My Top Shopping Tip? Forget the Rules and Buy What Makes You Happy

Fashion has had a place in my heart since I was about 2 years old in San Juan, Puerto Rico, piling all of my grandma's jewelry on top of hot-pink pajamas, refusing to go to the grocery store without at least three layered necklaces and a handbag (for storing my pacifiers, obviously). After moving to Miami a couple of years later, I grew into a young girl who devoured and collected magazines, reading every article, imagining myself wearing the fur coats, metallic heels, and luxe jewelry in every advertisement. Soon enough, I was cutting up those magazines, collaging moodboards, drawing my own "fashion designs," and blogging about my outfits and inspiration.

Fashion has always been both fantasy and self-expression for me. Its draw comes from the excitement of creating who I can be through the outward expression of who I am. Wearing a green croc-embossed purse or a string of pearls can make me feel like an aristocratic, mysterious woman in 1940s New York, but they also just make me feel like my best self, and allow me to meet a new facet of my personality. I've never had just one style: I go from bohemian harem-pant-wearing free spirit to the aforementioned mysterious New York woman to romantic-floral-minidress connoisseur. And within that fact is the top shopping tip I always, always follow: buy what you want.

Buy what you want. It sounds so simple, right? But in the time we're living in, a world of influencers and constant Instagram activations, of having a brand you "must" adhere to, it's almost a rebellion to buy what makes you happy and create your personal style without following a road map of what you "should" wear. I truly respect influencers and content creators, and I follow so many of them on social media so I can save their inspiring posts for my digital moodboard. That being said, there is a certain fearlessness that comes with forgetting what other people are doing and just doing what you want. It's a bravery that speaks of confidence, creativity, and thoughtfulness.

There is a certain fearlessness that comes with forgetting what other people are doing and just doing what you want.

If fashion isn't about having fun, then what is it about? If pairing tie-dye socks with dad sandals, big shorts, and a camp shirt you loved in high school is what makes you happy, wear it! And the same is true if your joyful combination is a bodycon dress and platform heels. Go to the mall, preferably with friends, and try on whatever you like — rock your choices, take pictures, laugh at the ill-fitting stuff, and get excited about the very, very good pieces. Or go to a vintage store and snag a secondhand haul to transform, tie-dyeing shirts or sweatpants or even cutting up and sewing garments into totally new gems. By making shopping fun and buying whatever you truly want and love, you're sure to bring home items you'll treasure.

Buying and wearing whatever you want is my top tip, but not letting the clothes wear you is a close second. Trust your sartorial picks, and wear them with happiness and confidence. Sure, a beautiful top can be a work of art, but always remember that the true work of art is you. The rest is just adornment. I learned the hard way that the most important thing in fashion, apart from wearing what you love, is choosing pieces that aren't just uniquely you but that also fit well and accentuate your beauty. I have kept so many garments in my closet over the years, particularly trendy "must" buys, that were too tight on my waist, or that I knew didn't really complement my skin tone. Find the top that brings out the color of your eyes, pair it with some special bracelets or a vintage bag, throw on your comfiest, most flattering jeans, and you won't regret it! Enjoy the fashion process, especially the wearing, at every turn. Fashion should never be about exclusion or a chosen club — it should always be about celebration of your intricacies. You're an incredible canvas, so get creative!