Forever 21, and Other Nightmares


Is there a notion more pernicious than the idea that it would be glorious to be 21 forever? Sure, your bosom may be saucy, your rear at its perky best, but the rest of your life—and ask anyone who’s around that age if you doubt us—is invariably a huge mess.

At 21, you’re inordinately worried about how you look, a concern that you think will never go away but that oddly manages to dissipate almost completely over the next decade or so. Even if you can forget about your appearance for just a minute (yes, those pants do make you look fat! You weigh 100 pounds but, oh, you look so fat!), then you begin to fret about your professional prospects, since you’re probably just getting out of college and facing a mountain of debt and a daunting job market. Lucky enough to have found a job? In most cases, you’re at the lowest rung of a seemingly endless climb to a semi-decent salary. In short—this time of life, despite a few obvious compensations, is no picnic basket.

The above thoughts have apparently never occurred to the folks who just opened a huge emporium called Forever 21 in the building facing Union Square that also houses Filene’s Basement. Despite our horror at the store’s name, we peeked inside and were so taken with the merch—amazingly stylish and hovering happily, price-wise, in H&M territory—that we could almost forgive the name. We immediately fell in love with two delightful items: a gunmetal-silver, sequined tank top, whose spangles rest cleverly on a cotton-knit base, for a mere $17.80, and a silky pleated skirt in a jolie-laide brown and green print that owes a debt to Prada, for $22.80.

Speaking of being 21 forever—though in this case we mean 1921, or even 1821—the semi-annual Triple Pier Antiques and Collectibles Show ( is in town this weekend and next. This has long been our favorite antique show, though it is not at all cheap (you won’t find much beyond a hanky in the Forever 21 price range). Still, it features 600 immensely interesting dealers spread over three beautiful Hudson river piers, and there’s everything from poodle skirts and bakelite bracelets (pier 88) to tramp art picture frames and time-worn Raggedy Anns (pier 90) to Handel lamps and Cartier lavalieres (pier 88). For total freaks who just can’t wait, what is known in the trade as “early buying” is available on Friday afternoon (for a $35 admission fee), but we’re not planning to going until Saturday ($15 admission), since we prefer strolling the aisles at a leisurely pace to being run over by hysterical dealers.

If you don’t want to get out of bed at all this weekend, you can order an item that bills itself as a “great gift for the fashionista.” (Now, there is word we would love to never, ever hear again.) According to the press release, from a company called Vidcat ( “The one-hour program is a compilation of original vintage fashion newsreels from the 1950s-60s and documents fashion history as it happened. The DVD is specially formatted for easy navigation from a specific year to a favorite decade and back again to a vintage accessory.”

If it comes right away, you can spend next weekend seeing if any of those newsreel-featured fashions turn up on pier 88.