Courtesy of The Penguin Press.
Courtesy of The Penguin Press.

Nearly four decades after founding Bergdorf Goodman’s personal-shopping service, sterling-haired, silver-tongued Betty Halbreich is still celebrated for her matchless taste (Babe Paley asked her for advice) and wry judgment (“It’s awful,” Halbreich is not afraid to tell a client about an outfit). Those enduring qualities find full expression in I’ll Drink to That: A Life in Style, With a Twist ** (out September 8 from the Penguin Press), Halbreich’s memoir and the inspiration for a forthcoming HBO series written by Lena Dunham. As a lavishly attired Park Avenue wife, Halbreich reflects, she was rewarded for her beauty but felt deeply unfulfilled, and she attempted suicide before checking herself in to a psychiatric clinic. (She recalls fellow patients complimenting her style.) Forced to acknowledge that she’d been trying to shop away her sorrow—“the displacement of love, affection, and attention onto a pair of shoes or a dress has built an entire industry”—she sought to work with the designers whose labels she wore. Ultimately, she landed her plum gig at Bergdorf’s, where her astute eye, honed by life experience, allowed her to use fashion to help women discover what truly ailed them. With humor and grace, Halbreich has given three generations of clients, among them Estée Lauder and Sarah Jessica Parker, the perfect wardrobe—and so much more