Fashion / Style

The Matriarch of a Dallas Family Dynasty Always Knew How to Be a Fancy Lady: Myrna Schlegel Looks Back at 24-Hour Drives, Canadian Romance and Stiletto Power in Her Bomb Moment

BY // 08.02.18

“People will stare. Make it worth their while.” I thought I would start this month’s column with this quote made famous by the legendary Harry Winston. It couldn’t be more appropriate. Every time I have encountered the zestful Myrna Schlegel over the past 10 years, she has delivered stop-and-stare fashion in spades.

Myrna met Bob Schlegel — the man of her dreams — at age 16. She had known his family for years; his mother was her bible-school teacher growing up. Both born and raised in Canada, Myrna and Bob had a courtship straight out of a storybook romance.

The result is a marriage that grows stronger even after 45 years. I feel like my thank-you gift for her time should be a settee pillow needlepointed with the words: “Born in Canada but made it to Texas as quick as my heels could get me here.” Because, well, that’s what she did.

Myrna and Bob built their business empire together, and Myrna’s acumen was awarded when she was accepted to the Fort Worth chapter of YPO.

Like me, Myrna appreciates a bargain. She remembers her early years in business and being fashionable yet frugal. I love hearing her stories about the business’ startup years, when she and Bob would travel back and forth from Toronto to Dallas — road trips without overnight stops (yes, 24 hours at the wheel) to save money. Bob would often say, “Head straight down, and then make a right in Nashville.”

Today, anyone who has been in Dallas long enough knows that Bob and Myrna are the pater and mater familias of the Schlegel dynasty, with four beautiful and ambitious progeny, Kim, Kari, Krystal, and Kirby. All of the Schlegel scions have made names for themselves in business and in the community, supporting numerous charities — something they learned from their philanthropic parents.

Myrna straddles two eras. The first is one of old-school etiquette. She shared with me that if she receives invitations to three events, all happening on the same evening, she always goes to all three. She takes her attendance seriously: It is, after all, to support the host, who is often a friend — and she always sends a note and sometimes a gift in gratitude the next day.

She also embraces the era of social media. I adore the fact that her Instagram handle is @bigmommaschleg. And, instead of selfies, one finds adoring shots of her family or Myrna herself carrying a fuel container to her car, that one time she ran out of gas.

What’s the date of this photo?

Early 1960s.

What you were wearing?

Growing up in a small town in Canada, I loved nothing more than getting all dressed up in adult clothing and pretending I was going out in the big city with my dog, Buttons. He went everywhere with me, usually wearing baby clothes.

My outfits usually had a big crinoline underneath for extra flare! Polka dots were my favorite, big or small, and I still love them. I would throw my hair up in a French twist and often attach a flower from the garden to finish the look.

My mother sold Avon, so I would sneak her box of little lipstick samples and usually picked the brightest red I could find. I was in heaven with more than 100 tiny samples to pick from. I always got in trouble when she noticed my bright red lips, but it was worth it.

Always, always I finished off my outfit with the highest pair of stilettos I could find. I still wear stilettos every single day of my life. I never feel totally dressed without them.

What’s the price of fashion for you?
I may not have always had the most expensive clothes or the latest designer clothes, but they were always ladylike. To this day, I prefer dresses over slacks. As for some of my favorite designers today, I love Lanvin, Roberto Cavalli, and Balmain. I just love clothes, period.

Why this is a picture of you?

Because even as a child I wanted to feel feminine through dress. I wanted to pretend that even though I looked like a fancy lady, I could go out and work. I am not your classic feminist protesting for women’s rights in the work place and for equality to men.

I am a true believer and have taught my daughters, that there is nothing wrong with having a door opened for you, a chair pulled out for you, or a man standing for you when you come to a board table. Those are things you will deserve and get when you conduct yourself in a professional manner.

Never consider yourself a minority, but demand equality through your work standard and your abilities. When you do this and you dress appropriately, you will often get respect.

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