Shopping Tips From a Teenager
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Our British teen correspondent Manvir Dobb is back for round two of Ask a Teen. This week’s annoying questions are all about shopping! And Manvir, being beyond the good sport that she is, put up all of my “what are the kids up to these days” prodding. Nod if you’re a teen and agree, tell us in the comments if you’re a teen and it’s different in your neck of the woods and if you’re out of teen-hood/just here to have your mind blown, well by all means, join in.

Where do you shop more, online or in stores?

I think that in general, teens shop more online because:
a) There are shops like ASOS which cater to a ton of different personal styles.
b) It’s always fun to open up the packaging.
c) The clothes won’t have makeup marks on them.
d) It’s easier to shop online if you need something specific because nothing is more painful than going to a shop and not finding what you want.

I keep online shopping to a minimum, but when it does happen, in those beautiful moments of joy, my parents will enter their credit card details themselves. They don’t trust me yet which I think is outrageous, yet understandable.

My mom has been against online shopping ever since I was 11 and bought a dress from eBay which looked fine in the picture, but was just so wrong in real life. She’s warming up to it a bit [to online shopping] now; she just bought me a Gandalf costume online for World Book Day, which she really couldn’t get from the high street.

What’s the coolest store? The place where everyone seems to shop?

It would have to be between Zara and Topshop. No one wants to be part of the mainstream and have the same top as another person, but there is a reason why everyone shops at those places.

What used to be cool but feels too young for you now?

Definitely Hollister. Whenever I hear its name, I have horrific memories of being twelve and everyone wearing tiny flowery Hollister skirts to the disco. Yes, a disco, with flickering lights and about 80 girls on sugar highs dancing to “Apple Bottom Jeans.”

What’s really trendy right for you and your friends now?

Since we’re in the midst of winter, big furry coats are a staple item in our wardrobes right now. And to show our hopes and dreams for warmer days, we can’t get enough of leather A-line skirts, which seem to come in a rainbow of colors. Bright red for me.

What about for guys? What does it seem like “every guy” wears?

Bomber jackets are everywhere. I don’t mind the bomber jacket — it just hurts me when they all wear it the same way. It’s like a uniform outside of school.

What do you think teens spend the most money on when shopping?

At the moment, my bet is on shoes. It can vary from boots (ankle, knee, thigh — take your pick) to trainers with a logo (e.g. Stan Smiths). I’m guilty of buying a pair of ankle boots that came at a hefty price, but I NEEDED them, even though I didn’t. It’s like dessert: sweet but detrimental to your health/purse.

What trends do parents/teachers seem to hate or dislike or discourage the most?

With my parents, it’s wearing short trousers that reveal my hairy legs (the debates about this can get heated). With teachers, it’s ripped jeans and strappy tops that reveal too much skin, because heaven forbid we get a sufficient amount of vitamin D (although I am grateful that we can wear our own clothes instead of school uniform).

Who are the main teen style icons?

Teens will always look up to models like Alexa Chung and Kate Moss for inspiration because it’s a given that whatever they wear, they’ll look good in. I also admire people like Susie Lao, the Man Repeller ladies (of course) and Pandora Sykes because they’re not afraid to break the rules and add fun twists that show personality in their style. More personally, my friends and I inspire one another with what we wear because we each have our individual style.

If you had all the money in the world what would you buy?

Since this article is about fashion and trends: a coat from Shrimps would be nice, a Gucci jumper too, and I’m still waiting on that ballgown from Zac Posen I mentioned in the last article.

What do you see adults buy that you can’t ever imagine yourself caring about?

Anti-aging cream. I think wrinkles and gray hair will be fun but my mom told me that when she was younger she thought the same, and now she’s converted.

Since every one of our Teens tells me to ask other teens this: What do you care about most right now?

Well, this week I had to go to a wedding which, being Indian, spanned the course of many days. So my main concerns have been: Can I do my homework in time? It’s been good knowing you, sleep. Can I walk in a straight line wearing both heels and a sari? How does makeup work? And finally, Emma Watson can be a feminist and show off her boobs.

Follow Manvir on Instagram @ManvirDobb. Illustration by Meghann Stephenson, follow her on Instagram @meghannfinley.

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  • wyd

    Thanks for linking every single item of clothing mentioned to a $1000+ option… from a teenager who loves the MR spirit but is gradually realising this is a hella out of touch and overpriced website

    • Don’t get disheartened! I’m a poor twentysomething who’s been a Man Repeller regular for years, and I just use them for inspiration. Then I go out and find a less expensive alternative.

      • Hannah Cole

        I’m with you sister!

      • BarbieBush

        This is nice to see other people in the same vein as me. I understand that fashion is akin to art in that it is insanely priced for what it actually is but I comment on here all the time likeee do real people buy these things???? At the same time did you see the line of shoes? They are not affordable for me at allll but they get sold out. So that makes me feel like maybe the “community” that is involved in commenting etc is not a total representation of everyone.

        It just feels insane sometimes to try to relate to the people on this when you see the shopping emails back and forth of being like, “I can justify this $1000 shirt!” It is a hard paradigm to accept feeling akin to peeps in the 1%.

    • Vida Rose

      I’m in my thirties and not in a place to drop a cool grand. But I find so much inspiration here and honestly, without manrepeller I wouldn’t know what to do in a thrift store. I get compliments all the time since I started coming here and learning how to have fun with clothes. However- I would like to see more income diversity in the featured closets etc.

      • Lola

        Yes please!!!!! Maybe a teen closet? So that we can see cute stuff but on a budget. Or really just anyone with mostly well priced clothes, instead of ALL costing $$$$

    • Manvir Dobb

      Don’t worry, I don’t own any designer clothing and am as broke as any other teenager. What I think is great about MR is that their style is free for interpretation no matter what the price. Personally, I live for charity shops!

  • Abby

    I’m 28 and just falling for the siren song of anti-aging. When you see the first hint of crows feet, it just kinda hits you and suddenly you own the entire L’oreal “Age Perfect” line from CVS.

    • _lauristia

      I’m laughing myself to pee point so hard, I’m 26 and had my first crisis a year ago, now I’m the proud owner of one of those “age treatment” lines.

  • If I knew who Pandora Sykes was as a teenager my life (closet/style) would’ve been one million times more fun and experimental. Alas, all I cared about was running 👟

  • Jill Freedman

    I agree about minimal online shopping, but Topshop is the exception since there are none near me and my current obsession.

  • Mika Deshmukh

    I’m three months away from not being a teenager anymore, so i’m clinging onto the last threads of teenage-dom. Namely, sneakers, band shirts, and my denim jacket.

    • Adrianna

      I’ve reverted back to my teenage wardrobe as I’ve gotten older. I felt more of a desire to look “professional” and “adult” in my early 20s.

    • honestly, I’m 26 and I’m wearing a band shirt and sneakers right now. and my spring/summer jacket is a jean jacket with patches on it. just wear whatever you want, it’s fine!

  • Ryan

    I love the “if you had all the money in the world” question

    • Manvir Dobb

      It was a lot of fun to answer!

  • A Local Honey

    This is refreshing – it seems like the teens in my community roll out of bed and throw on any old sweats/athletic gear they can find. I suppose that’s a generational awareness (I’m know our parents’ generation was appalled by our ripped jeans and baby tee’s), but teens today look sloppy! Manvir gives me hope for humanity.

    • Shevaun

      Teens i see are like INTIMIDATINGLY stylish. But I live in a major city (in Canada lol) so it’s probably to be expected.

    • Manvir Dobb

      Haha thank you! And the same can be said for the majority of teens here; but every man to himself/herself I guess.

  • Yasemin

    Haha the Hollister thing is probably the most true thing I’ve every read… Good one!

    • Dymond Moore

      OMG Hollister and Aeropostale was ridiculous and you were like a leper if you didn’t have it.

    • Manvir Dobb

      Haha I’m glad I’m not the only one who experienced this!

  • Adrianna

    I’m 28 as of today, and I still do not feel any more anxiety about aging or desire to purchase anti-aging creams than when I turned 18.

    • Grace B

      happy birthday!

    • Manvir Dobb

      That gives me hope for the future, and happy birthday!

  • Dymond Moore

    Teen here! I think the trendiest thing around here now are off the shoulder tops, those denim A-line skirts with buttons down the front, and choker combo. And the kids around here don’t care enough about fashion to shop Zara and Topshop.They’re mostly wearing Forever 21 and American Eagle because they have the trends without much thought or a big price tag. I personally HATE ripped jeans (does that mean I’m getting closer to being an adult?), but I’m just now being converted to bodysuits although it’s ridiculously hard to find one that just looks like a normal tee shirt without all of the extra corseting or a neckline down to my belly button.

    No one around here subscribes to one style icon, rather they all look to each other for inspiration which lends itself to a lot of identical dressing among the girls and the guys. You can always tell which ones are the fashionistas though because they’re always wearing something vastly different but completely put together (I would say I’m one of those people- hope that’s not cringey).

    I spend most of my money on makeup and graphic tees as opposed to shoes. I wear them until they die lol. And if I had all the money in the world, I’d buy an Everlane weekender bag, pack it with plain white tees and Levi 721s, and buy a plane ticket to LA. It’s been too long since I’ve been. <3

    • Manvir Dobb

      Thanks for sharing, it’s nice to get the perspective of another teen. And the struggles of finding a bodysuit that’s right for me are too real in this day and age!

  • Caroline Homan

    My high school is soooo preppy (everyone wears Lilly Pulitzer dresses paired with Jack Roger sandals), but I like to shop online at Zara or Asos to buy edgier clothes. I also love to thrift to get some unique pieces.

  • I’m not totally comfortable about the way we consumers heavy rely on fast fashion companies like Zara, ASOS and Topshop, regardless of age group. I know those corporations play to the trends but their practices cause way more harm to other people and the environment than being (easily) trendy is worth. More discussion of thrift-store buying, sharing with friends and even minimalism would be interesting. Watch The True Cost and you’ll see what I mean!

    • Amy Brumbpo Tungus

      I’m with you on this one 100%! I’d rather have nothing new than buy from fast fashion outlets.

    • Ariel

      I’m 18 and I used to buy all my clothes from urban outfitters, old navy (seriously! They have some good stuff), Zara, etc. I never really thought about the impact of the fast fashion industry until this year. But even knowing the environmental and social costs, it can be difficult to find alternatives as an economically limited, fashion-conscious teen. Secondhand clothes/ thrifting are probably the best. So my New Years resolution was to buy only secondhand clothes (excluding prom jumpsuit and shoes and environmentally conscious brands if I find any I can afford) and so far I’m essentially just not buying anything.. it feels nice as I’m no longer wasting tons of time/ procrastinating by online shopping. its been pretty liberating and I highly recommend

      • CS

        I like the way you’re thinking! I too am finding that I save time and money by focusing in mindfully made items. It’s still fun to look at fashion websites but I feel less tempted to buy things knowing that I “can’t” buy them due to moral reasons.

    • CS

      Agreed! Watching The True Cost and T-Shirt Travels were pivotal for me in choosing to buy clothing (and food, housewares, etc) that are as ethically made as possible. I’d love to see some ideas on MR about ethically made clothing at different price points.

    • Manvir Dobb

      That’s sounds really interesting, I’ll look into it

    • Alice

      It’s hard to buy second hand in some countries though! When I go on holiday I usually get some pieces from second hand stores and more middle of the road places but those just do not exist where I live.

  • Ana Patricia

    Teen here! I have become a skincare fanatic and do an eight product process to hopefully keep my skin glowy and young for all of eternity (I blame Caroline Hirons). I love in person shopping since it gives you a better sense of the texture and quality of what you’re buying, although I’ve not done much shopping lately. The textile industry’s​ environmental impact is enormous and I feel personally responsible for the Earth’s destruction when I buy something, which leads to compulsive browsing of clothes I feel guilty about wanting to buy! I digress. Hollister was definitely the brand that defined my early adolescence, and while I resented it at the time I’m so glad my mom didn’t let me buy my entire wardrobe there! I think the most “in” things with teens right now are off the shoulder tops and chokers, both of which I love but hate when everyone wears them in the exact. same. way. Stan Smiths are also solo trendy, but hopefully they bridge the gap between “teen fashion” and professional clothes and give people a chance to be creative within the confines of a dress code.

  • CS

    I love seeing so many people here in the comments who are also concerned about the environmental impact of the fashion industry. MR, could you do some pieces on this and ideas for finding ethically made clothes/shoes?

  • Pandora Sykes

    Awwww thanks, Manvir! Do you mean Susie Lau, rather not Lao? She’s also ace.

    • Manvir Dobb

      Oh god, yes, ooops… thanks for correcting and generally being amazing

  • Delphine Gintz

    I’m a teen!!! And I have the same Zac Posen fashion fantasy!!! That’s crazy, I can relate to almost everything except…shopping online. Nope. Not for me. I can’t even remember the last piece of clothing I bought online without returning it, because the pictures are never true to the actual clothes. But then I also don’t like shopping, and since I can’t go places naked I steal from my mom who has killer style. I’ve found my perfect personal thrift shop.

  • Lauren

    16 yo me rn totally agrees with everything you’ve said! as an Australian teen though – i speak for most girls around my age when I say we LOVE a second-hand market. especially in the 1hr period in the afternoons where everything (including vintage hilfiger, and levis) is going for under $15 – just today i snagged a silk jacket for $2! bargains is our generational trigger-word for sure