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Fiercely Thriftin's Guide to Thrift Shopping Like a Pro

Image Via Ashley Brozic
Image Via Ashley Brozic

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Thrifting is a family affair for Veronica Canales. She's been sorting through second-hand racks with her mom and sister since she was younger, and shares the stylish and price-savvy tidbits of her daily life on her blog, Fiercely Thriftin'. Barely an outfit surpasses $15 (she shudders at the thought of a single thrift store item costing this much) and, luckily for us, offers personal lessons about how to properly thrift.

Naturally we had to give these lessons a go, so one fine day we joined Veronica at the Salvation Army in Olympia Heights for a shopping trip. As we sifted through rows and rows of future denim DIY projects, questionable patterned sweaters and items too good to pass up (most notably, a clear belt with golden elephants tacked around and a slightly battered Doony & Bourke bag), we were able to wring out her prized thrifting tips to share with you, so before you check out her garage sale this Sunday, study these suggestions . Who knows? Maybe you'll out thrift Miami's thrifting pro herself.

When to go: For the best finds, research when the store brings out their new inventory. For the Salvation Army on Bird Road, this day is Wednesday. "Get here at 10 a.m. That's when they bring everything out and you can really find a lot." Why else should you go Wednesday? Everything is half off, so the chances of getting an outfit for under $5 is extremely likely.

The basics of thrifting: "For people who first start thrifting, they can come in and get a little bit of anxiety, especially if they don't have patience. It takes time," says Veronica. "Sometimes you don't know what you're looking for and don't know where to start." The best thing to do is to come in with an idea of what you like or want, and if you find a piece that falls into this category, pick it up and consider ways to fix it so that it matches your vision. "If I really like high wasted shorts, I'll just start with the jeans. Then, if I like how they fit, I'll cut them," she says. "From there, I'll go on to long sleeve tops, but I like them loose fitted. So if I find one with a really cool print, even if it's big on me, I take it. I could probably wear it with a skirt, black shear tights and little booties and that's it. I'm ready to go."

What to do if there are no fitting rooms: Try to wear something fitted, like a tank top or leggings, and be a little discreet about it. "I always try things on but if I can't, I'll wear fitted shorts or leggings. Then ill go in a little corner and try them on over my clothes."

Before you try on those jeans: Before trying anything on, especially pants, make sure you inspect the item first. "Sometimes they have stains in the middle or there could be stuff in it. You do not want to try that on. That's happened to me and I left it," she admits.

What to do when something doesn't fit: If you like something but it doesn't fit, you can always consider tailoring it. In Veronica's case, she suggests trying to DIY. "For me? I don't take it anywhere because I like oversized clothes, but if you do like fitted clothing you can just cut it and play around with it. There are a bunch of YouTube tutorials that teach you how to do things," she says. "That's how I did my jean jacket. I found it here for $3 and I just bleached it myself. It came out great, but then I tried another one and I completely messed it up." [Laughs]

Why you should always clean your clothes: As a general rule, always, always, ALWAYS clean your clothes, including accessories like hats. "I clean everything because you don't know where its been. It doesn't matter if its donated and has a tag on it, you have to clean it." Not cleaning your clothes could lead to serious repercussions, like skin rashes.

The deal with shoes: Buying shoes is totally fine, but make sure you disinfect them. "I'll get my Lysol wipes and clean them, and then I'll put Gold Bond powder in them." Also, Veronica always checks the soles of the shoes to see if they're damaged, or if they've had too much wear and tear.

What you should never buy: "Underwear and bottom bathing suits," she says. "No. Don't buy that. Or socks, unless you're going to put them in OxiClean all day."

When you come across a damaged piece: Relax, and remember you're at a thrift store. "You can't come into a thrift store and expect it to be perfect. It's not gonna be like that. Some pieces are going to be messed up because people are getting rid of their clothing," she says.

How to spruce up a damaged piece: Fixing damaged pieces all depends on the material. For most things, Veronica just cleans it up with OxiClean. For certain other items, she requires the help of a household pro, like her mom. "All the leather pieces that I've found my mom usually helps me clean them. I don't know exactly how she does it, but I know that first she puts it in water. Then she uses fabric softener and then she'll just leave it out to dry over a towel." When it comes to minor fixes, Veronica uses temporary measures, like safety pins and double sided tape.

On the topic of haggling: "I haggle all the time," she says. "I found this 100 percent leather jacket, and they were selling it for $40! So I went up to the employees and I said 'I'm here every Wednesday! Let me have it for less.' And they gave it to me for $20, which is a lot at a thrift shop but I'd rather pay $20 for real leather than pay $200 at The Limited. Ive never worn the jacket, but I just needed to have it."
· Fiercely Thriftin' [Official Site]