Review: Tales of Endearment

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In 2017, style blogs are a dime a dozen.

This is merely fact, neither a good nor bad thing until interpreted by those in the fashion community. (Bad news to the magazine industry, good news for brands looking for free advertising.)

In a city such as this one, you’ll find folks everywhere who have their own blog. The writer of this article has one, for example.

And out of all the blogs and YouTube channels and personal branding has come an influx of deserved and undeserved book deals. This has often been the way for many a franchise: conquer one medium, find another.

In 2010, however, this was not the norm, as Natalie Joos points out in an introduction to her book, Tales of Endearment: Modern Vintage Lovers and Their Extraordinary Wardrobes. That year, Joos created her blog of the same name, a vintage-focused tour through the lives and passions of friends and strangers. The site launched in the pre-blogging-blowout years and became hugely successful. Now, seven years later, Joos has compiled stories of some of the most captivating vintage-lovers she has come across in her travels.

The book itself is beautiful, which is something I would expect from Joos based on her website design and her eye for photography alone. The photographs accompanying each story capture their subjects in their homes, outside, formally and candidly. Joos shoots areas of their home, beloved pieces from their wardrobe and other things that can be more intimate and revealing about a person than any answer they can give to a question. And many of those wardrobe pieces (I’m thinking of the completely mind-blowing closet of stylist Catherine Baba) are just to-die-for. If I’m ever feeling a bit down, looking at beautiful vintage clothes is a pretty easy way to cheer myself up. If you’re the same way, this is an ideal coffee table book to have on hand.

Joos writing style is that of the blogger: casual, anecdotal and familiar, like a friend recounting an encounter to you over Eggs Benedict, instead of something you’re reading from a book penned by a stranger. Part of Joos’s charm comes from her ability to take these larger-than-life characters and make them more relatable.

And these characters are strange. They are international, diverse, unrelated except for their collective love of vintage clothing. It makes me wonder how Joos finds everyone she features, and above all I commend her for featuring the style secrets of Dee Hilfiger, Maxine Ashley, and Greg Banks in the same book. Seeing their stories back-to-back is fascinating and provides endless style inspiration for whatever persona you are inhabiting in that moment.

I believe this to be one of Joos’s strongest points, and my favourite part of the book. Within its pages, she tells the stories of an incredibly varied cast of characters, each one as endlessly fascinating as the last. It’s the people who populate Tales of Endearment that make it great. While Joos’s writing and photography convey their stories in a pleasant way, something also needs to be said for finding so many different perspectives on the same topic and giving each perspective space to come across genuinely.

Reading the book has turned me into a fan of the blog, which I did not read regularly before. It’s a bit of a wonder, isn’t it, that publishers turn to books as their next conquest after finding success on the Internet. But people like books, the same way the stars of Tales of Endearment like vintage clothing. It has a weight to it, a meaning and intent that isn’t found in its faster, modern counterparts. These days, it feels like a choice.

I’m going to recommend this one to every vintage lover, fashion lover, anyone who likes a good short story, and anyone who likes meeting new and interesting people. Like me, I think you’ll find yourself endeared.

Tales of Endearment will be available in Canada starting November 21st. You can visit the blog here and follow Natalie Joos on Instagram here.