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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FIU chapter.

When I first learned about fast fashion, I immediately wondered if there was a way to limit my consumption in an age where influencing has become the norm. It wasn’t until I discovered the joy of thrifting through places like Goodwill and Depop that I truly began to understand how small actions like buying second-hand clothes can make a big impact on the environment. Rather than succumb to the newest trends that will be out of season in a few months, I began to invest in pieces that were durable and versatile, creating what has come to be known as a “capsule closet.” Below are just a few tips I’ve gathered over the years to help you get started at thrifting:

Plan ahead

Have a friend’s birthday this weekend or an important interview coming up? Thrifting is so much easier when you have a goal in mind. Even if you’re hoping to just find a cute new tee, it’s helpful to know what color, style or design you want to find so that you know what places to go to, which leads me to my next point:

take your time

While places like Goodwill are good at organizing sections of women’s and men’s clothing, others like Thrift Vintage Outlet will have bins full of random clothes that you have to go through on your own. By picking a location or two, you can easily go from one place to the next without feeling discouraged. Going with time is key if you want to find great pieces at some of the best stores Miami has to offer, like those in Flamingo Plaza

Don’t Rely on Brands

It can be tempting to find a pair of Levi’s that are only $10 or a Michael Kors purse for $15, but only reaching for brand-name items can become a fruitless attempt at buying consciously. It’s easy to believe that the bigger the brand name, the better the material/quality but that is not always the case. Looking up durable fabrics like cotton or silk, on the other hand, will ensure your thrifted items will last you longer than a month. 

Try It On

At our age, we tend to believe we’re done growing and have more or less an idea of what our pant or shirt size may be. But the beautiful part about being a woman is that our bodies are constantly changing to keep us strong and healthy (whether that means losing a pound or gaining two). Size tags can be unreliable when clothes are grouped randomly together, so make it a point to try on every item. If you’re still hesitant, you could also bring your favorite dress or pair of pants to compare along with your measurements. Be confident in the fitting room and remember, it’s not your body, it’s the clothes! 

Be Aware of Flaws

Since these clothes are all sold second-hand, it’s common to find clothes with minor stains, holes or pilling. While some of these may be an easy fix for those with sewing experience, it’s important to ask yourself if you’re really going to take the item home and mend it, or if it’s just going to stay in the back of your closet.

have fun!

Thrifting can be a fun experience while looking for what you need. When I go alone, it’s a bit like retail therapy with my headphones playing my favorite songs. With friends, it can be a great experience in finding items that make you say, “This would look so good on you.” Through these experiences, I’ve been able to discover my own style, save a couple dollars, and be more conscious of my environmental footprint

Kayla Melendez is a senior studying English Literature at FIU. Upon graduation, she hopes to teach secondary education or obtain a freelance position writing about topics like books, films, tv shows, and all things pop culture. If she’s not studying or working, you can find her reading or updating her Letterboxd account.