What should I buy at American Apparel?
January 15, 2014 10:47 AM   Subscribe

I was gifted a $40 Groupon-like certificate for spending on the American Apparel online shop. What are some of the best items to buy?

I don't love American Apparel, and most of my previous purchases from there have been hit or miss. I find that sizing is erratic, quality sometimes questionable, and their unisex clothing is widely unflattering for my body shape (5'2", 125 lbs, curvy upper body, straight but not super thin lower body). That said, I still think there are things to be bought there that could work for me, and hey... FREE CLOTHES.

What are you favourite non-unisex items from American Apparel that I should consider spending my $40 on? I'm willing to spend a little bit extra, but not too much, and I'm also open to suggestions like "seriously, just buy $40 worth of socks".
posted by ohmy to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The track jacket is the one thing from AA that I wear frequently, like the look of, and feel comfortable in. The cotton fleece is surprisingly warm.

I think the "unisex" in the item name may be misleading for an outer garment.
posted by psoas at 10:52 AM on January 15, 2014

For me, American Apparel is really good for the basics - socks, underwear, and t-shirts. If it were me, I'd probably buy a couple pairs of socks and a couple pairs of underwear.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:56 AM on January 15, 2014

I have a nylon American Apparel gym bag (maybe this one?) that folds up into a pouch and has been handy. I haven't put it through that much but it's been useful for times when we've visited family or gone on vacation and returned with more items than we left with.
posted by kat518 at 10:57 AM on January 15, 2014

I really like their nail polish, if that's something you are into.
posted by insectosaurus at 10:59 AM on January 15, 2014

I have a couple pairs of their basic black leggings that I really like, especially for the gym--they're pretty lightweight but still thick enough that you can wear them like pants (as opposed to having to wear shorts over them, which is the case with some of the leggings I have).
posted by lovableiago at 11:01 AM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'll go ahead and cast a vote for Team Socks. American Apparel is indeed very hit-or-miss when it comes to their trendier items, but the basics are solid, and the socks in particular seem to wear extremely well. Alternately, I adore their thermal "long-johns"...they're more expensive than you'll pay for similar-looking items at Target, etc., but my grey cotton waffle-weave pants have ended up being amazing for winter pajama bottoms, layering, etc. Well worth the $26ish they cost (IIRC).
posted by aecorwin at 11:04 AM on January 15, 2014

The cotton spaghetti strap tank top I got there more than 10 years ago (whoa) is still great. I've heard the baby rib stuff stretches out so maybe avoid that.
I'd also get a circle scarf.
posted by rmless at 11:05 AM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah that track jacket is awesome -- I've had one for almost ten years now -- but they definitely run small, like everything else at AA.

Also their hooded scarf is one of my favorite articles of clothing.
posted by griphus at 11:05 AM on January 15, 2014

All their hoodies are great. I have approximately your build and buy "unisex" size small. I'm wearing the Track Jacket right now and it does run a little small at the waist/hip. I can zip my regular unisex hoodie but cannot zip the Track Jacket.

Yes, they are unisex. However, it's a hoodie. So.

I used to have one of their circle scarves and didn't really dig it. But it might just be the fact that it turns out I don't really like jersey material circle scarves.

I second their leggings. Expensive, but much higher quality than some others.
posted by Sara C. at 11:11 AM on January 15, 2014

I have found their small leather goods to be a really good value. The last time that I had money to spend there, I bought a tiny coin purse and a couple of leather pouches. I use them in my purse (one for keys, one for lip balm/lotion/tissue, one for pens, etc.) so that little odds and ends don't get lost or shred/stain the lining.
posted by Austenite at 11:15 AM on January 15, 2014

Their stockings and hose are also pretty high-quality, plus so many colors!
posted by like_a_friend at 11:16 AM on January 15, 2014

Oh, yeah, and their tights - I haven't bought tights in a while (moved from the Midwest to LA a couple of years ago), but if you have ever grumbled about how hard it is to find tights that don't run or tear on the first wear, I'd recommend a couple of pairs of theirs. They are relatively durable, and come in a wider range of saturated colors than can be found other places, especially out of season.
posted by Austenite at 11:19 AM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

The jersey-knit skirts seem to last and look good forever; I have two convertible dresses that have been in heavy rotation at least 6 years.
posted by fiercecupcake at 11:24 AM on January 15, 2014

Winter leggings! They're completely opaque, comfortable, and last for a long time.
posted by fox problems at 11:46 AM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

I recently had to throw out a pair of AA underpants (girls y-fronts) that were really far too worn. At that point I realized they were the pair I had someone buy me in the US in 2002. They are like tanks! I have other pairs bought within few years if that showing no major wear, all in heavy rotation as fave pants.
posted by Iteki at 12:21 PM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Tights! They are durable and come in several sizes and colors.
posted by stompadour at 2:17 PM on January 15, 2014

I also love my AA track jacket and hoodie. Their racer-back tanks are rad too.
posted by radioamy at 3:13 PM on January 15, 2014

The knee-high socks are the only thing I really really love from AA. The other unisex stuff all fits me weird, but both my boyfriend and I love the striped knee-high socks. I buy him AA Groupons about once a year so he can stock up on new colors. They never wear out and the colors hold up well.
posted by jabes at 4:02 PM on January 15, 2014

My sister is a former AA employee who is super cheap when it comes to dressing herself and she STILL swears by the leggings. I remember her saying that one reason she likes them is that they're longer than most leggings, so you can wear them with ankle boots without it looking weird.
posted by quiet coyote at 6:18 PM on January 15, 2014

You sound like you're my height, but thinner, so their Plaid Full Woven Skirt would probably fit you. It's actually really nice, but it's on the short side, even on a 5'2" person. I wish I could pull it off.

I have AA's Nylon Pack Cloth Weekender Duffle Bag and Diagonal Strap Gym Bag, and they are indestructible. The latter is gigantic (nearly as large as the weekender), so don't let the name fool you. I love them, and they are great.

Just as a warning, the Sheer Jersey Shirred Knee-Length Full Skirt is not so great. It's not sheer, thankfully, but it's not hemmed and it pills like crazy. I love the cut, though.
posted by topoisomerase at 7:17 PM on January 15, 2014

I love this scarf. It's also available in a super soft sheer material.
posted by morganannie at 8:11 AM on January 16, 2014

Thigh high socks. Nice quality, cosy warm and so very, very sexy. They stay up too.
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth at 4:18 AM on January 18, 2014

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