What to Buy to Look Like: A Dallas Socialite

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The socialites on Dallas. Photo: Anonymous/AP

Status can be a funny thing. Of course its most obvious iteration comes with shiny hardware and easily recognizable logos, but it gets far more interesting as you narrow it down to the more opaque signals — when the way you tuck your shirt, or what you eat for breakfast, or your particular brand of notebook can mark you as in or out. And of course, what counts as a status item varies wildly across human tribes. In our series, Insider Goods, we’re talking to tribe members (some with their real names, some anonymously) to find out the status items among art-gallery assistants, or Broadway actors, or architects. This time we’re taking a look into the world of Dallas socialites with Kimberly Schlegel Whitman. She’s an editor-at-large of Southern Living and an entertaining expert who also organizes Dallas’s social calendar.

“Good bedding is always a big deal here. We all take a lot of pride in our homes and a beautiful, well-appointed home is something that has a lot of value. The luxury-bedding brand Peacock Alley is based here, and everyone has that bedding. They do a lot of really luxurious, light linens that are just simple, elegant, refined bedding. Of course, it’s always better if it’s monogrammed.”

“Because getting things monogrammed is very important, a lot of people have their own monogrammers that they go to. There’s a really charming shop called the Loveliest that does incredible monograms. It’s owned by two sisters and their mother, and it’s just different. It’s really beautiful. They just have more unique font options.”

“In the NorthPark Center shopping mall, there’s a big luxury wing that’s filled with designer stores. The Neiman Marcus is there, and that’s like an institution in Dallas. People have their shopper at Neiman who helps them find their gowns or whatever they need for any party coming up. As for designers, Gucci is certainly having a moment. Gucci bags are a thing right now. The ones with all the appliqué, that’s the bag to have. The thing I like about that bag is that I know it is trendy, but I feel like there’s something in that line for every age group from the 19-year-old SMU girls to the matriarchs of the Dallas scene. There’s something in there for everyone. That’s one of the interesting things about the culture here, all age groups mix very well and are friends with each other.”

“A staple is an iced tea. All my friends walk around with iced teas all the time. I like to get mine at the Mermaid Bar, which is in the Neiman Marcus in NorthPark. I feel like I carry it around all day long. It’s a constant. Always a black iced tea, and it’s a real tea, not sweetened.”

“People in Dallas elevate everyday get-togethers. It doesn’t matter if guests are coming over to swim or if they’re having a big, grand dinner party, people put a lot of effort into their entertaining. Punch bowls are one of the things that people here still use. Sometimes, it’ll be their grandmother’s or they’ll get their own from Juliska or Pickard, but it’s just one of those things that everyone has all the tools they need for entertaining. People keep their grandmother’s treasures out on display and they use them. The punch depends on the season, but a citrus punch is typical. Sometimes, it’s a heavily guarded secret, like it’s your grandmother’s or your mother’s recipe; and sometimes, it’s a really simple concoction made up of whatever you have in your refrigerator. Pickard makes a monogrammed — again, monogrammed — punch bowl that’s so beautiful.”

“There’s a beautiful stationery company here called Bell’Invito that is owned, founded, operated, and designed by a Dallas girl. Having great stationery to send a thank-you note to a hostess or to use for invitations is certainly a staple of a Dallas hostess.”

“One of the most obvious things to me is that everyone needs to have a beautiful set of monogrammed cocktail napkins that you can whip out anytime someone comes over, whether that guest is expected or unexpected. You always have to be ready. It’s a very personalized, polished touch. Instead of waiting until you’re about to have a party, people here have those things almost like they would have a wardrobe or something like that. They’re ready with the tools they would need to entertain. My line is called Halo Home by KSW. I once did a trunk show in L.A. and every single lady ordered gray. Here, color is one of those things that people don’t shy away from, whether it’s a sparkly gold or a hot pink. Everyone has a signature color.”

“Everyone here is always ready for a party. There are a lot of nonprofit functions and fundraisers that happen, and it’s certainly an important part of our culture and our society, so people here are always ready for a black-tie event with stones and jewels. Richard Eiseman comes to mind as a place that people go to for fabulous diamonds and things like that. That’s someone who’s very established here.”

“There is an amazing art and philanthropy event called Two x Two every October for about five days, with all kinds of events and an auction that attracts art collectors and collections from around the world. It’s a very coveted ticket, and it sells out very fast. Everyone wants to go.”

“Everyone has a painted portrait of their children. I feel like that’s one of those things that’s still treasured and appreciated here. Whomever’s house you go in, there are beautiful painted pictures of their children or of themselves as children, and they’re on full display in people’s homes in the living room, above the mantel, somewhere important. People use this amazing artist named Stella Ehrich.”

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What to Buy to Look Like: A Dallas Socialite