Beckerman, Ilene 1935-

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Beckerman, Ilene 1935-

PERSONAL: Born June 15, 1935, in New York, NY; married and divorced twice; children: Isabelle Beckerman Edelman, Lillie Beckerman Bryen, Michael, Joseph, Julie. Education: Simmons College, graduated.

ADDRESSES: Home—Hampton, NJ.

CAREER: MDB & A (advertising agency), Bernardsville, NJ, past vice president; currently retired. Author and illustrator; public speaker. After college held various jobs at Harvard University.


(And illustrator) Love, Loss, and What I Wore (memoir), Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC), 1995.

(And illustrator) What We Do for Love, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC), 1997.

(And illustrator) Mother of the Bride: The Dream, the Reality, the Search for a Perfect Dress, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC), 2000.

Makeovers at the Beauty Counter of Happiness, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC), 2005.

Contributor to periodicals, including Los Angeles Times, Victoria, and New York Times.

SIDELIGHTS: Ilene Beckerman began a second career as a writer when she was sixty. The former advertising agency executive has since written several books that are based on her personal experiences. Her treatment of events, including the most painful and difficult of times, includes a strong dose of humor. Two of the books, Love, Loss, and What I Wore and Mother of the Bride: The Dream, the Reality, the Search for a Perfect Dress, focus on the role that clothes, and their selection, have played in her life. Characteristically, she joked with Sylvia Slaughter in the Olympian, “I might feel like Grandma Moses—she didn’t start until she was ancient either—but I try not to look like her.” In a more serious vein, Beckerman once told CA: “Other than touching, writing is the most intimate way of relating to another person.”

Beckerman’s first book was the memoir Love, Loss, and What I Wore. Written for family reading, she did not originally expect to publish the book that details memories from the 1950s and 1960s and their links to different outfits. The book was published in 1995 and was translated into German, Japanese, Portuguese, and French.

The author used a similarly lighthearted approach in What We Do for Love. In part, the book examines the familiar experiences of courtship: the first infatuation, love letters, breakups and makeups, and marriage vows. It also, however, reveals the darker chapters in Beckerman’s life, including the often disappointing, unsavory experiences she has had with boyfriends and husbands. After two marriages—the first to an older professor, the second to an advertising executive—ended, Beckerman finally finds true love late in life.

Commenting on the connection between What We Do for Love and Love, Loss, and What I Wore, Alexandra Jacobs wrote in Entertainment Weekly that in the later book Beckerman has produced a “wry, rueful catalog of the very paramours those rags helped her land.”Jacobs commented that the light tone is made possible by the book’s happy ending. A Publishers Weekly reviewer found that Beckerman continues to make use of her “keen observational skills,” but that in her second book, “she probes deeper, laying bare the details of the series of relationships she has had with men over the years. Humor works as a disarming foil.”

In Mother of the Bride Beckerman jokes about the rigors of preparing for a daughter’s wedding, an experience she faced three times. Beckerman’s daughter wants a big, traditional wedding in which every detail is important. To escape some of this nightmare, Beckerman hires a wedding consultant, but she is still on call for shopping trips to buy a wedding dress. The author advises mothers that their dress will not really be noticed and asserts that it doesn’t really matter if everything is perfect. Serious notes include Beckerman remembering the absence of her own mother, who died when she was young, when buying her own wedding dress off the rack. And the book’s humor does not hide the author’s fear that she is losing her daughter.

In the Olympian, Beckerman said that she had “spent sleepless nights just trying to decide whether we should use brown or blue ink on the invitations.” Slaughter noted that the author was “only half kidding, one of the trademarks” of her writing. In Publishers Weekly, a reviewer found that “With an enticing mix of wry sophistication and loving naïveté, Beckerman succinctly expresses motherhood’s enduring push-and-pull …. [She] breathes fresh vitality into this familiar rite of passage.”

In addition to writing, Beckerman also appears as a public speaker. Her program invites the audience to share their clothes-related memories and to bring the clothes themselves as illustration.

Beckerman later added: “Insecurity, self-esteem, dieting, fashion, friendships, jealousy, and admiration are running themes” in my work.



Entertainment Weekly, February 13, 1998, Alexandra Jacobs, review of What We Do for Love, p. 66.

Olympian, July 30, 2000, Sylvia Slaughter, “Mother of Three Passes on Humor of Weddings.”

Publishers Weekly, December 7, 1998, review of sound recording of What We Do for Love, p. 28; March 27, 2000, review of Mother of the Bride: The Dream, the Reality, the Search for a Perfect Dress, p. 66.


Ilene Beckerman Home Page, (April 1, 2008).

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Beckerman, Ilene 1935-

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