Seeing a stranger wearing the same J.Crew print you're in is akin to seeing your ex with someone new. You know it's out there, and totally within its rights to be with someone else, but oh how it stings.
Circumvent the situation—or just spice up your closet's mix—by shopping outside of the mass brands you've come to rely on (that's you, Zara, Madewell, and Anthopologie). We've outlined ten options from boutiques to designers to new launches that should guarantee you don't wind up in the same thing as everyone else this fall, and they're all comparatively priced with the mall stores you'd be dropping cash at anyway. Wardrobe enlightenment, right this way.
The swap: Anthropologie
Feminine dresses and tops in pretty prints are Poppy's best bets, stocking Free People and Sundry next to Lauren Moffatt and Yumi Kim.
The swap: not-quite-basics from HELMUT Helmut Lang and T by Alexander Wang.
Oak's in-house line features a selection of boxy and asymmetrical tees for under $100, offering an instant upgrade for denim days. The jersey dresses give the guise of sophisticate while still being as comfortable as the T-shirt material they're made of.
The swap: ASOS, upgraded
Artful prints and happy color combos collide in Dusen Dusen's collection. Throw on one of their cheerful day dresses (mostly under $200) with your favorite boots for instant good day vibes.
The swap: Zara Woman
New from Gap Inc.-owned Piperlime is the launch of their own in-house line. The clothes ring in between $50 and $150, with cool evening options like dressy jumpsuits, on-trend jackets, and pretty blouses versatile enough for office or weekend.
The swap: Forever21
Brandy Melville does inexpensive, '90s-inspired basics with aplomb. Tanks and tees hit the mark, but don't sleep on the knits, which are all under $50.
The swap: Madewell
Mirroring the selection at their Brooklyn storefront, Article& offers clothes, shoes, and accessories in the $50 to $150 range. Plaid button-ups, gamine pants, and your next pair of all-day-every-day shoes are among the shop's hits, hailing from a razor sharp edit of brands like Minkpink, Paul & Joe Sister, and Dolce Vita.
The swap: full price J.Crew
From the daughters of Chris Burch (the retail braun behind C.Wonder and co-founder of Tory Burch, to who he was married) comes Trademark, a new line of clothes, shoes, bags, and accessories. The look is preppy but paired down and the clothes are shockingly well-made compared to other brands at their price point.
The swap: Nasty Gal
"Cute, omg cute, soo cute," plays on mental repeat while browsing Pixie Market's trendy, inexpensive goods. This is the cute that borders cool, with street style bait co-ords, printed dresses, and statement outerwear tucked inside the massive selection.
The swap: Urban Outfitters, grown up a bit
Babel Fair runs a pair of New York City shops, but you can peruse their global-minded stock from anywhere via their Shoptiques site. For under $200, score unique dresses, outfit-making knits, and cool jewelry accents.
Jack by BB Dakota
The swap: Topshop
The under-$100 tier of BB Dakota (which you've seen everywhere from little boutiques to Nordstrom) kills it in the dress department, offering ample options that are equally suited for work or date night. The coats and sweaters aren't shabby, either.