After nearly forty years as a personal shopper at Bergdorf Goodman, eighty-six year old Betty decided to share her life with us, and I am glad she did. When I'll Drink to That was recommended to me, I quietly rolled my eyes. I was sure that I would be utterly bored reading about some snooty woman, shopping for other snooty women. I was wrong.
Betty's charm ran through this story of a woman thoroughly enjoying her time at work.
The first chapter made me want to go to my local Saks or Nieman Marcus, and find a lovely grey haired lady to transform me with several perfect outfits. Unfortunately, I remembered that I would have to pay for these outfits, so I decided to read a few more chapters instead.
In the next few chapters she shared her growing up years, which I found both horrifying and fascinating. Her relationship with Sonny Halbreich started when she was still a teenager, and the courtship and marriage felt wrong to me. Betty shares her thoughts through the marriage and its demise, and I couldn't help but feel badly for this woman who seemed to be reaching for affection throughout her younger years and never really finding it.
Of course the meat of the book introduces us to fashion and those who love it. She worked for well-known designers, and dressed the famous and the not-so-famous, always making her clients feel special and beautiful. She shares little stories about these clients but never divulges too much. I liked reading about the time, perhaps my mother's era or grandmother's era, when women wore furs and broaches and carried hankies. Of course the thought of owning any of those things myself causes me to shudder, but it was I time when fashion ruled and women loved it.
There were some parts of the book that dragged a bit for me, but for the most part I enjoyed being a part of her world and encourage you to join her in this well written memoir.
Publisher - Penguin Books
Date of Publication - September 4, 2014