Julie Harrison

Location: Dallas, TX
Age: Over 50
Marital Status: Single
Education: BFA, Arizona State University & MA, University of Houston

Julie grew up in Corpus Christie, the daughter of a sharp dressed oilman and elegant stay-at-home mother. “I loved ballet and played the piano and was a good student. On the other hand, being a Texas girl, I went hunting with my father, helped train the bird dogs, water-skied and sailed. I had a kind of dual life.”

Her career has been just as varied. A quick stint as a piano teacher (“I couldn’t stand it”) led to administrative work with symphonies in Austin and London, and when her first marriage ended in divorce, Julie circled back to Texas for another symphony job, this time in Dallas.  She shifted from music to fashion (“don’t ask me how”), landing marketing jobs at Neiman Marcus and Stanley Korshak.

“But all along the way I continued with ballet as my exercise,” she says. One day her dance teacher at the Crescent Hotel spa came back from a trip to California with news about an exciting new exercise. “This was back in the late ’80s,” Julie recalls. “She said, ‘Oh my gosh, there’s this thing called Pilates and it’s so wonderful!”  Julie left fashion to become a certified Pilates trainer and after her second husband died in 2001, she wanted a job that was flexible enough–no pun intended–to enable her to also raise her young daughter. When she opened her own Pilates studio, this career chameleon had finally found her true calling.

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Tell me about your pilates studio.

I built it behind my home, I only do one on one, private Pilates and I have a pretty select clientele that I just adore. They range from a 12-year-old aspiring ballerina to equestrians, tennis players. Seventy-two is my oldest. All women.

Tell me about your style

I’d say it’s a modern elegance. Classic with some unexpected twists or unexpected influences. Classic but not old lady classic.

Where do you shop for clothes?

I typically do a lot of shopping at the downtown Neiman Marcus store but then I also shop at the Gap and Banana Republic, Club Monaco and Target.

Any designers you like a lot?

I really like Ports 1961. They’re not cheap but they’re not outrageous. They have European fabrics and handcrafted details and there’s a bit of architectural flair to them.

Some of the pieces are very elegant and feminine and some are sleek and modern.

When you’re in your 50s you’ve got to be careful to try not to look too youthful, you know? You see something and think, that looks so cute, and then you try it on and it’s like ‘Ohhh that’s for my daughter, not me

Why do you love Johnny Rodriguez salon?

I’d describe the salon as classic but contemporary.  Not classic like the old style blonde bouffant “Dynasty” hairstyle. It’s elegant but it still has a contemporary cutting edge. Whether it’s the color or style, you’re going to look fresh, not out of date.

What do you do for skincare?

I’ve used the gamut, the latest Armani products, whatever. I go to a dermatologist and they gave me samples of CeraVe. I’ve only started to use it. They’ve told me, you can use Neutrogena products, you could use Olay. Just be sure you always clean your face, always moisturize, get plenty of sleep and use Renova or a retin A type product. And sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen. I like Aveno 55.

How about makeup?

For foundation and eye shadows I like Armani. It’s very natural looking, natural for your age. It’s not overdone. I work really hard at looking natural.

Who influenced your style?

My mom had a very quiet elegance but my father, for his time, was this cutting edge, sleek dresser who could’ve walked straight onto the set of “Mad Men.” Whether it was architecture or interior design or clothes, they seemed to have some style.

Who inspires you?

I guess because I’m a widow and on my own, I’m certainly inspired by women who have their own businesses. Sometimes my clients inspire me. My daughter inspires me.

In what way?

The way she views everything, you know, with a fresh eye and an un-jaded adventurousness.

Do you date?

I do but it’s a challenge to meet people. I’ve done some internet dating and I’m thinking of joining a kind of matchmaking thing. But I’d rather be alone than to be with somebody that’s not great.

What’s a great book you’ve read?

I love the classics, Anna Karenina, East of Eden, Ian McEwen’s books, Atonement, Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry was great. And I just finished Netherland. His use of language was so beautiful. A lot of it takes place in New York, but a New York you don’t typically think about

How do you rejuvenate?

Besides Pilates and being outside, I like browsing bookstores and discovering new authors and reading.  If I can travel, I love to go to the ocean.

Do you have a signature perfume?

Perfume makes me sneeze. But I love Chanel No. 5. I put on just a little bit.

What is your secret, favorite spot in Dallas?

I’d probably say home. I mean being at home with my family and my dog and a good book and a fire going in the fireplace. Or walking on a beach by an ocean somewhere.

Favorite travel destination?

Portofino, Italy.  I love the colors and the water. There’s a beautiful little harbor and the food is fabulous and there’s this incredible hotel called the Splendido that’s perched up on a mountain. And I love Santa Barbara and walking by the ocean there too.

What is your greatest indulgence?

Creating great memories. Even if it means breaking traditions on holidays like cooking French food for Thanksgiving or going to a movie on Christmas morning.

Favorite wine?

A French white wine called Montrachet.

Do you have a signature item?

I like Me & Ro jewelry. It’s understated and suits me because I’m small.

What is your favorite restaurant in Dallas?

Cafe Pacific in Highland Park Village. It’s primarily seafood. It’s back to that idea of casual elegance–white tablecloths but not frou-frou. It’s one of those places you want to go back to because the service is great, the food is great, the setting is great, and it’s not one of those I’m-here-to-be-seen kind of places.

What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned in your varied careers?

That you’re never too old to have a mentor. And that you should always listen to your gut.

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