Although we frequently (and enthusiastically) share our editors' picks, fashion week essentials and wish list-worthy items, we rarely dive deep into our regular shopping habits and the stores we turn to for our own wardrobes. Well, that's about to change: Team Fashionista ranked the world's best women's clothing stores to give you the crème de la crème when it comes to well-made, well-designed apparel at budget-friendly prices.
Here's how we came up with our top choices: Women's clothing should be offered (obviously), and we considered overall desirability, clothing construction, price (as it relates to quality) and accessibility to a large audience. Discount, department stores and boutique retailers were not included.
Read on for our ranking of Fashionista's 10 favorite women's clothing stores below. Did we miss one that you love? Let us know in the comments section.
The Story: Part of the H&M group since 2007, Cos stands for Collection of Style and offers a highly curated collection of classic pieces.
The Pros: Subtle but timeless pieces, from tailored trousers and coats to refined knits and simple dresses, as well as quality footwear with a budget-friendly price point.
The Cons: Though Cos has expanded worldwide, storefronts in the U.S. are still scarce. Sizing can be a bit tricky here, too — especially for petites — but since the styles are so minimal, a trip to the tailor is an easy fix.
9. Urban Outfitters
The Story: Urban Outfitters launched in 1970 in Philadelphia, just across from University of Pennsylvania. Since then, the retailer has successfully tapped into the student lifestyle and that demographic's shopping needs, offering everything from cool clothes, housewares and gifts to up-and-coming beauty brands. Some locations have even expanded with a café or restaurant.
The Pros: We can always rely on the in-house collections to offer great, affordable must-haves. Lately, Urban has mastered the nostalgia trend through comeback collaborations with Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Fila, Juicy Couture and more.
The Story: Short for Hennes & Mauritz, H&M has been around for more than seven decades, but it wasn't until the year 2000 — when its first U.S. store opened in New York City — that the Swedish retailer made its mark as a go-to, one-stop-shop retailer. H&M's coveted designer collaborations cannot be beat: Past partnerships have included Karl Lagerfeld, Stella McCartney, Alber Elbaz for Lanvin, Alexander Wang, Comme des Garçons and Balmain.
The Pros: Seriously, this fast fashion store has everything: Athleisure, denim, basics and trend-driven styles, as well as loads of footwear, jewelry, accessories and beauty products. You could find a lint roller at this store if you tried. I definitely have.
The Cons: While this store's prices are easy on the wallet, you have to dig a little deeper to find a great piece worth buying. There's also the looming issue of the company's questionable ethics when it comes to its factory conditions and manufacturing practices, which have been investigated and well-documented over the years.
The Story: A retail staple in the UK since the early aughts, Sir Philip Green's high street retailer has skyrocketed in success, thanks to Topshop's trendy collections and stellar celebrity collaborations with the likes of Kate Moss, Beyoncé, and Kendall and Kylie Jenner.
The Pros: Chances are you'll always find something you love in Topshop's massive selection, and the solid crew of campaign stars — Gigi Hadid, Taylor Hill, Lottie Moss, etc. — surely helps. Highlights include party dresses galore, always-on-point footwear and jewelry, a solid denim collection, and tall, petite and plus-size versions of most offerings.
The Cons: Exchange rates and shipping cause prices in the U.S. to be more expensive than in the UK. Sometimes the pieces can feel a little too on trend — or like an obvious knockoff — which makes us wary of certain potential purchases.
6. & Other Stories
The Story: One of the newest brands from the H&M group, & Other Stories was founded in 2013 with design studios in Stockholm, Paris and Los Angeles. Aside from Rodarte, we love how the brand taps into low-key industry insiders and lesser-known labels for collaborations.
The Pros: If you're looking for beautiful pieces that have more than a one-season shelf life, this is the place. Don't skip out on the beauty section either: & Other Stories was initially a beauty concept before it expanded into ready-to-wear and accessories.
The Cons: Prices can be steep and sales are rare at this retailer. Locations are still limited, too: As of November 2016, there are only 45 stores worldwide.
5. J. Crew
The Story: J.Crew launched in 1983 as a shopping catalog, and has since become one of the most well-known retailers in America.
The Pros: The brand sure knows how to make good clothes — and how to style them well. We're big fans of its fashion week presentations, lookbooks and catalogs, which provide ample inspiration for our everyday looks.
The Cons: There's a very specific aesthetic that comes from J.Crew — a preppy mashup that's more fun than polished — but it's what the brand does best. Customers have been vocal about its alleged decline in quality, sharing their criticisms via the hashtag #ReviveJCrew.
The Story: Japanese retailer Uniqlo is known for its no-frills basics, often rooted in function or improving the wearer's everyday needs. (Think HeatTech leggings, super-lightweight puffer jackets and Airism, its line of breathable garments.)
The Pros: Affordable prices for great quality. Their collaborations keep getting better, too, from Jil Sander, Carine Roitfeld and Muslim designer Hana Tajima to Christophe Lemaire's U Uniqlo range to J.W. Anderson's anticipated LifeWear collection.
The Cons: Stores are generally massive in size, and with such minimal designs — available in a handful of colors — this can be overwhelming. Uniqlo's U.S. locations are still limited to (and around) major cities, but it has ambitious plans for stateside expansion and increased brand awareness.
The Story: Founded in 1975, the Spanish retailer has expanded worldwide and continues to push itself to become one of the fastest design-to-delivery brands in the world.
The Pros: If you ask a fashion person about her outfit, chances are an item will be from Zara. (Even Kate Middleton shops here!) Its e-commerce site and app are both efficient, user-friendly and borderline addictive. When this retailer holds a mid-season sale, you do not want to miss it.
The Cons: So many — almost too many — designer knockoffs. Plus, its come under fire for unfair and inhumane labor practices in its factories a significant number of times over the years, as well as faced lawsuits from former employees for racial and religious discrimination.
The Story: Founded in 2010, Everlane is a San Francisco-based company that follows a business model of cutting out the middleman in retail, running its own factories and avoiding exorbitant markup prices, all while being transparent with its customers about costs and production.
The Pros: Great quality clothes and accessories at great prices. We always look forward to seeing what the brand comes out with next.
The Cons: Everlane's business primarily takes place online, so there are only two brick-and-mortar locations in San Francisco and New York, along with the occasional pop-up shop.
The Pros: Ever wanted to dress like an effortlessly cool tomboy who is definitely friends with Alexa Chung? Shop here.
The Cons: Madewell's brick-and-mortar presence is still small compared to J.Crew, but partnerships with Nordstrom and Net-a-Porter, as well as international shipping, has made the brand much more accessible to shoppers around the globe.