Southern Belle in Training

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle Blog || Est. 2012 || Virginia Beach, VA

January 15, 2018

Guide To My Favorite Fashion Brands: What I Buy From Different Stores.

     One of the best parts about blogging is that it's pushed me as a consumer to be aware of so many more fashion retailers and brands. In middle and high school, I was definitely guilty for a few years of shopping exclusively at the "cool" mall stores like American Eagle Outfitters, Hollister, and Victoria's Secret PINK. Heaven forbid I even consider shopping somewhere else during that time in my life - ha! Nowadays, I can say that it's actually really hard for me to pick a favorite store or brand! Keeping up with fashion trends so often now, I've quite honestly discovered things that I like and dislike about almost every retailer. Of course, there are a few that I do generally prefer over others (which you'll read more about in this post), but overall I think we're living in an era when fast fashion is easy to come by from many different places, which makes blogging really fun and creative!

      I thought today's post would be fun to write though to share which retailers I turn to when shopping for certain things specifically. Such as- what's my favorite store for tights? My go-to place for sports bras? What store comes to mind when I think work appropriate blouses? You'll learn all of these things today! It doesn't mean that I won't buy my tights, sports bras, or business casual tops at multiple places of course, but there are some brands that are "tried and true" for me for some winning items, so that's what I'll be focusing on today! 

What to buy from the best stores

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     *Ann Taylor - To me, the essence of the Ann Taylor brand is fashion that is feminine, classic, understated and timeless. It's a more expensive brand/store, but everything Ann Taylor that I own I keep in my closet for years, so I see purchases there as investments instead of fast fashion. I would probably shop at Ann Taylor at lot more if there was a store in Vermont (it's one store I prefer to shop at in person), and also if I worked in a business casual work environment, but either way, it still remains a favorite of mine!
     *Ann Taylor favorites - Business casual blouses and tops

     *Anthropologie - Many of my girlfriends claim Anthropologie as their favorite store. While it isn't my top retail destination, my heart does have a soft spot for Anthro! I actually don't own any clothing items from here (surprisingly?), but I adore the home items and other accessories. Remember that gold initial mug that when viral on Instagram and Pinterest circa 2014? I still have mine and proudly use it as decoration on my blogging desk/office area! Like Ann Taylor, this is another store that I prefer to shop at in-store versus online.
      *Anthropologie favorites - Mugs

     *Belk - My favorite Southern department store!! Ah- how I miss Belk! Yet another store where I'm not a big fan of the website, so I haven't shopped there since I moved to Vermont. The SouthPark Mall location in Charlotte is one of their flagship stores, and it carried lots of high-end and premiere brands, so Belk SouthPark was always one of my favorite places to go in SouthPark. Belk's annual Belk Days sale is an amazing time to get great deals on so many items in store. There are few departments stores where I can truly say I like every department, but Belk is one of those, at least for the Charlotte locations! My favorite thing to purchase at Belk though is shoes. So many of my favorite shoe purchases are from there, and they often have great sales in the shoe department.
      *Belk favorites - Shoes at all locations, and for the SouthPark location, their Lilly Pulitzer department!

     *Banana Republic - I view Banana Republic as a three-way fusion of Gap, J. Crew, and Ann Taylor. I like Banana and have some pieces from there that I love, but it's not a store that I specifically go to when shopping for something, if that makes sense. Most of their items are pretty high quality and investment pieces, also kind of like Ann Taylor. I will say that Banana will always have a special spot in my heart as it's one of the first major fashion brands that I partnered with on my blog for a few campaigns!
      *Banana Republic favorites - Sweaters and shoes

     *Charming Charlie - During my first two years of college, Charming Charlie was 100% my favorite store in the world. It's still a retailer that I love, but my obsession might have calmed a little bit now, haha! Anyways, before my junior year of college, there actually weren't any CC locations in Charlotte! They did have some in a two-hour radius in other parts of the Carolinas, like Winston-Salem and Greenville, SC. You bet that I made trips to shop there at least once or twice a semester! I'm telling you- my devotion was strong! I've tried just about everything that Charming Charlie sells, and in the last year I've also gotten some fun PR mailers from them with blogging. There are a few stand-out products that I love though, and it's also a great store to find gifts at for girlfriends!
     *Charming Charlie favorites - Statement earrings and these hair elastics (The only ones I buy now)

     *Chicwish - This is an online retailer that was new-to-me in 2017, and I was lucky enough to start partnering with them on my blog! Sometimes as a consumer it's easy to be wary of online-only retailers, especially since I really do love the in-person shopping experience so much! I can say now that I'm definitely a fan of Chicwish though! Most of their items fit very TTS, and I've really liked just about everything I've received from them! I like Chicwish because while they sell trendy items, their clothing usually has a unique look about it that's a little different than what you see in mall stores.
     *Chicwish favorites - Skirts and sweaters (I wrote a separate blog post here about how much I love their sweaters!)

     *Dillard's - Ah - another department store that I miss dearly! Nordstrom is really the only department store that I make regular orders from online, the rest I prefer to shop at in-store. I will say, I used to be more into Dillard's a few years ago for two reasons. Their SouthPark Mall locations in Charlotte had an excellent Juniors section, and also a decently sized Vera Bradley selection in the Handbags department - which are two departments I used to shop in a lot more a few years ago! But with that said, I still really like Dillard's for other things too!
      *Dillard's favorites - Shoes and formalwear

     *DSW - Obviously this is a shoe store, so *shocker* when I say that I come here for.... shoes! What sets DSW apart from other places that I buy shoes at is that if I have a certain specific shoe style in mind that I'm looking for, whether it's a type of black heel, a certain workout sneaker, or a type of fall boot.... there's a 99% chance DSW has it, or has something very similar to what I want. They just have such an extensive selection of shoes since it's what they specialize in! Sometimes when I'm shoe shopping I check other stores first, but if I'm coming up blank, DSW usually comes to my rescue.
     *DSW favorites - Specific shoes I'm shopping for

     *Express - Express isn't one of my favorites of the mall brands, however it's one of the few stores we have here at the mall in Vermont that I actually shop at (lol but true!). I think they tend to be pretty overpriced for the quality of their clothing. With that said, during their large sale days (like Black Friday or other holidays) you can sometimes get great deals on already reduced clearance. I have some things from Express I've found on sale that I really do like. Their ExpressNEXT rewards program also isn't bad- you don't need to store credit card to sign up for it, and it's easy to get rewards.
     *Express favorites - various clothing finds on-sale

     *Forever 21 - Weird fun fact: one of my favorite Forever 21 locations EVER is in Maine!! Isn't that random? But seriously, there's a great location in the mall where I'm from. Anyways, I've been a loyal F21 shopper since high school. Since I've gotten more into online shopping with blogging, I now prefer retailers like Chicwish and Shein to Forever 21's clothing. However, I still love F21 for accessories, pajamas, and workout apparel! Their sports bra are so cheap and are my favorite!
     *Forever 21 favorites - "Going out clothes," fall hats, pajamas, and sports bras

     *Francesca's - I love the vibe and design of Francesca's stores. It really is like stepping into a cute girly boutique inside of the mall! This is yet another retailer that I really don't like shopping at online, I prefer the in-store experience. Similarly to Express, I think a lot of Francesca's clothing is very overpriced for what it is. However, this is a great store for accessories and little home trinkets. It's one of my favorite places to shop at for gifting for my girlfriends! Most years for Christmas I've bought at least a few friends presents and stocking stuffers from here!
     *Francesca's favorites - Home trinkets and accessories

     *H&M - This is a very hit or miss store with me! Another one that I prefer to shop at in-store, but my affection for H&M totally depends on the location. There were some in the Charlotte area that carried much better merchandise than others for example. I think some of their clothing is extremely cheaply made (and looks it), but other things are a great bargain for the price, and hold up very well! For example- one of my favorite coats is four years old and from H&M and I still love it, but sometimes I see other coats there that I wouldn't be caught dead in, as they look so cheaply made. I have the same views on their accessories.
      *H&M favorites - "Going out clothes" and accessories

     *J. Crew - A rare brand where I prefer its outlet version to the real thing! With that said, nothing compares to J. Crew's gorgeous line-up of winter coats. I received one for Christmas a few years ago, and it's one of my most prized possessions. Their line of statement jewelry is also gorgeous!
     *J. Crew favorites - The Lady Day coat

     *J. Crew Factory - So I totally prefer Factory to regular J. Crew! Anyone else? I've shopped there for long enough and have enough of a grasp on their sizing and styles that I shop there equally online and in-store. They're my go-to destination for preppy basics! Everything from solid colored shorts to cardigans to jewelry staples... and sometimes fun things too like cute dresses and tops!
      *J. Crew Factory favorites - Shorts and cardigans

    *Kendra Scott - Definitely one of the main brands that I fell in love with during my years in the South! Kendra Scott's jewelry is so bold and colorful, and I think it wears well with many of my wardrobe favorites. I will say that I think some of their pieces are a bit overpriced for what they are, but on the other hand some of their other jewelry I think is very fairly priced and remains some of my favorite jewelry to wear! It just depends on the pieces. When I buy Kendra online, I usually do so through Nordstrom so that I can use my Nordstrom card. Otherwise I love having the in-store experience!
     *Kendra Scott favorites - Stud earrings and cuff bracelets

     *Lauren James - Probably the preppiest place I shop at! Predominantly an online retailer, although boutiques across the country do carry Lauren James (none near Vermont though). I am obsessed with their Sweet Tee t-shirts (I just featured them in my Best Purchases of 2017 post), but I also love Lauren James's vests, shorts, and other clothing items! And they have the cutest preppy stickers.
      *Lauren James favorites - Sweet Tees

     *Lilly Pulitzer - Out of every store/brand on this list... this is the one where if asked, I'd say, "Yep, I'd like everything please!" I am 110% a Lilly girl, and so proud of it. 😊 I have a plethora Lilly accessories, had a Lilly agenda every year of college, have a rapidly growing collection of Lilly dresses, and own many other Lilly clothing items as well. And you know what? I LOVE IT ALL!!! (I'm sure that's not a shock to you if you read my After Party Sale posts!)
     *Lilly Pulitzer favorites - Dresses and Lilly drinkware (mugs especially)

     *LOFT - Probably an odd favorite thing to have about such a popular store... but I love LOFT's tights! Especially their sweater tights, they've made it possible for me to keep wearing dresses and skirts during the awful New England winter! I asked for some more for Christmas and was thrilled when my mom bought me several more pairs! This is another store, like J. Crew, where I really like their outlet! Sometimes I like the stuff LOFT outlet gets better than regular LOFT. I also like LOFT for other things, like blouses and sweaters, but I will say that I don't shop there anymore as much as I did a couple years ago, as I feel like right now with blogging LOFT is almost a little *too* popular and it seems like on Instagram every night there's at least 25 bloggers in the same LOFT outfit. No thanks!!
     *LOFT favorites - Tights

     *Nordstrom - The mother of all department stores, at least in the blogging world! Being a blogger and reaping the benefits of NSale commissions each summer (#transparency) has definitely made me start shopping more at Nordstrom, but I will say I appreciate the fact how they carry a range of high and low end brands. And I love the free shipping! Even when I lived in Charlotte where there was a large store, this is a rare store that I prefer online shopping at to the in-store experience. And now in Vermont I don't have a choice, so online it is!
     *Nordstrom favorites - Large Tory Burch selection (I purchase most of my Tory stuff here so I can get card points), the BP exclusive line

     *Nordstrom Rack - I'm also a big fan of Nordstrom's budget friendly sister store! While Rack is a much better shopping experience in-store, I'm very spoiled as there's an awesome Rack in Maine, and my broadcasting school wasn't far from the Charlotte one. Nordstrom Rack visits are always surprising- you could do amazingly and end up with a penny deal, you might not find anything, or you could find lots of things!
      *Nordstrom Rack favorites - Shoes and jewelry

     *Ross - I don't actually know too many bloggers who admit to liking shop at Ross. There aren't any Ross stores in New England, so I was unfamiliar with it until I moved to NC for college. It didn't take me long to fall in love though! You can't get lower deals on clothing than Ross. Except maybe Walmart.... but let's avoid that. 😉 Ross is an extremely no-frills shopping experience, and selection varies of course from store to store, but I've had many Ross trips where I have STRUCK GOLD, and found things like the cutest sweaters, skirts, and tops! Seriously- one basic striped top that I wear almost weekly to work was a Ross find last year for under $10. Also- they have a huge two-story store on the Las Vegas strip that I've visited on both of my Vegas trips and will probably visit on future trips too! Can you tell I'm a Ross enthusiast? #noshame
     *Ross favorites - Dresses

    *Shein - This is an online exclusive retailer that I was very wary of before I first ordered from there. All of their prices are insanely cheap (think $15 and under for most things), and they're China based, so I didn't know if it was legit. I'm here to report that Shein is one of those rare things in life that is too good to be true! I've now placed tons of orders through them over the last couple years and also worked with them on my blog. There's been some items that were of low quality or didn't fit well, but for the most part, I love everything! If it's taken care of well, it holds up pretty well. You can also read the customer reviews before purchasing! The items that have the most reviews are usually the best bets.
     *Shein favorites - Workout leggings and swimwear

     *Talbots - This is actually my mom's favorite store! She started shopping there more often when I was in high school, and buying me things from there. Then I started shopping there too! While some things from Talbots have a bit of a mature look to them (more suited for women my mom's age), there are lots of things in the store that look great on 20 somethings as well. The word that comes to mind when I think of Talbots is "classic." If you bought something from Talbots five years ago, you can still wear it now without question! While I have lots of clothing from there, the items that I actually own the most of are their accessories. If Charming Charlie is my favorite place for statement jewelry, it would be Talbots for  simple and understated costume jewelry.
     *Talbots favorites - Jewelry and Scarves

     *Target - I go through weird phases with Target's clothing. Some seasons I love everything and I buy tons of it, and other times I go months without buying a thing. I loved their Lilly for Target collection in 2015, and I've also liked some of the other limited edition lines. Two things that I've always bought at Target and will probably continue to buy there though are swimwear and basic t-shirts.
      *Target favorites - Swimwear, t-shirts, and the Sugarfix by Baublebar exclusive jewelry line

     *TJ Maxx / Marshall's - Alright y'all don't hate me for saying this.... I'm actually not too big of a Maxxinista! (Or whatever the equivalent is for Marshall's.) I think despite the fact their prices are lower than department stores, they're often still too high for the quality of what they're selling. That's why I prefer Ross- pretty much everything is $20 and under there! I rarely buy clothing now at TJ Maxx or Marshall's. I do like both stores though for home items, gifting supplies (like gift bags), and shoes. TJ Maxx does have some good shoe finds, but it's hit or miss depending on location and the season.
     *TJ Maxx / Marshall's favorites - Home accessories and shoes

     *Zara - One of my newer favorite stores, but I'm oh so in love with it! I especially love shopping there when I travel. Montreal, just over the border from Burlington, has tons of great Zara locations which is been fun to discover! Zara carries such modern and different twists on basic items. Everything they sell has a city-chic feel to it. I recently discovered their denim and I LOVE it, but besides for that I don't really have a favorite thing here! I honestly like everything.
     *Zara favorites - Jeans and blanket scarves

     I hope that you enjoyed today's blog post!! Do we share any favorite stores?

     Have a wonderful start to your week!

      God Bless,

       xoxo Annaliese   




  1. Annaliese I LOVE this post! I'm book marking it, because I'm always curious as to where people get their favorite pieces. Such a creative post, and I love so much of your style that I'm excited to shop some of your favorites!

  2. I love going to the Jcrew Factory store in Kittery! I always find the best skirts and jewelry there!

  3. J.Crew in regards to their coats is spot on! I just purchased, The City, coat from them on cyber Monday and it has since become my favorite.

  4. What a lovely idea! So creative - I have never seen anything like that before! So sad we don't have any of those stores here in Austria :( I have to plan a trip to the US again soon!

  5. I LOVE Ross and I can't deny it! I didn't know about them until I moved out west and they are awesome. I also love Burlington!

  6. Girl, I was the same! I always bought clothes from Old Navy and AE in high school. Oh how times have changed. Thank goodness. F21 will forever be one of my favorites. I love how diverse their clothing is. It stresses me out to go shopping in stores though. I definitely have to be in a shopping mood. Ross is one of my fave stores room if actually gotten some nice clothes from Wal-Mart that I've had for years that I still get compliments on.

  7. A lot of these are my favorites too including J. Crew Factory, Forever 21, LOFT, SheIn, and more. I shop all of these places online instead of in store haha.

  8. Most of these are my favorites too haha! I always love where other bloggers actually buy their clothes from!

  9. We share a lot of amazing stores! I prefer J. Crew Factory to the regular J. Crew also!

  10. We share a lot of favourite stores, but there were also a few that I didn't know and should probably check out. I love to go to forever21 or h&m for accessories or workout clothes, but for everything else I don't shop often there anymore. I love banana republic!

  11. I love this post! I also love seeing where people like to shop, IDK why lol. We do have a few stores in common buttt there are a few that I haven't shopped from that I should totally give a try. I'm going to save this for next time I get a shopping itch :-)

  12. So many good picks! I love F21 and H&M for fashion pieces and investment pieces are almost always nordstrom for me!

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