Hat’s off to Betty!

Betty Halbreich

Personal shopper Betty Halbreich has been at Bergdorf Goodman in New York for more than three decades.(Entertainment One Films US, Entertainment One Films US / April 10, 2013)

I am in awe of this woman.  Where does she get the energy?  Amazing!
When I saw this article, I knew I would have to post it on my blog.  She is to be saluted indeed.
When I retired at 56 as a Personal Shopper at Bloomingdale’s,  I was sad to leave the thrill of the hunt, (for the perfect accessories!) But I have to say this; I was physically and thoroughly exhausted.  The job was fun, but not easy on the body. Lifting, pulling your racks of shoes, coats, running to fetch all new sizes as the client miscalculated her true size…..hmmmmm, how did that happen?
Thinking fast on your feet for many physical situations, such as severe osteoporosis, a double mastectomy, one foot smaller than another, is just one of the challenges you may get, right there on the spot.  Menopausal…..don’t even get me started!  And tough love is what many women have to have, if you want them back as clients.  You have to be truthful and honest.
My hat’s off to you Betty!   When you are ready, c’mon down to Florida for your golden years.  I will be waiting!
By Rebecca Keegan Los Angeles TimesApril 28, 2013

— Within 30 seconds in her airy, orchid-filled office three floors above Central Park, Betty Halbreich had zeroed in on one of my chief torments as a professional woman.

“I know why you have a problem with pants,” Halbreich said dryly, patting my hip.

Halbreich, an 85-year-old personal shopper at Bergdorf Goodman in New York, has dressed Joan Rivers, Meryl Streep and Candice Bergen, and helped costume designer Patricia Field adorn the women of “Sex and the City.” She’s one of the supporting characters in “Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s,” a new documentary, which opens May 3 in New York and Los Angeles, about the aspirational fashion emporium, and she is writing a memoir that HBO recently optioned for Lena Dunham to adapt.

Frank, warm and wickedly funny, Halbreich counsels powerful women at their most vulnerable moments — when they’re standing naked in the luxury department store’s mirrored rooms, trying to dress for a new career, new spouse, new body size.

For a recent hour, on a springlike Tuesday afternoon, she was dressing me.

Halbreich had pulled from the racks a soft, pastel green Theory leather jacket (marked down from $825 to $499); a flowing, navy, sequined top from Alice & Olivia ($330); a black-and-white, graphic print A-line Prada dress that was missing a price tag (“very expensive,” Halbreich said with a shrug). She tossed aside a printed green dress as “too sweet,” declared a blazer too short and dismissed my fears of horizontal stripes on a Missoni knit dress as outmoded thinking.

“Oh, dear God, come up into the new world,” Halbreich said. “First of all, this skirt moves. It covers whatever you’re trying to hide.”

When director Matthew Miele started making “Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s” in 2011, his primary interest was in the artists who designed the store’s intricate windows, which his family had come into New York City from New Jersey to see every holiday season when he was a child. As Miele, whose film was made to mark Bergdorf’s 111th anniversary last year, spent more time there, he began to identify other key characters, such as the store’s elegant vice president and principal tastemaker, Linda Fargo, and Halbreich, whose unpretentiousness has endeared her to clients and designers in a world that is often fawning.

“She was no-holds-barred candid; she came out with the funniest things,” Miele said.

Halbreich began her career in her 40s, when she was a mother of two with an unraveling marriage. She started at Bergdorf’s in 1976, running the shop’s Geoffrey Beene boutique, an era when women — even the rich ones — were changing the way they lived and the way they shopped.

“I’d see these women, they were needy,” said Halbreich, who was wearing a dark Marni blazer, sensible shoes and a whimsical wooden brooch she had bought for $2 in the Berkshires decades ago. “In my day, we didn’t work. What’s evolved is most women work … most women do something. These women are on a timetable.”

Halbreich has an uncanny ability to size up her clients’ moods in an instant and coax them through life’s difficult moments with a joke and a properly fitted dress.

“I love the baggage,” she said. “I love the stories. I have someone this afternoon, she’s the ugly stepmother of the child getting married. Which means I’m going to get a chip on the shoulder because she’s buying anything.”

Halbreich is not paid on commission by choice, and she loves to dig up bargains in a store that caters to the kind of people who can own their own islands. In a designer-obsessed industry, she is agnostic.

“I don’t pick from labels,” she said. “I pick visually. I pride myself on that.”

And she does it well. After three dresses in a row fit impeccably, Halbreich declared, “I’ve done very well on you. Maybe I’ll keep this job.”

She had brought several pairs of black pants into the fitting room for me to try as well but grabbed my arm, looked me in the eyes and said, “For the pants, go to J. Crew.”


Copyright © 2013, Los Angeles Times


The Tory Story……

sisters 1 sistersThis past week my sister Ginger came for a visit. What fun it was to spend “sister time” with her!



We shopped, went to the beach, shopped, went out for dinner, shopped, went to spin class, shopped, went to the pool,  and well……you get the picture!

Now that I am a “girl on a budget” (yeeks!) and Ginger shops, with much success at thrift stores…….I figured we could meet in the middle and check out one of the popular consignment stores here in Southwest Florida – FiFi’s.

So off we went to the Sarasota location.  It was truly a joy to shop there. FiFi herself was there with her sweet little dog, (a big black lab) in tow.  I was loaded down within minutes and grabbed one popular label after another.

Deciding on “NO BLACK” I was able to get 8 items for $120 which was my budget.  I just sold a Tory Burch belt last week on ebay,  so I was ready to get some bang for my buck!

My first hit was a soft and fabulous tank top, easy and drapey……. it looked great with the black cropped pants I was wearing.  I also intend to wear it with my white skinny Paige jeans.  Nude Dolce Vita sandals will be perfect!  Add to it my Lauren Merkin clutch and…….. Score!




Next, sweet little white embroidered “bohemian” top…..fit like a dream and looked great with my new complexion……!  Also looked great with my cropped black pants! But let’s face it…..jeans and flip flops will be the go to items for this little top.




Ok…..so what is this?  A beach dress?  Very soft like a favorite tshirt and guess what?????? Yup, it looked great with the pants!   I added a silk scarf for color and will use it with my orange purse.  Yesterday, I wore the dress as a swimsuit cover up!




OK, it looks like a purple tank right?  That’s because it is a purple tank!  I love it and the color was awesome layered over my white tank and you guessed it, my cropped pants.




OK…….well, not sure when I will wear it but it feels like butter and is a raw silk with this fabulous muted pattern and had to come with me.  I want to add my gold Lana hoops and a pair of skinny jeans with gladiators.  Oh yes!  Well, we shall see.




Can you say Brunello Cucinelli?  I can, and I scooped this up in a nanosecond! This lightweight linen and cotton sweater is a great look with white jeans and strappy sandals.  I also love it with  faded jeans and black ballet flats.   A big oversized tote bag is a perfect finish.  Now, where are we going?



This top was so comfortable and looked amazing on!  Forever 21……but who cares?  It was easy to layer and I see it with some faded Joes jeans and a white longer layer underneath.  My silver Ippolita bangles and big silver hoops.   I love it!




I bought this Lauren Merkin clutch two weeks ago at a Consignment shop here in my neighborhood.  $18 and it is the real deal!


ebay from consignment 025


That’s it for this week.  Hope you enjoyed consignment shopping with me.  To tell the truth, these items are a bit dressed up for my existing wardrobe, which includes paint clothes for my messy projects and trips to Home Depot, or my everyday wardrobe which is a pair of cargo shorts and a “life is good” tshirt.  No birkenstocks yet!

LIFE IS GOOD!   See you next week.


the perfect frame up!

My husband and I have done a lot of remodeling in this old cinder block home built in 1961.  Last year we sealed up some old windows that were left behind after my father closed up the carport and built his garage.  For whatever reason, the patch left by our contractor was never really evened out on the wall.  I always figured a bit of artwork would cover it.  Not so much……

interior and exterior 003

If you look closely you will see the big square where a window used to be.  It looks much worse when you are in front of it.  So………what to do.

One day while walking through Home Goods……(my favorite shopping experience of all things HOME)………I walked smack dab into this……..


This photo doesn’t really bring to life the shiny gold trim on this huge medallion.  The dimensions were about 50×50″…….pretty sizeable.  The Gold Trim and Green were a bit too pronounced. In fact, downright hideous.  I thought about it for about 1/2 hour as I shopped for a few other items that I needed.  There was only one,  but I knew it would still be there if I wanted it later.  I made a decision to purchase it and asked an employee to take it up front for me until I checked out.

The price was $119.00.  Upon further inspection, I noticed a dent, so I asked for a discount and got an additional 10% off (I actually liked the dent).  While checking out the employee reminded me that “today is senior day”…….

Huh?????? What are you saying? I asked “what does that mean?” and she tells me if you are over 55 that you get the discount.  Well, I finally know now why I love to be over 55……..to go to Home Goods on Mondays for “SENIOR DAY”……….Help me!!!

Anyhooooooooooo ……..after my defect discount, and my senior discount, my piece was under $100!  Woohoo!  So imagine my surprise when I carted it out to my car only to find out that there was no way in hell that piece was going in.  So now what? Back home to get my partner in crime (bungie cords in tow).  Needless to say, we drove in the right lane all the way home with my dented tin medallion floating on top, and I had no idea if I was even going to like it.   (Of course I did not share this with Mark).

I got it home, and you guessed it………hated it.  But I knew I would have to make it work as soon as Mark announced that he liked it.  So, it sat for 2 days leaning against the wall where it was to be hung.  A few days later Mark came up with the idea of framing it.  I loved that idea and off to Home Depot we went……(Mark’s favorite store also with the work Home in it).   After a lot of hammering out in his man cave, and several days later he produced the perfect frame for my art work.

I set to work on getting the gold out and toning down the green.  After a bit of whitewashing and making a mess……I liked the final look of my medallion…….



I got most of the shiny gold rubbed out and it looked a bit more like an old piece of concrete with a bit of copper shining through.   I was satisfied.

Next, I had a can of  Behr, (not beer!) Cottage White paint left over from another project, so I primed and then painted two coats on the frame that Mark built.

That night Mark did “the installation” of our project and I have to say………



ok………..that’s it for this week.  My sister Ginger came in last night and will be here for a week! Off to the beach……..where I will draw inspiration for next weeks blog!

See you then!

Oh……….cut it out!!!!!

for closet makeovers

I have been here in Southwest Florida now for almost 6 months.  What have I learned in such a short time?

1. Retirement is just a long vacation from your job.

2. There is no reason to live in the Midwest unless you have a career there.

3. Being “theclosetconsult” means nothing to retirees. Thrift stores and Wal marts are about the only games in town.

So…………..that said, I decided to do my little closet here on Mel O De Lane.              Walk in closets don’t exist here, so I get an 8’x4′ space, some dresser drawers and that is it.

Also, everything here feels “DAMP” because the humidity is a bit high.  But with that you get, naturally curly hair (whether you like it or not) and, your nails and skin look better than ever.  No dry, cracked hands. In fact, I have not used hand lotion in months.  Just sunscreen after I shower with a bit of my new favorite fragrance,

“Flower Bomb lotion”……………..love this lotion as my signature fragrance! Perfect!








Anyhoo…………I was bored this week, and my sister is coming to stay, and I wanted to have some dresser drawers for her, so I decided that I would hire “theclosetconsult.” She was FABULOUS!!!!  (if I do say so myself).

After she purged everything she ever owned in Chicago, (thanks ebay!)  she had a pile of clothes and a very organized and clean closet.

My husband says it is all about the maintenance, but I like the idea of change……..so I just change every so often.

clothes pileHere is a nice pile of clothes no longer needed for Florida.

Here is my new organized closet.  It might not be fancy, but this is Florida, and it suits me just fine.  I am going to get very used to this lifestyle.

blob april 7 004blob april 7 005








blob april 7 001blob april 7 002








See you next week!

“A-door” your workspace!

If you have ever been to Florida, you would know that storage, in general, is at a premium.  No basements, and usually just one level.

Now that I am retired, I need a place to call a “workshop.”  So I thought, why not use what my Dad used here in the 80’s?  He built all of these gorgeous pine cabinets, but the rest was a blank slate.   So, after my husband got delivery on his “handi house” no, he does not live in there,….I was able to spread out and really take over the space in the garage.  It is his very own little “man cave” and he loves it!


Here is what my workshop looked like when we first moved in…


Here is what my workshop looks like now……


So basically, I repurposed an old door that we replaced a few weeks ago and placed  it on top of the two lower cabinets.

My husband made a bracket at the left end and we drilled the door right onto the bracket and then on to the cabinets which is now my workbench.   I purchased pegboard and hooks of all sizes, put it all up, and then began creating my home away from home.

A picture of Dad, an old sign from my mom’s craft shop (Gloria), my painting she brought me back from Paris in 1987, a vintage fan I got at a Garage Sale for $3.00, my sewing machine, my music, and a variety of things I have collected along the way have been sprinkled around for inspiration.

So now, anytime I need to work on anything; from gluing something, to sanding or painting, or sewing a button on one of Mark’s shirts, or patching a hole in my jeans……..out to my workshop I go!

(3 little pony photographs by Anni Hauth)


And if I want to make a mess, I can clean it tomorrow or the day after……..who cares?


I also have room for my ironing board and iron.  Just set it up right there and it’s ready to use.  Need a beer?  Right outside in our second hand “craigslist” refrigerator we got for $180.   Need to sand a new cabinet, or paint something?  I set up the sawhorses that are right above my head and I can be working on my project in just seconds.

I am obsessed with my new workspace.  So much so that I am going to practice painting a faux carpet on my garage floor in the coming weeks,  so stayed tuned.

See the two vintage cabinets stacked on top of each other below?  I got those at my favorite Thrift shop in Englewood and plan to repurpose them in a fun new color in the very near future.

The sky is really the limit for me…….now that I have a new workshop that I



See you next Monday!!!