Betty of Bergdorf's

Betty of Bergdorf's

Photo by Paul Gelsobello

Betty Halbreich is the undisputed doyenne of New York’s personal shoppers. Some say she invented the job. For 38 of her 86 years, she has been with Bergdorf Goodman, where every day is a challenge. “I’m dealing with women, aren’t I?” she told us in her endearingly no-nonsense voice—the same voice that makes her new memoir, I’ll Drink to That (Penguin Press, 2014), this season’s must-read. In the book, she writes that helping President Ford and his wife, Betty, was one of her best times at the store. But not everyone has to be on the A-list to win Halbreich's affection. "I love doing layettes for grandmothers to give," she says. "I used to fold, wrap, ribbon and fill bassinets—and most of those babies are my brides now! Seeing the babies being fitted for and in their bridal gowns is special. Taking care of 13 year olds in their first dance dresses is a thrill!!" But what about Bergdorf's itself? The legendary Fifth Avenue emporium can be a bit daunting for first-time visitors. But it needn't be, if you take Halbreich's advice: “Don’t be intimidated by the largeness of the store,” she explains to all clients she meets. “Ask questions. The store's staff is knowledgeable about all the merchandise. We have a very fine customer services department, too. We also have many salespeople who speak many languages, which can help customers feel more comfortable while shopping. And do not feel compelled to buy. This is your shopping experience, and it should be a FUN experience.”

» Bergdorf Goodman, 754 Fifth Ave., btw 57th & 58th sts., 212.753.7300