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Words of Wisdom From Betty Harleich

Whether speaking in person or writing in her new book “I’ll Drink to That: A Life in Style, With a Twist,” Halbreich does not mince words.

Whether speaking in person or writing in her new book “I’ll Drink to That: A Life in Style, With a Twist,” Betty Halbreich does not mince words. Here, some words of wisdom from the quotable 86-year-old:

What She’s Learned:
“In fashion, misery is often confused with style.”

“Going to the gym to work out with a trainer is not stimulating to me. Walking through seven floors each day, arms loaded with clothes, is.”

“Clothes aren’t the be-all and end-all. They can be fun; they can be beautiful; you can put them on your head backward if you want to; they feel good. I expedite all that for others. I’m a sales lady. It’s everything my mother said don’t be.”

“Seventh Avenue was exciting. We smoked, we drank, we sold clothes. We shivered when Saks Fifth Avenue came in and talked about them when they left.”

“I was a child for the longest time, but I have finally grown into a proper person. Learning how to be alone, truly alone, was the last step.”

“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.”

“You’re probably looking at one of the most satisfied people in the world. I’m really blessed, I can sit here at 86 and talk to you. I still have my teeth and the rest of me is OK.”

On Geoffrey Beene:
“He was a very quiet, secluded man — not the kind of man who would go out and have a drink or break bread with you.…Still, in his secretive way, he knew everything and everyone. I always thought he ran a spy system.”

On Lena Dunham:
“She is one of the most gracious, full of fun, intelligent, sane, intellectual people I’ve ever met.”

On Andrew Goodman:
“Mr. Goodman used to come into every night with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, asking how business was. I would be sitting here smoking and at five o’clock we were allowed to bring out wine. We really sat here and smoked ourselves into a blue haze.”

On William Ivey Long:
“I met him his first year out of Yale. He still wears the same outfit today — a navy blazer, beige poplin cotton pants and a striped shirt. He was going to start a lingerie line with Wendy Wasserstein. He could have never afforded to have it made. A nightgown would have cost $500 or $1,000.”

Other quotes:
“I have had some issues but I seem to have gotten past them. No, I don’t wish for anything. Wouldn’t you be happy at this age to just come here? I sure don’t wish for clothes, I tell you that.”

“Whether it’s a woman coming to me for clothes for a cruise or a costume designer staging a Broadway play, I politely ask the price range and happily work within it.”

“The woman on ‘Fashion Police’ is not what one gets in real life. Sensitive and still remembering her past, Joan is generous to a fault.”

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