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I'll Drink to That: A Life in Style, with a Twist [Kindle Edition]

Betty Halbreich , Rebecca Paley
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (182 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $27.95
Kindle Price: $11.99
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Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

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 forty 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 twenty after marrying the dashing Sonny Halbreich, a true character right out of Damon Runyon who liked the nightlife of New York in the fifties. 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 hit rock bottom.

After she began the frightening process of reclaiming herself and started therapy, Halbreich was offered a lifeline in the form of a job at the legendary luxury store Bergdorf Goodman. Soon, she was asked to run the store’s first personal shopping service. It was a perfect fit.

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.

Editorial Reviews Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, September 2014: Perhaps your first reaction to the opening pages of Betty Halbreich’s I’ll Drink to That: Life in Style, with A Twist, will be something like mine: I want this woman who practically invented personal shopping 40-plus years ago to come to my house, analyze my closet – and retool my wardrobe, and, thus, my life. And that would be great – but you can learn almost as much about style (and sanity) by reading on in this opinionated, glamorous, and yet somehow likable woman’s memoir of a life that might bear absolutely no resemblance to yours. The daughter of well-to-do German Jewish parents in 1930s Chicago, Halbreich grew up pampered, for sure, but she was also lonely and desperate for approval, from her fashion-plate mother (in whose closet the young Betty played, amid bottles of Joy perfume), her glamorous father, and ultimately a way-too- charming husband who put me in mind of Nicky Arnstein, the husband of Fanny Brice played so memorably in Funny Girl by Omar Sharif. Two decades of matrimony in New York, a couple of children and who knows how many betrayals on both sides later, Halbreich finally managed to leave her marriage, suffer the requisite nervous breakdown (complete with requisite stay in fancy mental ward) – and emerge to reinvent herself as the ultimate working woman, first as a kind of stylist for such legendary designers as Geoffrey Beene and finally at Bergdorf. To say this is an Everywoman story is pushing it; in fact, the pitch perfect idioms and cultural references channeled, presumably, by co-author Rebecca Paley, make it absolutely particular to Halbreich’s era and station. But that’s the point, and the fun: let Halbreich take you back to a time when women wore brooches, men donned hats and everybody had a guiltless cocktail before dinner. – Sara Nelson


Praise for I'll Drink to That:
“Lena Dunham, creator of HBO’s Girls, is now developing a series inspired by Ms. Halbreich’s life. The impatient, however, can satisfy their curiosity more immediately with I’ll Drink to That, the long-anticipated memoir in which Ms. Halbreich chronicles her life in the dressing room and beyond.” The Wall Street Journal

“Charming… An inspirational feminist tale.” People Magazine

“Tart, funny.” Entertainment Weekly

“Sartorial style becomes a philosophy of life in this spirited memoir…Halbreich comes across as sage and gracious as she narrates a life full of incident, taking us inside the fashion industry and one of its great institutions.” Publishers Weekly

“Every woman has a piece of clothing that she can’t live without, because in it, she feels most like herself. Betty’s memoir has that effect on a reader. Authentic style is a form of self-knowledge. And in that respect, I’ll Drink To That is like Betty's famous three-way mirror. She sizes up her own life fearlessly, and in the process, not only helps you to diagnose your own flaws, but to embrace your own beauty." —Judith Thurman, author of National Book Award-winning Isak Dinesen: The Life of a Storyteller and Los Angeles Times Book Award-winning Secrets of the Flesh: A Life of Colette

Praise for Betty Halbreich:
"Betty was born to sail through people's lives telling them what to wear (and even what to do). The other day I overheard her chatting with a client, 'Oh, she's been my friend for thirty-five years, and she's only thirty.' Lines like that are good enough for George Cukor. The whole scanrio is. Maybe she's known that all these years. Fashion is not only about necessity but also a form of entertainment—and that is what Betty sells." —Isaac Mizrahi, fashion designer

"I would trust this woman with my life—closet!" —Joan Rivers, television personality

"...she's the go-to celebrity. She's also the most fun." —Patricia Field, costume designer for Sex & the City

"There's a pragmatic principle behind the way Betty dresses people. It's very inclusive. There's room for everyone in her process. [Betty] is able to be in the fashion world, but also take it down a peg at the same time." —Lena Dunham, writer and actress

"The fashion doctor is in....Even as designers and editors seem to be conspiring to lure women into their latest whims, Betty Halbreich is a scrupulously practical truth-teller. She considers it her job to protect women from clothes that are wrong for them. She takes pride in pushing the least expensive items she can find, when it’s appropriate...A brassy Chicago native with a manner that’s part Angela Lansbury and part Lucille Ball, Halbreich believes in taking chances with color and accessorizing lavishly." —Bob Morris, New York magazine

Product Details

  • File Size: 1836 KB
  • Print Length: 305 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1594205701
  • Publisher: The Penguin Press (September 4, 2014)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,608 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
88 of 92 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Bergdorf Goodman. Xanadu. Candy Land..... September 1, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Because I've been pushing my comfort zone when it comes to reading material, I decided to go far afield and tackle this book. I thought there was a good chance I'd feel indifferent towards it - or possibly even loathe it. Instead, I found it entertaining and I write that as someone who has no inclination to buy designer clothing, shop at Bergdorf Goodman or learn about working with celebrities, all of which are covered in this book. But those topics are only part of what is contained inside.

While I may not be inherently riveted by books about fashion or celebrities, I AM drawn to memoirs which focus on the unique personalities and talents of men and women who have created a special place for themselves in the world. And Betty Halbreich has certainly accomplished that feat. At 86, she is still a personal shopper for Bergdorf Goodman, a job she created for herself 40 years ago. She describes that part of her life in detail and yes, she also dishes about celebrities and reveals some of their quirks and insecurities.

But she also spends a fair amount of time remembering her childhood, a very lonely childhood. This was the part of her memoir which pulled at my heartstrings and set the stage for everything else. The rest of the book fell into place after she described so poignantly how "clothes were my playmates." I ached for her when I read of the parents who were rarely there and even of Christmas holidays where she opened a wealth of presents - but all by herself.

That was when I understood why she was drawn to a career in fashion, not as some trivial pursuit, but as a way to create a deeper meaning for both herself and other women. Clothes were her comfort.
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69 of 73 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Having little interest in fashion, I'm not sure why I chose this book to read. I guess because Betty Halbreich is being described as a "tough broad". "Tough broads" can be very interesting people. Only, Ms. Halbreich doesn't come across that tough in this memoir. She actually seems pretty vulnerable. She also doesn't come across that amusing, as she has so often been described by others, and as she appears in the documentary Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorfs. But that doesn't mean I'll Drink to That: A Life in Style, with a Twist is not an interesting read. It is and it's one of the most unique memoirs I have read in the last few years.

One reason being that the 86-year-old Ms. Halbreich is old enough to see her life in a much clearer light than most much younger memoir writers. A second reason is she does not come across at all like a shallow snob, or someone who thinks the world begins and ends with extremely expensive clothes. A third reason is she sees herself as also being a therapist of sorts, not just a personal shopper. There are indeed some intriguing insights in the books, such as when she states: "The lust for clothes is a brilliant defense mechanism (particularly if you are a person of means). The displacement of love, affection, and attention onto a pair of shoes or a dress has built an entire industry. Like all good defenses, however, they are best used in moderation and only when one understands a little of the motivations that lurk beneath the surface."

And like all good therapists and personal shoppers, Ms.
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I'll Drink to That is a memoir by Betty Halbreich who after created and then ran personal shopping at Bergdorf Goodman. The book starts out with Betty's affluent, coddled, but lonely childhood. Her parents were often too busy for her, but always made sure Betty had fine food and beautiful clothes. Shortly after the end of WWII, Betty is swept away by a handsome, fast talking and fun living New Yorker. Caught up in the after war frenzy of fashion and partying, Betty constructs a luxurious and proper home and lifestyle.

As her children grow up, Betty becomes frustrated with her lack of purpose and empty marriage, and after asking her husband to move out, has a nervous breakdown. Fighting to save herself, she falls into jobs in her comfort zone of helping women to dress well. Not one for cash registers or actual selling, Betty proposes the concept of personal shopping at Bergdorf Goodman, starting a 40+ year career helping all types of women find the clothes to help them look their best. But often, Betty is more than a shopper, helping women build their confidence, display their inner strengths via their clothing, and offering advice of all types.

I enjoyed I'll Drink to That the most when Betty wrote about the fashion extravagances after the war, and the time earlier in her career when women's clothing was distinctly different by designer, and of high quality, and not the mass produced trash offered to most of us today. If you enjoy fashion, or books about retail stores, you'll find much to interest you in I'll Drink to That.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars a fun read!
So interesting! Her early life alone is worth the read. And what fun to peek into her work and what it involves. She's had quite a life. Kudos.
Published 6 days ago by Techgal
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very Good!!!
Published 6 days ago by Jesus Rodriguez Sierra
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent fashion book even if you don't give a fig for fashion
I've read two of Halbreich's books and love both, even though fashion isn't an obsession with me. Betty is an interesting character and though I hate shopping I liked following... Read more
Published 6 days ago by Johnine
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed the book
Enjoyed the book, and especially LOVED Jane Curtain as the narrator. I went back and forth between my kindle and audible--and found that I just thoroughly loved Jane reading. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Nancy S. Mckay
4.0 out of 5 stars A Honest Encounter
I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir. Betty is honest and real. Sharing with us the good, the gracious, the bad, the ugly, and the truth. Read more
Published 14 days ago by Jo Halse
3.0 out of 5 stars I was disappointed with the book
I was disappointed with the book. I had hoped I'd hear more about Ms. Halbreich's job than I did about her dysfunctional life.
Published 15 days ago by Sheila Bridenstine
4.0 out of 5 stars How horrible to grow up in the 50s vs 70s
Actually what I expected. How horrible to grow up in the 50s vs 70s, 80s, etc.
Published 16 days ago by Cher P. Cox
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved It!
I've always been fascinated by Betty Halbreich since reading her first book. Her story is real and her personality comes through in this book. I would love to meet her some day.
Published 17 days ago by Patricia
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I eI
Published 21 days ago by Madi
4.0 out of 5 stars Very different type of book for me.
Not. my typical read at all but enjoyable. What an interesting life and a unique point of view! Might have been edited a bit more tightly.
Published 22 days ago by SEP
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