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Betsy Barbieux ~ Image Inside and Out
Betsy Barbieux ~ Image Inside and Out Betsy Barbieux ~ Image Inside and Out
Professional Development


One Man’s Journey With an Image Consultant

By James Combs

Let’s get one thing straight. I’ve always been the stereotypical guy when it comes to clothing. When I wake up, I basically grab something out of my closet and put it on without worrying about color coordinating. The only thing that really mattered to me was whether they were cleaned or ironed!!!

I’ve never really been too enthusiastic about shopping for clothes either. Never did I care whether my pants, shorts or shirts polished my image as a whole. Instead, I was more concerned whether they fit comfortably. And if they did, that was reason enough to purchase them.

Walk into my closet and look at my wardrobe. That will give you a good idea about my simple-minded and ignorant approach to clothing. A few weeks ago, I decided to that I needed to drastically change my image and the way I went about dressing myself. Working in a job that allows me meet and interact with a myriad of people in Lake County, I realized it was time to start dressing as sharply as possible. After all, the first impression I make on these people is a direct reflection of the company where I’m employed.

But how would I go about this? How would I know which colors would look good on me? What type of pants and shirts would make me appear as a “sharp-dressed man?” As I attempted to answer these questions, I kept drawing a blank. It became painfully obvious that I would need to seek a professional image consultant.

So I decided to utilize the services of Betsy Barbieux, a lifelong Leesburg resident and certified image consultant. She has an excellent reputation in Lake County and throughout Florida. My boss, Rob English, told me minutes before I left to see Betsy: “James, be open-minded about everything she tells you. Many people have told me how they receive lots of compliments about the colors and clothing she chooses for them. She’s excellent at what she does.”

As I walked in Betsy’s Leesburg-based business, Image Inside & Out, the first thing I noticed was her outgoing personality. She seems to have some sort of magical “glow” around her that lights up an entire room. You can’t help but notice her friendly smile and sparkling eyes. Within seconds, I had already reached a comfort level with Betsy. I thought to myself: “Wow, I’m coming to her so I can make better first impressions with the people I meet. Look at the first impression she just made on me!! This lady will definitely be able to help me!!”

Betsy explained to me that I was going through her “Ultimate Image Day,” where she offers a full range of services to assess image and create a personal style strategy that coincides with ones body type, lifestyle and goals. She told me what a good first impression is all about.

“I try to create visual weight across their shoulders, which will make others look at you face instead of your stomach, hips or feet. When we approach someone for the first time, our eyes start down and then proceed to drift up. If something is out of harmony, the eye will bounce back down. My goal is to get someone to look at your face and eyes. I don’t want them stuck on your tie, lipstick or pants. If someone instantly compliments you about your suit, I’m afraid the suit walked in the room first.”

Before Betsy and I began the color analysis, I explained to her that the majority of my clothes were black. Hey, I’m a pretty big guy, and I’ve always heard that black is slenderizing. She quickly debunked that myth. “I’ve had a lot of people come to me over the years who wear black for the same reason. The goal when dressing is not to look smaller or bigger. I would rather see clients reach self-acceptance and dress the best they can.”

She also explained to me how the colors make a difference in your appearance, whether it be clothing, cosmetics or accessories such as jewelry. The wrong colors, she said, can make you look older, while wrinkles and blemishes appear more evident. Even the whites of eyes can look washed out. In contrast, the right colors make you look younger, and your skin looks healthier and radiant. Fine lines and wrinkles will not be emphasized as much.

During the color analysis, I sat in a chair and stared into a mirror as Betsy determined which clothing colors would best harmonize with my eyes, skin and hair using tester drapes and tester panels. When it was all said and done, she said I was a “Thanksgiving floral arrangement.” By that, she meant that the most appropriate colors for me are any shade of brown, golden yellow, coral, tan, olive and various shades of green. Colors such as pink, gray, white, black and blue were out of the question. She was nice enough to present me with a booklet containing 36 fabric swatches of the colors which matched me. It will definitely come in handy when I’m out shopping on my own.

Nearly two weeks later, I went on a private shopping lesson with Betsy at Belk’s, which is located in the Lake Square Mall. Throughout most of my life I’ve thought shopping for clothes was about as fun as watching paint dry. Somehow, though, Betsy managed to make it fun. Part of the reason for that, I suspect, is because she was so excited about making me look better. Her enthusiasm rubbed off on me. And that proved to be a good thing because I don’t think I’ve ever tried on so many clothes in my life!!

She told me that price is the last consideration when purchasing clothing items. “If we can find a perfect piece of clothing you’ve got to go for it,” she said. “We might spend $400 in a couple hours, but at least you know you’re not buying clothes that you’ll throw away. So in the long run it saves you money.”

Betsy picked out several outfits for me. Now, let me say this: these were outfits that I NEVER would have thought about purchasing before I met Betsy. One was a green Hawaiian-style shirt with flowers embroidered on it. Personally, I was worried that the flowers were way too feminine. However, she assured me that was not the case.

And that was confirmed the very next day when I wore that shirt to work along with tan pants. The reaction I received from my co-workers was simply amazing. “Oh my gosh look at James,” said Cindi McRae, her mouth wide open and eyes almost popping out. “You are a handsome devil. That outfit is perfect on you!!”

My boss, Rob, was equally impressed. “James, you’ve never looked so good in your life. Betsy did a terrific job with you. Now that’s how you should dress all the time.”

Later that day, I went to do an interview at a business in Clermont where I had been about five months earlier. As soon as the receptionist saw me she said, “James, it looks like you’ve lost a lot of weight.” Now, the honest truth is I haven’t lost weight. Like I said earlier, I thought only black clothing could make me look thinner. Obviously, I can only conclude that this particular outfit looked so good on me that the receptionist naturally thought I had lost weight. It was a good feeling.

The trip to Belk’s with Betsy proved to be the most productive shopping experience of my life. It has also helped me to focus when I go into a store. I am able to quickly see if there is anything there for me or not. My time is precious, and now I can shop without wasting any time, and more importantly, any money.

I was very, VERY impressed with Betsy Barbieux. She is very thorough and professional, and I would wholeheartedly recommend her to anyone looking to improve his/her appearance. They say when you look good you feel good, and in that respect Betsy has helped me feel better about myself. It’s truly amazing how many compliments I’ve received since proudly sporting my new wardrobe!!

Thank you so much, Betsy, for opening my mind and helping me realize that dressing well IS important.

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Image Inside & Out
2501 West Main Street # 108, Leesburg, FL 34748

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