04/11/2011 02:41 pm ET Updated Jun 11, 2011

The Jewels of Brooklyn Flea

If there's one thing that gets me inspired, it's vintage shopping. I
love learning the stories behind each piece, the history that's
embedded in the garments and accessories. I can't help but wonder
about the lives of the women who wore the dress before me, and what
kind of fabulous party they were at, and if the sweat stains under the
armpits that frustratingly never come out were the result of a night
of dancing into the dawn with the love of their life. It's a sentiment
I share with the protagonist of my new young adult book, The
Time-Traveling Fashionista
. In it, a 12 year old girl from Connecticut, Louise
Lambert, goes on a time-traveling adventure as a result of a magical
vintage dress she tries on at a mysterious sale.

I, along with my friend and fellow vintage enthusiast and expert,
Ariston Anderson, have made it our own personal odyssey to check out
every vintage store we come across in our travels. We're starting off
this column to help show you the greatest spots in the country for
vintage clothing, from where to find the perfect 80s prom dress, to
who has the best deals on Chanel quilted purses.

And to begin with, we thought we would get started in our hometown of
Brooklyn, because sometimes you take for granted what's right outside
your front stoop (or down the block in this case), often forgetting
that some of the best finds are right in our own borough. We decided
to conquer the Brooklyn Flea, taking along my Spanish publisher
Patricia who was in town for the week and on a quest to find the
perfect dress for a wedding in Tanzania. During the colder months,
it's housed in a former bank at One Hanson Place. The vaulted
ceilings, stained glass windows, and bulletproof safes make for a
unique and impressive shopping experience.

I've found some of my favorite vintage pieces at the flea, as has
Ariston, who recently walked away with a 1980s St. John sequin suit, a
1920s French bakelite bracelet, and a 1970s Halston-style black and
blue gown. But this time, we walked into the massive building with a
clear direction, heading for the massive jewelry collection of George
Yzquiredo at Estate Jewels to
see what gorgeous faux gems he had on display this week. Yzquiredo is
a well-known fixture at the flea and hard to miss with his bright
white curls. He knows the history behind each piece of his carefully
curated collection and, in his words, "not your usual flea market crap"

My personal favorite piece was a long, emerald-green strand of Gripoix
beads for Chanel from 1975-early 80s, that could be worn in an
elegant single strand, or doubled up. Its uniqueness comes from the fact that the green glass beads are all the
same shade, which apparently is really unusual for this technique. I
just think it looks fab and would be the perfect accessory to any
Little Black Dress. George explained that Chanel fans are one of two
groups, Chanel whores (who like a big conspicuous marking) and people
who collect Chanel. I don't fall into either of these categories, but
it was still interesting to hear about the different Chanel markings,
my favorite being that if it reads Chanel with three stars, that means
it was actually approved by the grand dame of fashion herself -- Coco

Another favorite piece we found was a large 1970s heavily enameled
ship necklace. It was a steal at $140. All you need is one statement
piece to make any outfit an original. And for $75, a gorgeous little
Art Deco hair comb from from the 20s is the perfect black tie finish.

This time around I left with nothing more than a Momofuku blueberries
and cream cookie, and a further discovery into the deep channels of
vintage costume jewelry, but that in itself seems like a successful