TODAY

TODAY   |  August 21, 2013

Bergdorf personal shopper is a star at 85

At Bergdorf Goodman, one of New York’s most iconic fashion stores, 85-year-old personal shopper Betty Halbreich has shopped for celebrities like Meryl Streep and Cher. Now she is working on a new show with “Girls” creator Lena Dunham. TODAY’s Natalie Morales reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> up 5th avenue that we watch from our studio and you'll find the legendary department store . it's inside that legendary department store that there's a legendary presence that natalie caught up with.

>> her name is betty holbright and made a career as a personal shopper , choosing the right clothes for many women that seek out the very best in fashion. bergdorf goodman on new york's 5th avenue . patrons don't flinch at the prices and where on the third floor, the store's legendary personal shopper betty halbreich is on call.

>> my job is taking care of people. i have been called a clothes therapist.

>> reporter: part psycho analyst, part confidant, but total fashionista. she walks the stores six floors, rumbling as she calls it, through the racks to see what catches her eye.

>> what is it about style, though? a woman can pick a beautiful piece of clothing and put it on, if she is not wearing it well, how do you tell?

>> that's the one thing i do pride myself on is knowing what size you are the minute you walk in. it's like a man sizing up a beautiful woman. it's very similar.

>> reporter: betty 's advice earned her trust from a long list of clients, meryl streep , cher and sarah jessica parker . she is a woman who does not read fashion magazines or have a favorite designer. a woman who has never worn jeans and believes classics still work best.

>> i believe in longevity in dressing. i like to treat clothes like paintings sometimes. as they grow older sometimes they grow better. my dress is 20 years old today.

>> it's a classic.

>> i don't know if it's a classic but it was black and white and i dug it up and i said do you have the nerve to wear this betty ? okay.

>> reporter: born with fashion in her blood, betty 's father ran department stores in chicago with a trend setting mother, young betty developed a discern discerning eye.

>> i would never wear what everybody else wore in school. i turned my sweaters backwards. i walked a different line.

>> reporter: by 20, married, her dreams of being a painter were sidelined. by 49 with her two children grown and her marriage over, betty needed a job. her first one ever was at bergdorf goodman .

>> i realized i could be something to people, to myself and it saved my life.

>> reporter: today despite her in demand status she doesn't work on commission and there's no time limit or minimum sale for her expertise.

>> she is wonderful for you.

>> reporter: what does it take to become a client of yours?

>> nothing at all. there isn't anyone i ever turned town. why should i.

>> reporter: for the person that can't afford those prices, what's your best fashion advice?

>> it's taste, isn't it? you can go into a h&m, i think it's incredible. those people are good shoppers.

>> i love shopping.

>> reporter: with that it was my turn for a fashion make over.

>> that's beautiful.

>> pretty.

>> reporter: back in betty 's office she told us she is penning her memories, writing her tales of seeing fashion seasons come and go.

>> i think i'm more satisfied at 85 1/2 than at 45 1/2.

>> as you can see she is such a character. she has a great story to tell. she is writing her memories and teaming up with lena dunham from the hit show girls and is creating a documentary called scatter my ashes at bergdorfs.

>> you're like what am going to wear.

>> i was. i was nervous i wouldn't pass the test.

>> she looks like she isn't close to slowing down.

>> no, at 85 she is sharper than a tack.