It’s a new year and a chance for a new you. If it’s time to rethink your whole look, there are a few simple steps you can take to change your clothes, hairstyle and overall image.
Image consultant Susan Osborne, based in Manchester, says everyone has a “brand” and once they figure that out they can begin to craft an outward appearance that fits that brand. And knowing your brand has a lot to do with your personality and what sorts of things you want to accomplish.
“The very first step in making any change, in order for it to be long-lasting, is to first identify what you want to move away from and what you want to move toward,” Osborne said.
Andrea Dupont, an image consultant from Portsmouth who is also one of only five fashion feng shui masters in the world, puts it another way.
“From my perspective, in order to change your look you need to know who you are and what you want to attract into your life,” Dupont said. “Say you want to attract a better job. Then you would probably need to be more put together with a better quality and reflect the image of the industry that you want to get into.”
Dupont said people too often select their attire by mirroring the fashion choices of those around them in their everyday life, rather than turning inward and trying to figure out what they enjoy wearing as an individual.
Osborne recommends looking to people you admire and wish to emulate. Watch their attire closely and pay attention to the little details to see how they pull it off.
Pick your costume
Once you have a good sense of who you are and what you want, it’s time to start picking out clothes.
Dupont advises against shopping with a friend or listening to the sales person when they say something looks good on you — they’ll say that no matter what you’re wearing.
“Trust your instincts,” Dupont said. “If it doesn’t really make you smile, then don’t buy it.”
Osborne said people tend to fall into habits and patterns with their clothes and they need to try to break free of those habits if they want to update their look in a significant way.
“How clothes fit the body is also a pattern and a habit for people,” Osborne said.
For instance, if your clothes are usually baggy, try finding something that is more fitted. Osborne also emphasizes the importance of color.
“Colors make a big difference in our appearance,” Osborne said. “Wearing the right temperature of colors and the right intensity of colors that is good for our skin color, our hair color, eye color, our own temperature, and something that complements that, it really makes a nice enhancement in the way that you look and come across.”
And Dupont said a few little items added to your attire can go a long way in completing the picture.
“You have to take it to the next level and accessorize and make it more of a look versus just putting two pieces of clothes on,” Dupont said.
Change your hair
Osborne said changing up your hairstyle offers some quick and easy ways to change your look. Bangs or no bangs, short hair or long hair, people must make their own decisions about what specific styles to pursue, but Osborne recommends experimenting in small steps.
Women can try a new hair color by starting with different shades until they’re comfortable with the full transformation.
Gail Henry, the owner of Dude’s Barber Shop in Hooksett, said the quickest way for men to play around with new styles is with styling products like gel, wax or cream.
“I think No. 1 is product. Get the right product for the look you’re going for,” Henry said. “There’s everything from making your hair crunchy and stiff to making it flexible. … Whatever style they’re looking for, they can attain with the right product.”
Keep your head high
Beauty is only skin-deep, however. Another way you can significantly change your look is by changing the way you carry yourself in public.
“Body language speaks volumes about who we are, how we feel about ourselves,” Osborne said. “Standing erect, shoulders back, not slouching, not having their head down, really creating good powerful presence … when you walk into a room is not only a confidence-builder but it also projects confidence as well.”
Ultimately, Osborne said, it’s important to remember that long-lasting change will not happen overnight. So while these quick fixes can set you in the right direction, you must be patient in crafting an overall look.
“Rome was not built in a day, and with image consulting it is the same way. It is definitely a process,” Osborne said.