Monday, January 30, 2023 Jan 30, 2023
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The Ultimate Social Climber’s Shopping Guide

What’s the best way to win friends and influence people? To buy them expensive presents, of course. Our writer outlines her plan to spend her way to the top of Dallas’ social pecking order.
By Laura Kostelny |

Another year, another few burned bridges. I think I’ve finally identified the problem. Befriending people who are consumed by the grave challenges that living in Dallas presents—moving into the right neighborhood, getting the kids into the best school, joining the most exclusive country club—isn’t working for me. Turns out, I’m a needy friend who requires unwavering attention. So in the spirit of Christmas, I’m making a change. I’m turning the other cheek and, in doing so, turning my back on the almost fortunate. This year, I’m all about becoming best friends with Dallas’ rich and famous the only way I know how: through gift giving. If all goes well this holiday season, by New Year’s I should have climbed my way up to the very top rung of the Dallas social scene.


CLARICE TINSLEY, Fox Channel 4 News Anchor
Why Clarice? I sense she’s maternal, she has a name that I can (and do) say in a creepy Silence of the Lambs voice, and she gets a lot of emcee gigs at charity events. I have no idea whether these are paying gigs or if it’s just a free lunch situation, but I’d like to get in on the action. To be honest, I’ve heard her spiel, and I think Dallas audiences are ready for someone a little younger, hipper, and less prone to outbursts of “We love you all!” I’m not suggesting any All About Eve sort of business. I’m just saying that if I were to become the daughter Clarice never had, I could maybe fill in for her when she develops laryngitis or has to cover some breaking news.

I began my search at Tiffany & Co. (various locations, 330 NorthPark Center, 214-378-9800) and was drawn to the crystal lily of the valley pitcher ($150). I like the idea of Clarice—or “Tinz,” as I like to call her—using it to serve me a glass of Crystal Light. I’m interested in meeting her colleagues (hello, Baron James!) so I considered purchasing a dinner package at Eatzi’s (3403 Oak Lawn Ave., 214-526-1515), which includes a five-course dinner, wine, and a bottle of Dom, for six prepared by an Eatzi’s chef ($1,200). Every good hostess has Côte Bastide soaps ($17–$48), so a few of those are a safe bet, and My Favorite Room (1029 E. 15th St., Plano, 972-801-4901) has a great selection. While I was in Plano, I also popped into Williams-Sonoma Home (The Shops at Legacy, 7300 N. Dallas Pkwy., Plano, 972-673-0229, and found exactly what I was looking for. I imagine Clarice doesn’t mind cheese, so I opted for the gorgeous mother-of-pearl tray ($78) and the matching cheese service set ($48). They just screamed “TV anchorwoman.”

ALAN PEPPARD, Dallas Morning News Society Columnist
Not long ago, I dined at Mi Cocina. Troy Aikman and two local news anchors happened to be there, too. A few days later, Aikman’s and the two anchors’ names appeared in Peppard’s column; mine did not. Granted, I know I can’t compete with a former Dallas Cowboy, but Justin Farmer from ABC Channel 8? Come on. I’ve met Alan a few times, and he’s a nice guy. He just doesn’t see me as a bold-faced name at the moment. I will change that. Here’s what I know about Alan: he’s a Parkie, and he’s a writer. As a journalist myself, I am comfortable making the following assumptions: he’s a total snob and an alcoholic chain-smoker who is constantly taking notes (as writers are wont to do).

I began the quest at the recently opened Cartier (300 NorthPark Center, 972-726-7670), where I found a gold bird-shaped pen set ($210,000). I knew it would make “Scoop” (my pet name for Alan) smile, even when covering harrowing topics such as Cattle Baron’s. But then I got thirsty, and that reminded me of the drinking thing, so I headed over to the Copper Lamp (208 Preston Royal Shopping Center, 214-369-5166, I liked the Moser engraved whiskey glasses with the gold rim ($45 each). I considered buying two (one for him, one for me), but then I remembered that I don’t like whiskey. Forgetting that I don’t like whiskey stressed me out, which made me want a cigarette, which somehow led me to Hermès (21 Highland Park Village, 214-528-0197). There, I was taken with a gorgeous Indian-influenced porcelain dish. At $495, though, it would make for a rather pricey ashtray. As mentioned, Alan is from Highland Park, which means he must, by law, shop at Ralph Lauren (various locations, 58 Highland Park Village, 214-522-5270, I avoided the ponies and chose the black crystal skull-and-crossbones tumblers ($295 for two) and matching decanter ($495) because it’s elegant and funny, too—exactly as I imagine Alan. 

TOM LEPPERT, Mayor of Dallas
Tom is a bit of a mystery to me. I understand he was a businessman, and now he’s the mayor. He probably knows a lot of well-connected, influential people, and while that interests me, it’s not my primary focus. Tom looks like a dad—and that’s just what he is. He’s got some kids who are ESD students. Here’s the thing: can you imagine if your dad were mayor? No parking tickets. You wouldn’t have to pick up your dog’s waste. Best of all, you’d get to hang out with your dad’s cool friends and colleagues such as Chief Kunkle and his wife. Now, I don’t have father issues, but I do get a lot of parking tickets, so I needed to find the perfect gift for the perfect father.

Mecox (4352 Cole Ave., 214-580-3800, has a wonderful selection of white porcelain fruit, including apples, pears, and peaches ($135 each). Tom’s not getting any younger, and an apple a day does keep the doctor away, but he would likely be less amused by that than I. The idea of custom letter-pressed Bell ’Invito stationery (prices vary) from Nest (6731 Snider Plaza, 214-373-4444, appealed to me, as it is perfectly appropriate for letters such as “Mayor Tom Leppert gives Laura permission to do whatever she wants.” Tiecoon (4015 Villanova St., 214-369-8437) has some great cravats. I liked the navy one with duckboots and shotgun shells (Field Day, $40) and the pink Peter Blair golf-themed tie ($70). Dads always pretend to like the ties their kids choose, but they never wear them. So I opted for the navy blue Taylor Made “3D” golf visor ($16.99) at Edwin Watts Golf (2320 Stemmons Trail, 214-352-9431, It’s safe to assume that rich business-guy dads play golf . And if Tom is anything like my dad, he would be angry if a kid spent more than $25 on him anyway.

Capera is from a prominent family in Fort Worth. She knows a great deal about matters of taste and art, in part due to her job with Christie’s auction house. She collects Warhols. She’s super thin and wears couture clothing. She is on the guest list of every decent party in town. In other words, Capera is everything that I am not. And though I seemed to make her uncomfortable on the few occasions we’ve spoken, I remain optimistic about the prospect of our becoming best friends. I look forward to hanging out in her fabulous condo. Maybe she’ll even ask me to be her roommate. She can introduce me to all the best and brightest people on the social scene. Sure, she might have to loan me a couple of bucks for valets, and I’m hopeful that she has an overweight relative from whom I can borrow some fancy clothes, but it’s not like she won’t get something out of our friendship, too. Only as a pair can we become Dallas’ answer to Tinsley Mortimer and Fabiola Beracasa. My goal: to find something refined and tasteful.

I was taken with a glass martini tray with gold border ($170) from Stacy Hyde (2933 N. Henderson Ave., 214-370-4933). It’s gorgeous, dishwasher safe, and begging to be topped with wonderful cupcakes from Sprinkles (Plaza at Preston Center, 4020 Villanova Dr., 214-369-0004, I want her to gain weight. I hate being the “fat friend.” But I realized it’s too early to employ these tactics. I briefly considered buying her art. I’m in love with the whimsical Glass House Library. New Caanan, CT (prices start at $1,800, Barry Whistler Gallery, 2909-B Canton St., 214-939-0242, by Allison V. Smith (, but buying art for someone who works at Christie’s is daunting. I presume that even socialites sit on the couch now and again, and the modern black-and-white Jordan McMillan throw pillows ($75 each) from Haven seemed like a good call (2416 Victory Park Ln., 214-954-1515, But in the end, I had no choice but to go with a red box leather Hermés (21 Highland Park Village, 214-528-0197) day planner ($650). It’ll be easier for me to get a date on her books if I actually give her the book.

TONY ROMO, Dallas Cowboys Quarterback
I am not interested in dating Tony Romo because of his affiliation with the Dallas Cowboys. I know nothing about football, and I don’t want to know anything about football. In fact, until someone corrected me, I thought he had the same name as the popular rib joint, Tony Roma’s. No, I want to date Tony based solely on his looks. I don’t know whether he’s funny or smart—if he truly dated Jessica Simpson, I’m guessing no—but he’s handsome enough that it doesn’t matter. I have no problem being the funny, smart one of the couple. (I’m used to it.)

One would imagine that Tony is approached by desperate single women perhaps hundreds of times a day, so I had to come up with something that set me apart as the best-girlfriend-ever potential. I thought about going the funny route. Remember the kiosks in the mall where you could get t-shirts made? Armhole (3000 Blackburn St., Ste. 120., 214-369-824-9544, does that. You can get a t-shirt with David Hasselhoff, break-dancers, horrible adages—anything you want. It’s so fun, but I don’t know Tony well enough yet to know if he loves the Hoff like I do. From his name and occupation, I assume that he eats red meat. So the personalized meat brander with the initial “R” ($14) from Culinary Connection (5700 Legacy Dr., Ste. A3, Plano, 972-398-9009, would be ideal for when we have people over for barbecues. I wanted to promote the idea of us cuddling, so for that reason, a gray wool Avec throw ($694) from Smink (Inwood Village, 5730 W. Lovers Ln., 214-350-0542, was the perfect choice. I coupled that with a simple but elegant sterling Edwardian silver frame ($785 for an 8-by-10 glossy)—every couple should have one—from Madison (45A Highland Park Village, 214-528-8118, He can keep that handy, and, hopefully, that will keep those pesky Cowboys Cheerleaders away.

KRYSTAL SCHLEGEL, Student, Socialite
When people hear the last name “Schlegel,” they typically think of Kim (now Schlegel Whitman), the eldest of her three siblings. Kim got married at the Meyerson—with the entire Dallas Symphony Orchestra providing the tunes. She’s written two books, owned and sold a business, and has a baby. The lady has a lot going on. Then there’s Kirby, her younger brother. He’s part owner of the Texas Tornadoes, dates a whole bunch, and has a place at the W. I know even less about the two younger sisters, Kari and Krystal, but my heart tells me that to have a chance with the family, I should befriend Krystal, an 18-year-old student. I’ve been out of school for almost 19 years, so I may be a bit behind the times. But judging from my limited amount of time on campus, I think it’s safe to assume that many of today’s students are basically smarter Paris Hiltons: blonde, skinny, scantily clad girls who constantly talk on the phone.

That’s why I started my search at the Apple Store (multiple locations, 6121 W. Park Blvd., Ste. C120, Plano, 972-202-5651, in search of an iPhone ($399). I knew she probably had one already, but I was betting she didn’t know about Crystal Icing (, which covers the iPhone in Swarovski crystals for a mere $250 more. Speaking of bling, the jeweled Ferrare frame ($798) from The Iron Bed (5760 Legacy Dr., Plano, 469-241-9387) would be ideal for party pics. But then I remembered how much I loved wine coolers when I was in school, and that led me to the Chandi “wine cooler” ($350) at Napa Home (4012 Oak Lawn Ave., 214-520-4880). Granted, this cool glass concoction was a little more high-end than anything made by Bartles and Jaymes, but her name is Krystal, for God’s sake. In the end, though, I tried to temper bling with some restraint. I hope she digs the stackable gold and silver Rosa Maria rings (from $290) at Forty Five Ten (4510 McKinney Ave., 214-559-4510, as much as I do.

The day I took a job at D Magazine, I knew that my hopes of one day befriending Mark Cuban were destroyed. He doesn’t like the magazine nor, presumably, the people associated with it. I somehow managed to sleep. But that was before Dancing With the Stars, a show so painful that you really can’t afford not to watch it. Anyway, after watching Mark mambo, I decided I had to become his friend. Shopping for a married billionaire is tricky, though. I didn’t want to send the wrong message. I needed a gift that would make him think I’m a sweet girl. A sister figure, really. Someone worthy of getting set up with Dirk or his DWTS competitor Albert Reed. So, it seemed to me the safest bet was to shop for his kids, which I think he has one or two of, though I don’t know whether they are boys or girls. I could have called him, of course, but the last time a D Magazine reporter asked about his personal life, Cuban threatened to geld him. That’s not fun during the holidays, so I improvised and bought a ton of stuff.

What little girl wouldn’t want a Julie Albright doll (doll, accompanying hardback book, and accessories, $102) from American Girl? (Galleria Dallas, 13464 Dallas Pkwy., 888-777-0010, According to the literature, she’s a hippie chick trying to recover from her parents’ divorce. I’m a bit worried that his kid(s) might be babies, so I opted for a sleek, modern plexiglass lounger with a bright blue leather pad ($350) from Mod + Mini (6025 Royal Ln., Ste. 114, 214-234-0992, Even if Cuban doesn’t have an infant son at the moment, he could in the future. Just in case we’re talking toddler, I picked up a Kettler dune buggy ($175) at Froggies (location pending at press time,, which any kid—boy or girl—will go crazy for. And I always feel like a responsible adult when I give kids books, so I snapped up the cool sculptural pop-up book Blue 2, by David A. Carter ($19.95). It’s appropriate for kids of all ages and available at the Dallas Museum of Art (1717 N. Harwood St., 214-922-1256,

GREG ASHER, Hairdresser
Although Greg is a stylist, I don’t know how he ever has time to do hair. He goes to that many parties. If you’ve ever been to a social event, you’ve seen him. He’s the diminutive fellow who has a George Michael thing going on with the perpetual 5 o’clock shadow. But it’s not the shadow that draws your attention. It’s the lip gloss, expensive purses, and fabulous pumps—we’re talking Chanel—that merit notice. Not only am I dying to become his “plus one” at social events, I am dying to see his closet. The guy seriously goes out all the time, and it’s unusual to see him repeat outfits. It’s not often that I get jealous, but I am jealous of Greg. He has better shoes than I do, and his foot is a good three sizes smaller than mine. I won’t let that stop me from pursuing his friendship, however. Acquaintances have told me that he’s a good soul who is generous—even offering to lend clothes. What more could you ask for in a girlfriend?

Though hirsute, Greg is also delicate, so I want to protect him from the elements. I thought about the black Juicy Couture cashmere “luxury scarf” with pompoms ($225, Juicy Couture, multiple locations, Dallas Galleria, 13350 Dallas Pkwy., Ste. 1380, 972-980-4539, The man loves handbags, so I thought hard about the Erva clutch ($495) at Barneys New York (NorthPark Center, 8687 N. Central Expwy., Ste. 1224, 214-647-2465, But I’m not sure I’m qualified to pick out his handbag just yet. After we’re best friends, I have high hopes for us to vacation together in Palm Springs. That’s why I snapped up the “Try It, You’ll Fly It” Dopp kit ($78) from Kiehl’s (80 Highland Park Village, 214-559-0700). It includes shaving cream, soap, and shampoo. I threw in some cranberry Lip Balm No. 1 ($8.50), just so his lips will stay glossy.

CAROLINE ROSE HUNT, Inheritex, Developer
How great would it be to have a family matriarch? She may be elegant, but nobody messes with a matriarch. Think Barbara Stanwyck in the 1983 miniseries The Thorn Birds. And while I’m not at all suggesting that Mrs. Hunt is experiencing any inappropriate feelings toward a handsome priest, I do think she’s the most matriarchal lady in town. Between her hotel business, Rosewood, and her numerous charities, she’s a constant bastion of grace and generosity, and there’s not enough of that in this town. She seems to me the sort of woman who finds the idea of driving a Hummer as rude and offensive as farting at the table. When I become her surrogate granddaughter, we will laugh about that as we have tea in one of her many gardens.

To that end, I was tempted to get her a pair of ornate iron garden lanterns ($84.95 each) at Into the Garden (4527 McKinney Ave., 214-351-5125). But I knew that she would absolutely adore the persimmon garden stool at Mecox (4352 Cole Ave., 214-580-3800, Then I started feeling guilty about the prospect of all that wasted tea—I don’t care for it. I know she’s wealthy, but that doesn’t mean she should have to brew a whole pot if half of it is going to waste. That’s why the MariageFrères  tea service set for one ($95) at Grange Hall (4445 Travis St., Ste. 101, 214-443-0600) seemed right. Afterward, I ran to Neiman Marcus (multiple locations) and picked up the limited edition of Reflection of a Man: The Photographs of Stanley Marcus. It’s a leather-bound book that comes in a beautiful box, with a color print from the book ($750; regular edition $60). I figure we can discuss her own Neiman Marcus memories as she sips her tea. What could be more refined than that?

Laura Kostelny is the managing editor of D Home. Write to [email protected].

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