“The clothes I work with as a personal shopper (a title I have never particularly favored) are an extravagance unto themselves — the price tags on many are often too rich for my midwestern sensibilities. Yet the true luxury of what I do is the knowledge my client has as I slip a sweater over her shoulders or zip a dress up the back that I was thinking only of her when I selected the garment.” ~ Betty Halbreich, from her memoir I’ll Drink to That
This is how Betty Halbreich’s book, I’ll Drink to That, begins. I first learned about Ms. Halbreich last year, as I watched the glamorous documentary, “Scatter my Ashes at Bergdorf’s.” Thirty-seven years ago, Ms. Halbreich became the very first personal shopper for Manhattan’s Bergdorf Goodman, considered by many in the fashion industry to be the premiere luxury store. And Ms. Halbreich breaks all the molds by being the best at what she does; using her vast knowledge and experience, sense of humor, and an honesty and truthfulness unmatched. Most of all, Ms. Halbreich listens and cares. Women, the celebrities and the well-heeled among them, represent Ms. Halbreich’s clients. They have been clients for years, even generations, and trust her implicitly.
But, as I begin reading the book, I discover the story of this remarkable 86 year-old woman. As a young girl growing up in the 1930s on Chicago’s South Side, she found magic in her mother’s closet, where the “clothes were my playmates.” I see that Ms. Halbreich’s story goes far beyond the doors of Bergdorf Goodman. Hers is a human story, with joy and grief and heartache. But mostly, a story about resilience and heart. Ms. Halbreich has that in spades. And I can’t wait to read on. I’m buying it. Well, I already did!