My client gifted me a book recently, adding to my library of fashion related titles.
This one, I’ll Drink to That: A Life in Style, with a Twist by Betty Halbreich with Rebecca Paley was a fun read. I don’t think it’s titled too well, but there is a lot of drinking in this book!
Mainly it’s fun to hear from people who do what you do. I found myself nodding my head in agreement over many things Betty said. I think a lot of times we read non-fiction books to hear our own thoughts spoken out loud.
Betty’s memoir covers her life growing up in Chicago, finding her life’s calling after her kids grew up, and coming home to her personal shopping office in Bergdorf Goodman NYC for forty years. Still working at the age of eighty-six, she hates being called a legend but she certainly qualifies for that title, especially by anyone in the styling or wardrobe consulting business. I bet we’d all raise a toast to someone who’s had a career of forty years, doing something you love. You might have also enjoyed her book, Secrets of a Fashion Therapist, published in 2000.
When I agree with someone on something I’m not inclined to say, “I’ll drink to that.” But I will say to myself, “I can say ‘yes’ to that.” So here are a few things I said yes to.
“The actual act of finding what one is looking for is the part of shopping that proves so difficult for people. Stores make it their business to be confusing. Shuffling merchandise in devious ways, they want customers to go around in circles and to create the impression that there is new merchandise every month when really it’s the same old stuff.” Oh yes to that! I’m often in the same store a few times a week and things move around all the time!
“This job is not about clothes; it’s about people.” SO TRUE! In order to dress someone you need to understand them first. And that’s such a fun part of the job!
“I always blame the dress rather than the person. Never ‘That looks awful on you.’ Rather, ‘The dress is awful.'” Yes, yes, yes! I always say, “It’s not the fault of your body, it’s the fault of the dress.” Or, “What was this designer thinking?” Because, honestly, they get it wrong and that’s often why you see lots of clothes on those sales rounders at the end of the season. Something was just not right about them in the first place. Women are so fraught with body blame. I do everything I can to halt that bad habit. It’s the garment’s fault, not theirs.
“In my day one boarded an airplane in a suit, gloves, and a hat. However, last time I went to the airport, I mistook it for a fitness center.” I can say yes to that! Can you? When I started flying, it was special event, although I don’t remember wearing gloves and hats back in 1970 when I boarded a plane in Fargo, North Dakota and headed for San Diego, California. Still, today I always fly in a well-thought out outfit, one I’d feel proud to say to seat partners, “I’m Brenda Kinsel and I help women face life in their best outfits every single day.” Not that I talk to seat partners very often unless I’m related to them! However the last time I flew, someone walking down the aisle stopped at my seat and said, “Brenda Kinsel?” I looked up and it was a someone I had done a shopping trip with on one of my book tours, probably ten years ago or more. We’re Facebook friends, too. I was so happy to be wearing that just right outfit in person!
“I think nothing of pairing pants and a sweater from the fifth floor with a thousand-dollar jacket from the second. I simply go where my eye takes me. However, I often need to hide the price tag from my clients so they don’t prejudge the garment. People who can afford expensive clothes naturally prefer them.” I was shopping for dresses with a client of mine. I found her a beautiful Roberto Cavalli dress. I don’t remember the price but it was near a thousand dollars, maybe more, maybe less. It was gorgeous on her and she loves gorgeous things. On the same shopping trip I also spotted another great halter dress a good distance away from the designer section. I wouldn’t let her see the price tag because exactly as Betty says, I didn’t want her to prejudge it. It had started at $111 and but was marked down to double digits. It’s a funny position to be in to find yourself hard selling a dress when the low price tag is the only thing that could be going against it. Some people are so label conscious and expect that only the designer label items will supply the quality they value. She bought them both. If she could only choose one, she’d have probably chosen the Roberto Cavalli but the one she has worn the most is the inexpensive one. It happens! Good style doesn’t always have to be expensive!
“…for me dressing someone well is as divine as helping someone to walk, to see, to smile, or to bake a tall, light angel food cake.” Betty says she’ll drink to that. You know what? I’d drink to that, too! Anyone want to join me?
And to find out what I disagree with Betty about, well, tune in tomorrow!