Calling all fashionistas! If you’re obsessed with fashion and high society throughout the ages, this is the book for you.
Betty Halbreich, mostly known for being the legendary personal shopper and the director of Solutions at New York City’s Bergdorf Goodman for about forty years, starts the first chapter of this memoir in the 1930’s as a young girl in Chicago playing dress-up in her mother and grandmother’s closet. Halbreich goes into great detail recalling how she would lay out her clothes the night before school: a crisp white blouse with puffy sleeves and a detachable Peter Pan collar, her freshly pressed knife-pleated skirt and her patent-leather Mary Janes that were shined to perfection with Vaseline. Her parents, successful socialites during the Great Depression, had cooks and maids filling their house, which was the epicenter of parties and gatherings; however, on a day-to-day basis her parents were rarely around, filling Halbreich with abandonment issues that would follow her throughout her life.
When she was nineteen and vacationing in Florida she met a hotel owner’s son, Sonny, who soon became her husband. Although she had anxiety about moving to NYC, her time was quickly filled with endless shopping and her two children. As time wore on her marriage fell apart and she lost herself in a world of meaningless retail. After hitting rock bottom she found her place at Bergdorf Goodman’s as a sales person, and then quickly as a highly sought after, no-nonsense personal shopper.
Throughout the years Halbreich developed loyal clients of all ages, and she eventually helped TV shows and movie sets develop wardrobes for characters (recently she helped develop the wardrobe for the 2014 movie The Other Woman starring Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and Kate Upton). She has styled the likes of Meryl Streep, Sarah Jessica Parker, Joan Rivers and even presidents’ wives.
This book should only be read by those who have a passion for clothes because much of the book describes different garments and choosing the perfect outfits for her clients. Halbreich’s history is very interesting, but it is written with such a dry, no-nonsense tone that it’s more informative than feeling.
Have you read this book or do you have any interest? What did you think? If you want to read more by Betty Halbreich check out her other memoir, Secrets of a Fashion Therapist: What You Can Learn Behind the Dressing Room Door.
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