Courtesy of the Hot Topic Collection
What I'm essentially trying to say here is that Hot Topic falls into the category that stores like Joyce Leslie, Mandee, DEB, and Wet Seal fall into, although the Hot Topic brand seems to be a little more goth. These stores sell glorified stripper-wear under the guise that it's trendy and fashionable. Pleather, glitter, nylon, and mesh are not fashionable (never have been!) nor are they age-appropriate for the demographic that these stores market to.
The clothes that these stores sell are cheaply made and the shoddy construction is obvious. I cringe anytime I see a gaggle of teeny-bopper girls running around decked out in Wet Seal's finest. I tend to steer clear of stores that specialize in all things plastic, stretchy, and shiny. These materials generally do not exude class, but apparently, 15-year-old girls from Middle America haven't yet caught on. Wet Seal must have one hell of a PR guy - no matter how cheaply made and shoddily-constructed the store's garments are, the tweens keep on coming in - in droves.
I understand that Wet Seal or Mandee may be a cheaper alternative to overly-expensive trendy stores that cater to to the teeny-bopper set like Anthropologie, Armani Exchange, and Diesel. But there is a way to go inexpensive without looking like a $2 a-night-child prostitute. Ever heard of The Gap or H&M? The ratio of pleather to cotton at either of these two stores is far smaller than at Hot Topic / Wet Seat / Mandee / Joyce Leslie. And I'm pretty sure the prices are comparable - not that I've been into a Joyce Leslie since freshman year in college when I purchased a 100% polyester plaid kilt with an up-to-there hemline to wear as part of my naughty Catholic school girl Halloween costume. And for the record, I would just like to say that I only ventured into Joyce Leslie because it was around the corner from my dorm and I had less than two hours to throw together the costume.
Anyway, all I am saying here is that there really is no excuse to patronize any of the aforementioned stores - unless you are deliberately trying to go for the baby prostitute look. See below for more examples.
Courtesy of the Wet Seal Collection