Personal shoppers are for rich girls with no style—but you secretly wish you had one, right? Instead, you have to rely on friends, who tend to just pick out things that would look good on them. And when it comes to vintage, it’s a matter of dumb luck if you and your dream dress will ever be united.
Most of us think of shopping as either a chore or a guilty indulgence, but rarely do we achieve the art of it. Vintage collector Morgan Yakus is truly an artist, and she’s also your new personal shopper. With the skills of a hunter (a well-trained eye, passion, access) she culls vintage clothing from top-secret sources and sells them at the Chelsea Flea Market and to celebrities, designers, and stores around town. Her stall stands out from the others—there is no polyester to be found, no worn-out, stained schmatas in sight. And a perfect cotton summer dress is usually between $30 and $50 (she also buys older, rarer pieces that, naturally, cost more). At Chelsea, she can be found right in the middle of the lot—she has straight, dark hair and bangs.
As if going straight to the source weren’t enough, Yakus will hunt down an item you have been searching for or fantasized about. She has supplied mint condition ’50s prom dresses and has tracked down that sexy top one customer always dreamed of. If you become a regular, she’ll keep you in mind when she is buying clothes. She’ll know your size, what kind of shapes you wear, and—most importantly—understand your taste. Nothing gives Yakus more joy than finding an item of clothing that truly fits both body and personality. “A dress can be completely simple and ordinary, but really come alive on the right girl,” she says. “It’s very important for girls to look comfortable in the clothes they’re wearing. That’s what makes it stylish.”
While she doesn’t buy clothes she truly dislikes, Yakus does have the crucial ability to understand personal style, which means she can appreciate items she wouldn’t wear herself. When shopping, she often picks up a dress or top and thinks, “I know the kind of girl who would love this,” so she buys it. If you ask her to, she will keep you in mind for those moments, and when you come to the flea market, she will have a stash put aside just for you to look through—something we’ve only dreamed of before. The most amazing part is that, in most cases, Yakus doesn’t charge a fee. The customer pays for the items only—unless what you’ve asked for is very time-consuming to hunt down.
Considering her vocation, it’s almost too perfect to hear that Yakus’s parents met in an antique store. From an early age, she has been honing her skills—at seven she collected pins to wear on oversized men’s jackets (“Molly Ringwald was my main inspiration then,” she explained recently.) Her big break came when she became creative assistant to the design director at DKNY. She also did “vintage inspiration” work for the company, and later at Jill Stuart, meaning she culled fabric, clothing, and accessories from a particular period, and created installations to fuel the designers’ imaginations. She has also worked as a stylist for Lauryn Hill, among others. This all seems to have led directly to her current career, as a new kind of personal shopper, and a savior to many fumbling vintage fans.