stronger bones I hear on good authority.

thanks for the smile.

Actually, the conversation hinged to geology (for me) right about here...
she: ...I mean next year the clothes will be as mind-blowing as this year, but they'll be like from a totaly different schpeseez.
me: did you just say schpeseez?
she: I don't know why I said it like that. Species.
me: Sometimes when I think about college I can't believe how much we learned in such a short amount of time. I mean we learned the entire fossil record from micro-fossils in limestone through the post dinosaur mammals in one trimester!
she: zzz
me: zzz
she: ...(I didn't catch this part)

The part about you talking to much. For a second I thought it was me. There was a crazy British band in the 1990's called Sultans of Ping, their hit single went something like: "You talk too much, you talk too much, you never shut up, you talk too much." I will never forget that band, that song pops up in my mind always when I... Nice clothes btw!

amy and i had this conversation recently-- the words "golden age of fashion" were used. as were "i'm going crazy at forever 21" and "I haven't seen anything like this since '96".

i guess i should get my behind in there and stop trying to sew all this madness.

Forever21 is my secret weapon. I find it surprising that most of their clothing is made in the U.S.A., yet the prices remain so low. If you ever need to go on an accessories binge, the F21 at Lloyd center has a separate (massive) accessories wing.

Oh wow.. I am going to have to look for this store, as I am in love with the yellow and black shirt and the black tie jacket/top thing. I am far from 21, but in my opinion, you do not have to be 21 to look cute, you just have to be 21 to have a really cute arse... anyhooo

I love France, I love Paris. That is why I took 6 years of French in high school/college. Weird thing is, I am adopted. I had my records opened, and low and behold, my mother's whole family are French. Like she is 2nd generation. When HSBC bought my company I was in heaven. I spoke with our director and asked what the chances of getting deported to France would be. He said, work for us for 2-3 years and we will discuss on how we can accomodate you. Hmmm, let me see, it has only been 10 months.. Darn!

Glad you got to see your friend, and I doubt you were that bad...

Oh on the man/clothes thing.. the guys in our MIS group laugh at me because I will have items to "hand baste" or embroider with me at lunch when I do not run errands. Danny does like to go to the mall, but he doesn't get it. We went on a business trip to Scottsdale and he had never been to Neimen Marcus, so I made him go. He about fell on the floor when I suggested he go try on a $4K Armani suit (well, shoot, what would trying one on hurt?). So, I totally get the man/clothes thing. BUT, scary enough, I would have understood the whole fossil discussion... crynoid stems, dad was a geologist at one point, so he rock geekified me at a young age : ) Once it is in your blood it never truly goes away. And I find it quite charming we he and Emma go hunt for rocks together at the lake: )

you are so good! my nieces all swear by f21. must get in there myself...

Ahh haaha! Your post this morning makes me smile and *clap* my hands!! For years I've been going to F21 and my friends would always say, "omg, that is so cute! Where did you get that??" And I would laugh and say, "Forever 21!!! $15!! Hahaha!!"

I consider Forever 21 my secret drug: it's a high. I find myself driving out of the way to just "look around" and almost always come home with some ultra cute vintagey looking girlie thing. Yay!!! I'm so happy you've found it!

P.S. I think about clothes all the time too. ;)

You are too funny, especially the conversation with Andy about clothes. My day is brightened from your post and I haven't had to go shopping, yet. Cheers!

Alicia do you know what size they go up to? I have finally lost enough weight that I can shop in most of the normal stores, but I'm still a 14/16 in tops, 16/18 in pants. Anyone know if I can shop there yet?

did you know that forever 21 was lisa's and my favorite secret? WAS. we had sworn each other to secrecy about it, but i'm letting the cat out of the bag now.

Oh my Gosh!! Of Course!!! Why did I not think of this sooner ... SHOPPING! It is the ultimate way to deal with the seasonal changes!!!

Phew ... you are one smart cookie! By the way you are also so very cute and I love all of the pictures! You would look fabulous in every single one! Lucky You! Hugs!

Love the photos you posted. I love clothes too, but I wish I was thinner so I could shop in more places, oh and younger, to wear all the cute punky, sweet styles that at 32, I feel I am too old to wear.

Went shopping on my lunch break and it made me so happy, even though I did not buy a thing. Sometimes the only thing I feel that makes me happy or makes me want to come to work is a new outfit or accessroy. Not sure what that means.

Forever 21 is one of my favorite stores. Last year they were a little to skimpy for my likings but this year they have been great. And the prices are easy to handle too!
I died *laughing at your need to talk about yourself. The other day I dropped my daughter off at a friends house, when I got in the car, and I thought about how I just keep talking about me to the other mom, and how the mom will probably roll her eyes at the sight me again and tell her daughter to stay away from the crazy ladies kid. Thanks for a so honest and funny post.

i just got into the forever 21 thing myself. the cool thing about this chain (and yeah, i hate chains too) is that it's dirt cheap, has a bazillion different styles and something is always on sale. but i thing the real grandure of it, is that it gives you the option to fool around. i just graduated college, i don't have a penny to spare and my wardrobe is 4 years old and falling apart. but if i go there, i feel like i can take risks and try new things and new looks and combnations because it won't kill me at the end of the month. and nothing is haute couture, so if i try to modify or fix something i don't feel too bad if i screw up. and if i look weird in it? who cares! it's kind of like e.l.f. for clothes, i think. and honestly, i've never actually seen anyone who's 21 or under in our Culver City store. enjoy your shopping!

"most of the clothes are made in the usa..."

really? you mean i have been purposely not going there beacuse i thought it was a huge china import chain and didn't want to support slave sweat-shop labor for no reason? ugh!

we're heading to sf tomorrow to see the gee's bend exhibit at the de young and i'm gonna have to get into their store now. i need me some cute, inexpensive antique inspired clothes. now!

Ok, you just perfectly described my life! Yesterday, I had a conversation with my friend in Memphis and hung up thinking (like often), "I talk way too much." And then I wonder why she sounded annoyed.

I feel so guilty when I have these thoughts like, "I just want to think, talk, read about, and make clothes! Where do all these cute ideas come from? Why don't we have a million dollars?" My hubby sort of understands but not really. Sigh! As for Forever 21, I would NOT want to be 21 again. Bad year. But I do like those clothes! :)

Forever 21 = evangelists

Anthropologie (owned by urban outfitters) = evil in general

I love forever 21 as much as the next girl but be fore warn or post warned, as it were. if you see and you like it buy it. Their turn around is unbelieveable. Also the clothes are cheap and most wear that way. Not in the drape but i have a few things that after i have worn them 3-4 times, holes will appear or they just fall apart. Just a warning, but i understand you must feed the addiction. go forth and shop!

Ha! The hubby + I have parallel conversations all the time. And he has been known to fall asleep while I'm talking. Forever 21, gotta love that place, so cheap + cute! Of course I hate when the girls there ask me if I'm a nanny. =)

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at