To make it as easy as possible for you to get started on your personal makeover I have used my image consulting knowledge to identify 6 simple steps to take.
Whenever you feel there's something about your appearance that needs to be changed assess yourself against these 6 steps and see if you can identify what you need to work on.
The style steps apply to both women and men (men: you can ignore the makeup advice ;D!).
Good personal hygiene -- wash yourself daily, don't wear tops more than once without washing them (okay sometimes, especially when you're travelling, you may be able to get away with wearing tops more than once, but do make sure they're not stained or smelly!).
Have a good skin cleansing and moisturizing routine too (yes men as well!)
Hair care -- this includes the color, condition and cut of your hair. Make sure you have a contemporary hair cut (this is key to maintaining a youthful look) that suits your face shape (find out how to determine your face shape here). If you're a woman over 40 with hair longer than your shoulders, seriously consider a cut to shoulder length or above -- it provides an instant face lift effect! To help choose your next hairstyle try out virtual hair styles.
Hair care also includes making sure there are no distracting hairs growing out of places they shouldn't! Such as between eyebrows, or over grown eyebrows, nose, ears and so on. (Men in particular need to pay attention to this)
Makeup -- a moderate amount
of makeup used to enhance your
features and even your skin tone is really good practise. (There are
studies that have shown that women wearing appropriate makeup earn more
money than those who don't!)
If you don't know how to apply makeup, or you haven't changed your makeup in a while, I recommend you take a makeup lesson from a qualified makeup artist
Caring and maintaining your clothes -- make sure your clothes are in good condition. Sew up fallen hems, sew on loose or fallen buttons. If a collar is fraying and it can't be repaired it's time to throw the shirt away (or recycle it as cleaning rags or cushion stuffing)
Well manicured nails -- nails should be clean and neatly trimmed. Cuticles pushed back. Remove chipped nail polish
Color has such a powerful effect on our emotions and our appearance that it is worth investing time and money understanding more about it.
Color can also be used to help create the "perfect" body shape and to focus attention on our best features and down play the not-so-good.
Every color has a temperature associated with it (cool, neutral, or warm). Each color type also has perceived temperatures. For example, true red is a warm color, but can be perceived as cool if it has blue mixed with it.
Our skin, hair and eyes also have temperatures associated with them. Our skin actually has 2 temperatures associated with it: an overtone (what we see most obviously when we look at a person); and an undertone (most easily seen by draping a person with different colors and seeing the effect on the skin). Our skin undertone is the most important for determining whether our best colors will be mainly cool, or mainly warm.
The aim is to enhance our coloring by wearing colors that reflect our coloring.
Most of us are born with an instinctive feel for which colors suit us best. However, that instinct can be derailed over the years. For example...
See how easy it can be to get confused? However, if you know a bit about color it's much easier to get it right.Read more about color and color analysis here.
The second part is to learn how to use clothing and colors to create your most flattering looks.
The key here is understanding what you're aiming for...
For women: the "ideal" shape is a normal weight, medium height, hourglass horizontal shape, balanced body vertical proportions and an oval face shape
For men: the "ideal" shape is a normal weight, moderately tall, trapezoid horizontal shape, with a balanced vertical shape and an oval shaped face
If these are your proportions, lucky you! You have lots of clothing and hairstyle choices. Though do take care that your clothing choices don't change these proportions.
For the majority of the rest of us our aim is to use clothes, colors and accessories to create the illusion of perfect proportions.
To make sure you're not sabotaging your look check...
The whole "picture". Look at
yourself in a full length
mirror. Do you like what you see? Where is your attention drawn first?
Is that one of your best features? If not, can you change the focal
point in that outfit somehow?
Make sure you check your side and rear views too! (Yes, your bum might look big in that!)
The details. Check the internal design lines, colors and patterns within your outfit. For example, ensure there is not a horizontal pattern running across the widest part of your hips if you have a triangle horizontal shape; if you are short make your pants or skirt are the same color value (that is the same level of lightness or darkness) or darker than your top.
I also offer an online eStyles program to take the guess work out of choosing the most flattering styles for your shape: eStyles for women; eStyles for men. Both of these programs also offer a professional body shape assessment for a small extra charge.
To take your knowledge of using line and design to the next level have a look at my recommended style resources.
When you've mastered the basics of style (the first 3 steps above) you may start to notice that, sometimes, even when a style suits you, fits well and the color is right you still don't like it.
The next level of sophistication in developing your style comes by understanding your personality and reflecting your personality in your style choices and in the way you put together your outfits.
This is where you can really have some fun! The place to start is in your wardrobe. Identify the outfits you love and try to work out why. How do those outfits make you feel?
You can find out more about personal style here.
I've written a few articles on how to audit and plan your wardrobe, so do use those to help organize your wardrobe.
I recommend you do this step at least twice a year: around the time winter changes to spring; then again when summer changes to fall/autumn.
I also suggest you pack away clothes that are definitely off season (such as your lightest summer dresses in your fall review, or your winter woollies in your spring review). This allows you more space to see the clothes you will be able to wear in the upcoming weeks and months.
Do try different combinations of clothes and accessories to create new looks. Take notice of fashion styling (in store windows, online and in print) to identify possible new ways of wearing what you already have. Make a wish list of items you'd like to complete your outfits. Mend and alter whatever needs changing.
Identify what you're missing for the likely upcoming events and activities. Do you have at least 1 outfit that will take you to an unexpected dressy event?
Does your work wardrobe need to be improved to help you meet achieve your goals?
Do you understand about levels of dress and how to match them to the people you'll be with, the occasion, the venue and the time of day? (The Occasion Magic ebook by Diana Pemberton-Sikes explains this really well).
The aim of this step is to consciously shop to your wardrobe plan (step 5), to create an inspiring wardrobe that works for every area of your life.
It's not necessary to have masses of clothes and accessories. It's better to have clothes you love and wear that work for your lifestyle and enhance how you look.
I find many of you hate clothes and accessory shopping. I suspect that's partly because you don't know your best colors and styles. However, it's also because you don't know how to go about shopping. You'll find that when you're focused, and when you have planned your shopping, you're far more likely to find the item(s) you need to start filling those gaps in your wardrobe.
Learn more about successful clothes shopping here.
As you go through assessing your grooming, colors, and so on, identify the areas that you feel you need to improve, or need to learn more about. You'll find lots of articles on my website to help you with this.
You can also ask your style question here. Please be as specific with your question as possible. The more details and photos you can give me to help me answer your question the better (here's an example of a well worded question). Do take a look at the questions I've already answered, you may find something there that answers your question -- if so feel free to post a comment to say how the question and answer helped you.
Some of the style steps need to be visited more frequently than others. For example, when you know your best colors, they won't change until your coloring changes significantly through changing your hair color, or as you age and one day suddenly realize that some of your colors are now too bright, too clear, or too warm for you.
If you're ready to refine your look and improve your appearance revisit the steps and identify which area you want to learn more about.
The important thing, when you're transforming your look, is not to get overwhelmed. Start at step 1 and don't move to step 2 until you're happy with your grooming. Then move to step 2 and so on.