Expert Tips For Vintage Shopping Like A Pro

If vintage guru, stylist and writer Natalie Joos isn’t already on your radar, she should be. The connoisseur of all things thrift and creator of Tales of Endearment just opened a pop-up shop in Venice, California, and it’s bursting at the seams with gems like ethereal sundresses, summer-weight topcoats and Coachella-worthy accessories. Since Ms. Joos is an expert at sourcing mint-condition vintage, we tapped her for buying tips. Here, what to know before you drop your tax refund on a vintage shopping spree.

Tales of Endearment, 1633 Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Venice, CA 90291

What is the most common mistake people make when vintage shopping?

"You can't go vintage shopping thinking you're going to find a specific thing, like 'Oh, I would love to find a red polka-dot shirt with ruffles.' The clothes speak to you. You have to see what you find. It's better to go out and see what happens."

Why is buying vintage more eco-conscious?

"We are recycling. It's the greenest form of fashion because you're passing clothes from generation to generation. That's why I condone vintage fur. If you're going to buy fur, you should buy vintage. You're not wasting any energy or asking anything from the planet."

What factors drive up the price?

"If it's a really unusual piece and I’ve never seen anything like it before—anywhere—it will be more expensive because it's so unique. Obviously a designer name will always drive up the price, but I find there is way more designer stuff out there than cool, unusual no-brand vintage pieces. I'm always on the lookout for vintage items that don't have a brand name."

What if you fall in love with a vintage piece that doesn't fit?

"Know you're not going to find something that fits you perfectly—if you do, eureka! You have to buy it! If it doesn’t fit, find a tailor and have it altered. I interviewed Harley Viera-Newton and she said every time she buys vintage she brings it to her tailor immediately. All the dresses in her closet are the same length, like a uniform. It's a formula that works for her. Find a good tailor, someone you can trust."