Barbet takes this fashion-challenged Yahoo journo shopping! (JD Myers)
Described as "a revealing look into the exclusive world of the affluent," featuring "personal shoppers who make their living on the hunt for the most coveted fashion splurges for their wealthy clients," "Million Dollar Shoppers" is an absolutely insane roller coaster ride of a show, largely thanks to the huge personalities who've been cast as the experts advising some of the most fashion-challenged clients the world has ever seen. Oh, and it's from the folks who produce "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" (and all of its spin-offs) and "Princesses: Long Island." In other words, the drama gets brought.
Each of the show's initial six episodes begin with the shoppers breezing into their clients' jaw-dropping closets and homes and then consulting with them about their fashion needs, be it for a specific event, upcoming vacation, or an entire wardrobe makeover. Fans follow the highly-driven shoppers to see who rakes in the most commission and the ultimate bragging rights. To say that the shoppers are large personalities is the understatement of the year.
For example, take Barbet Smith — one of the show's breakout stars; a hockey mom of four raised in Westchester County, she has impeccable taste and is remarkably unaffected by the exorbitant wealth of her clients. As outgoing as they come, she holds nothing back in her opinions, and she can make the most uptight person feel more confident about their wardrobe. She asks questions of her clients like, "Does anyone have a signature dish?" and says to a bridesmaid looking for a dress to wear, "Sunshine, you had your day. It is somebody else's time. Step aside sister!"
So, what better way to get to know Barbet than to have her take me and a couple of friends on a personal shopping trip? I was in NYC from L.A. for work, so I set up some time on a Saturday afternoon to meet up with one of the most colorful personalities on cable. We agreed to connect in the West Village and see what she could do with our shopping needs.
Barbet greeted myself — and my buddies Jason and David — with huge hugs. She immediately made us feel relaxed as she asked us about what our goals were for sprucing up our fall wardrobes. I explained that what I really needed was just some new staples — a pair of pants, a blazer, and a strong pair of shoes — that I could mix and match with anything. I'm a working journalist after all, not one of her wealthy Upper East Side clients.
She inspected me from head to toe and led us off to the trendy Bleecker Street.
Our first stop was Gant, a brand that I had never worn before this trip, but that I soon realized would well complement my preppy J.Crew aesthetic. Right away, Barbet dove in picking out shirts, pants, and other items. The first things she found: a pair of salmon-colored pants (because who doesn't need salmon-colored pants?! Do I look like Ross Geller? Well, maybe a little ... and salmon is apparently the next big thing) and a blue and white checkered shirt. I tried them both on and, sure enough, they looked great. The pants were too long, but the color was so good, Barbet insisted that I had to have them, plus I could just get them hemmed when I returned to L.A. Then she picked out a blue blazer, which I liked — but didn't love — so it ended up back on the rack.
Shopping for salmon-colored pants in Gant (JD Myers)
My friend Jason, whose style is a bit more eclectic and edgier than mine, didn't have it so easy. For some reason, Jason was still looking for summer clothes. Rightfully, everything that Jason picked up, Barbet shot down (it's fall!). He seemed set on this pair of weird, moon-print swimming shorts. Barbet threw out an insult so sharp that even Jason was in stitches. It was something along the lines of "Do you think those are going to get you a date?" I'm not sure if Jason ended up buying anything or not, but she definitely kept him laughing.
Jason gets shot down by Barbet (JD Myers)
My friend David is a nice, preppy Jewish boy, just like me, and with winter around the corner, he was looking for sweaters. At first, he found a plaid shirt he liked, which Barbet agreed would work for him. Then she picked out the perfect gray sweater to match the shirt, and just like that David was all set. Ta da! Barbet's magic worked.
David finds the perfect sweater! (JD Myers)
From Gant, we moved on to the RRL by Ralph Lauren store, which had truly gorgeous stuff. Right away, Barbet found the perfect weathered leather jacket for me ... but it was expensive — as in, $800 expensive. As much as I loved it (Barbet's taste was spot on), we were in and out of there, because I have absolutely no business spending $800 on a jacket. I felt a bit self-conscious that I couldn't drop that much cash, but Barbet certainly didn't make me feel ashamed about it.
Lastly, we needed to look for shoes. On the same block was a British shoe brand called Kurt Geiger. I had never heard of the brand before, but the shoes in the window looked cool to Barbet, so we checked it out. She started out by asking me if anything caught my eye. I wanted a pair of shoes that I could wear at work and also out and about afterwards to events in Hollywood. I thought maybe a cool pair of Hampton-style boat shoes would do the trick, but the only pair I found seemed completely wrong. The look of disgust on Barbet's face said it all.
Shoe shopping at Kurt Geiger (JD Myers)
Then we saw them: My perfect pair of shoes! It was a Carrie Bradshaw moment. The color, the style — all of it said "cool, preppy journalist with just the slightest sense of mediocre style." They were light grey, with a bright blue sole — and they fit perfectly. As soon as I picked them up, Barbet and my eyes met, and we both knew that I had to buy these shoes!
Most importantly, they were reasonably priced. They were right around the $125 range. Totally affordable, especially since I plan to wear them regularly all fall. They certainly didn't break my piggy bank. Done and done.
On our way out, a man who we'd seen in the Gant store stopped Barbet to ask her for advice on some potential purchases he was thinking about, having recognized her from the show. Being the overly kind person that she is, she gave the inquiring stranger some fashion tips before sending him on his merry shopping way.
At the end our trip, it was time for a celebratory drink. The whole gang popped into a local bar to toast our successful shopping afternoon. It felt like victory.
Celebrating our successful shopping trip / Barbet helps a lost shopper on the street (JD Myers)
Of course, even after we parted ways, Barbet wasn't done with us. On Sunday, she called our mutual friend JD at Lifetime to say that she'd found the most perfect pashmina scarves for men that she'd ever seen, and that since they weren't expensive, she insisted that we each get one, so she went ahead and bought them for us. I had never before in my life felt the need to own a pashmina scarf, but sure enough, Barbet's instinct was right. I can look good rocking a pashmina! Hey, sometimes a guy just has to give into his inner fashionista and go with what Barbet suggests (and has already gifted to you!). Because nine and a half times out of 10, what the expert says is going to be right.
I can't say that I'd ever felt the need for a personal shopper in my life before, but having gone shopping with one of the best, I wouldn't be averse to doing it again. If nothing else, I'd certainly met a new friend who I'd like to hang out with more.
Be sure to catch Barbet and the other personal shoppers (Amy Salinger, Derek Roche, and BFFs Gregg Asher and Tayler Carson Sandvick) on the penultimate episode of Season 1 of "Million Dollar Shoppers" tonight at 10 p.m. on Lifetime.
Note: All purchases made while shopping with Barbet were done on the journalist's own dollar.
Watch a clip of Barbet on "Million Dollar Shoppers":