Clothes represent who we are or want to be. Bergdorf Goodman’s legendary personal shopper, Betty Halbreich, at age 86, tells us her story in the delightful, complex and engaging memoir: I’ll Drink to That: a Life In Style, with a Twist. Clothes take center stage here but it’s not a laundry list of designers or “how-to-s”. Instead Betty weaves her life story with its connection to clothes, style and design. Betty describes her career at Bergdorf Goodman that spans more than four decades and includes her creating what the position would be, setting boundaries, explaining how she works, and telling us about her clients. Her career, and her life, is a story of determination and self-actualization. Betty bears all including her lonely childhood where her mother’s closet full of clothes were her first playmates, her difficult marriage and in-laws, her nervous breakdown, and her triumphant and glamourous career. Betty both loses and finds herself in clothes, and perhaps don’t we all? Funny, witty, and engrossing, this book is much more than you might think. I enjoyed this book thoroughly and, just like all her clients, was sad to see my time with Betty end when I finished the last page.
Ann Marie is the Library Director for the Oliver Wolcott Library.