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Miss Lissa MILF Manual Column
Source: JT Anderson / @theknewqueen

I’ve always considered fashion as a form of self-expression. I credit my sense of style to my favorite TV show characters, movies, and magazines like Vogue, Teen Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Lucky Magazine. I believe clothes are wearable art. I discovered I could use garments to transform into whatever, or whoever I wanted, and even though I didn’t have a lot of money, I could look like I did through thrifting.

With limited financial options, I made it work. I wanted to dress like a savvy socialite, ie: Lisa Turtle, on Saved by the Bell, but my pockets only allowed me to recycle the same outfit- more like Lisa Simpson. Okay, I’m being extra, I alternated between a few pieces to create different looks. Though my closet didn’t have the frocks I fantasized about, I dreamed of being a famous fashion designer.

My core fashion sense comes from my Harlem roots. We don’t just wear clothes, we “create looks.” My inner Harlemnyte loves labels but my inner Hell’s Kitchen living introduced me to the concept of high and low, from which my love for thrifting emerged. The thought of second-hand clothes wasn’t initially appealing but once I started, I was hooked! I proudly perused the racks at Rags-A-GoGo, the Salvation Army, or Buffalo Exchange. Shopping on a budget was no longer a survival tactic, I found a happy place that granted me the variety I desired in my youth.

I don’t limit my budgeted shopping to thrift shops. Shopping high and low is key. You can combine cute pieces from Walmart, Rainbow, Shein, or Zara with higher-priced items with name-brand bags or shoes. I’ve even found $5 tees in Five Below. The key is understanding what works best for your personal style/body type and being able to distinguish the difference between an item being cheap vs. looking cheap. A low price doesn’t have to mean low quality.

I used to hate the idea of closet “staples,” Now, I take pride in being able to finesse one item multiple ways. Hey, if Tiffany Haddosh can wear the same look multiple times, so can I.

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MILF Manual: How Thrifting Helped Me Develop My Personal Style  was originally published on hellobeautiful.com