An easy read, this autobiographical book left me feeling sad for Betty. Betty has lived a self-absorbed life that seems so insular and exclusive, compAn easy read, this autobiographical book left me feeling sad for Betty. Betty has lived a self-absorbed life that seems so insular and exclusive, compared to 90% of people in the US. I imagine that the obscene amount of money people have spent shopping through Betty on clothes could have been used for much better purposes. A personal buyer through Bergdorf Goodman for the upper crust of society for the last 35+ years, Betty has parlayed her love of clothes and her personal perspective on what being well-dressed means into a career, becoming the choice of many men and women to help them be well-dressed. I appreciate the value of finding and wearing well-fitting clothes, which I agree with Betty is hard to do for most people. So often when I shop for clothes, I wonder who the clothes manufacturers use as the models, as clothes are too big, too small, too loose, too tight....you name it. I love when I find a brand that actually fits me, a uncommon occurence. For example, Betty shares how designers have made the arms on clothes so tight that many of her clients can't wear the clothes. I have definitely found that to be true for me. I wish this book had pictures to go along with some of her descriptions. Betty laments that we've become too casual in our dress. Part of me agrees but part of me is glad society has loosened up.
Betty was an only child of parents who doted on her but were self-absorbed. There never seemed to be a time in her life where she was truly content and happy. She had so much and seemed so unhappy. She married but it wasn't a happy marriage, and she filled the emotional void with shopping and buying. After the marriage fell apart, she began working in a series of fashion retail jobs, taking her own fashion sense and honing her ability to help clients find the perfect outfit. She landed the job at BG and became an institution there, gaining confidence in her own sense of fashion, style and dress. It is remarkable that she is still working there, even though she is in her 80s. Most companies force you to retire at 65, so good for Betty and BG in letting her continue to work. She met Jim and spent 29 years with him, splitting her time between her job/life in NY and weekends with Jim in the country. He came from "beneath her station", but I liked him because he sounded normal. Jim was good for Betty, teaching her many of the lifeskills most of us learn growing up. I think she became more content with herself in her later life and I'm glad she found Jim, someone who loved her without requiring much in return.
I feel if I were to meet Betty, I think I would be intimidated by her, assuming she was judging me by how I dress. I could never afford Betty, yet I would like to meet someone like Betty, who has a sense of fashion and could help those of us in the middle classes wisely buy clothes that fit us, without being judgmental.
The writing itself was straightforward. It felt melancholy and arrogant all at the same time. I kept waiting for Betty to find real contentment. Maybe she did, but it didn't seem like it in the writing. While she served her clients and talked about what she did for them, somehow I felt she was self-righteously judging people by what they wear. I read this for my book club and it provided good discussion. ...more
I wanted to like this book. It started out well, drawing me into the storyline, creating intrigue. The author's writing style was beautiful, creatingI wanted to like this book. It started out well, drawing me into the storyline, creating intrigue. The author's writing style was beautiful, creating wonderful word pictures for me. The author has a wonderful ability to take phrases and make them stick with you. But somewhere about one third of the way into the book, I started losing interest. I quickly figured out where the story was heading. True love wins out. Mi Mi and Tin Win's life in Burma was beautifully conveyed and I enjoyed reading about their time together. I knew a catalyst would come that would separate them and it did. U Saw was predictable and U Ba, also. Julia would ponder how well did she really know her father over and over. I never got to know Julia as she seemed merely a means of telling Mi Mi and Tin Win's story. I read this for my book club and it will be interesting to see if they give it a two thumbs up. I give it one thumbs up for the beautiful writing style, but it won't make my list of top books read in 2015...more