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Eighty-six-year-old Betty Halbreich is a true original. A tough broad who could have stepped straight out of Stephen Sondheim's repertoire, she has spent nearly 40 years as the legendary personal shopper at Bergdorf Goodman, where she works with socialites, stars, and ordinary women off the street. She has helped many find their true selves through clothes, frank advice, and her own brand of wisdom. She is trusted by the most discriminating persons - including Hollywood's top stylists - to tell them what looks best. But Halbreich's personal transformation from a cosseted young girl to a fearless truth teller is the greatest makeover of her career.
A Chicago native, Halbreich moved to Manhattan at 20 after marrying the dashing Sonny Halbreich, a true character right out of Damon Runyon who liked the nightlife of New York in the '50s. On the surface, they were a great match, but looks can be deceiving; an unfaithful Sonny was emotionally distant while Halbreich became increasingly anguished. After two decades, the fraying marriage finally came undone. Bereft without Sonny and her identity as his wife, she attempted suicide.
Meticulous, impeccable, hardworking, elegant, and - most of all - delightfully funny, Halbreich has never been afraid to tell it to her clients straight. She won't sell something just to sell it. If an outfit or shoe or purse is too expensive, she'll dissuade you from buying it. As Halbreich says, "There are two things nobody wants to face: their closet and their mirror." She helps women do both, every day.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Margaret on 12-30-14
Changing Role of American Women through Fashion
If you love clothes and have a keening interest in the vintage construction and luxe fabrics of times gone by, you will love this book. If clothes are not interesting to you, this book will bore you in places. Betty Halbreich's past is not heroic or triumphant - it is the story of a wealthy girl growing up during a time when little was expected of women except to look decorative, create a well-run, comfortable home, and spend their husband's earnings to do it. Intelligent, creative or ambitious women paid a high price for that comfortable nest - little was expected of them, and their sense of self was defined for them. Betty Halbreich's passion for fashion and style probably kept her from going bonkers in the process. Other reviewers might judge her harshly by today's parenting or partnering standards, but that's simply not fair - the social fabric was completely different then and womens' ability to imagine an alternative path was constricted by forces outside their control. The second half of her life, she built a path for herself at Bergdorf Goodman's - and while the reader might roll their eyes about some of her clients' pampered lives, her approach to building a stronger self through style is human and fascinating. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and Betty - and mmmmmm the clothes, too.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
By Courtney on 03-18-15
A lovely listen. It's very interesting to hear the point of view of someone who is so different than myself however, in some ways we are exactly the same.
Four stars for the story- at some points I felt it was repetitive but don't let that stop you from listening if the subject interests you.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful