Revamp your wardrobe, makeup, hair and more with our quick tips
1 There’s something about the turn of a calendar year that makes everyone crave dramatic change, especially when it comes to physical appearance (you know, the whole “New Year, New Look” thing). But you don’t have to lose 20 pounds, dye your hair red or max out your credit card at the mall to reinvent your image—smaller changes can add up to a big impact. Here are 10 almost-effortless ways to update your appearance for 2009. They’re quick, inexpensive, and unlike the many trendy diets the season brings, require nearly zero willpower. Read on for the tips.
2 Part your hair on the other side
Been parting your hair the same way for as long as you can remember? Experimenting with a new look can be as simple as flipping it to the opposite side of your head. The simple switch can add new volume at the roots and alter the way the front sections frame your face. “Changing your part is an especially great way to get long hair out of a rut without sacrificing any length,” says San Diego–based hairstylist Jet Rhys. If your hair is strongly “trained” in its usual direction, she suggests this trick: Move your part before bed using a comb and a bit of styling cream, then put on a wide, no-slip elastic headband. Slip folded tissue beneath the band to keep it from leaving crease marks in your hair. When you wake up, your new part will stay in place without flyaways. Or, buy some hair-setting tape and use it to secure the hair beside your part while you sleep.
3 Accessorize to your advantage
Don’t buy a whole new wardrobe—just make people think you did, by updating the items that get noticed the most, like your handbag. Accessories are also a cost-effective way to update your closet’s contents because you can wear them day after day. This year, look for pieces made from faux crocodile leather and other exotic “skins,” says New York–based handbag designer Rebecca Minkoff. To make your outfits appear more high-end, choose a handbag that has brass hardware instead of silver; it looks expensive and is a bit more unexpected. Or, to make clothes feel more fun and modern, try one of the glossy black patent-leather clutches or shoes currently in stores. “Patent always adds a little pop to an outfit,” Minkoff says. Plus, it’s relatively inexpensive.
Pictured: Rebecca Minkoff “Simone” clutch; $185
4 Don’t red lipstick
Don’t be scared off by its boldness—the truth is, red is one of the most universally wearable lipstick shades, and it’s a classic way to add both impact and femininity to your look. “In general, reds that are more blue-based are flattering on all skin tones, and they make your teeth look whiter to boot,” says James Boehmer, international lead makeup stylist for NARS Cosmetics. When shopping for one, trust your instincts. “Choosing a red lipstick is like choosing a great piece of jewelry—you should go for the one you’re immediately attracted to,” Boehmer says. If you’re really unsure, buy a shade that’s widely known to be universal; Boehmer recommends NARS Jungle Red, which “is neither too warm nor too cool.” Not ready to commit? Try on the look with a great drugstore pick like L’Oréal Colour Riche in True Red.
5 Modernize your manicure
Your nails may seem like minor details, but they say a lot about you. For example, oval-shaped tips painted with pale-pink polish are pretty, but a little predictable. Try this of-the-moment twist instead, and watch your nails suddenly spark attention: Instead of rounding off the tips, file them straight across and then round off just the corners, creating what manicurists call a “squoval” shape. When it comes to color, the chicest choices right now are warm brownish-beige shades, like Essie “Buy Me a Cameo.” Or, try one of the new palest-gray hues, such as OPI “Moon Over Mumbai,” which is soft and subtle, but still thoroughly modern.
6 Fake a salon blowout at home
You (or your mom) might have used Velcro rollers decades ago, and now they’re back in a big way. These classic styling tools are the easiest way to get the look of a professional blowout—without the $50 price tag. They’re also the perfect way to give hair oomph on days when you don’t wash it. Try misting dry hair with a little hairspray, dividing it into six to eight sections and rolling it onto self-grip rollers (medium ones if your hair is shoulder-length; large ones if your hair is longer). “Roll hair under, not over—you’ll create more volume this way,” Rhys advises. Hit your hair with a gentle stream of hot air from your blow dryer and let it cool while you do your makeup; then, unpin and gently finger-comb the sections together. “This is a fabulous way to get sexy hair with minimal effort,” Rhys says. If you don’t own a set of rollers, try the new versions that have an aluminum/ceramic core, which helps them hold heat for longer (We like Spornette’s Battalia Ceramic Thermal Rollers.)
7 Rediscover the pointy-toed shoe
The tapered toe fell out of fashion’s favor for a couple of seasons, but this season, it’s the shoe shape of choice. The reason pointy toes always seem to re-emerge on the scene? “There’s simply nothing as flattering to a woman’s leg than a pointed-toe pump,” explains New York–based shoe designer Donald J. Pliner. “A woman’s whole attitude seems to change when she’s wearing them.” That could be because of their unique ability to visually elongate the leg, especially when paired with wide-leg trousers or a sleek pencil skirt. To ensure that pointy shoes fit comfortably without pinching the toes, consider buying them a half size larger than your usual shoes, and look for a heel that’s under two inches. If you want to maximize the leg-lengthening effect, buy a pair in a color that’s close to your skin tone, like an ivory, beige, tan or brown hue.
8 Get your skin glowing
Foundation isn’t the most thrilling makeup topic, but it makes a huge difference to your overall look. To get the most flawless finish, take your application technique up a notch with Alcone Non-Latex Sponges ($2.50 for six). A favorite of makeup artists, the sponges smoothly blend color and create the illusion of a perfect complexion. “I can’t work without them,” says New York–based celebrity makeup artist Susan Giordano. “They never crumble, they’re washable, and the wedge shape makes it easy to get into corners,” like the inner zones of the eyes and crevices around the nostrils. Another trick makeup pros use to get clients’ skin red-carpet radiant? Add a couple of drops of skin luminizer to foundation (try Revlon Skinlights Instant Skin Brightener or Benefit High Beam); the subtle shimmer gives skin a youthful, dewy look, and by reflecting light, helps minimize the appearance of fine lines and other flaws.
9 Make peace with your closet
It’s not easy to part with items that have sentimental—or monetary—value. But if you only wear a fraction of the clothing in your closet, getting rid of the excess will help you rediscover classic items and determine what additions could take your wardrobe to the next level. Start by only pulling out items you’re sure you won’t wear again. Then, turn all the hangers in your closet so they’re facing in the same direction. Every time you wear an item, flip its hanger the other way. Got items you always say you’ll wear again someday? Make an effort to actually do so, and see if they still suit you. Resolve to remove any items that haven’t been worn by next New Year’s (those whose hangers remain un-flipped), and either donate them to charity, or in the case of expensive items, bring them to a consignment shop or post them for sale on eBay or Craigslist. You’ll find that having extra space in your closet encourages you to mix-and-match more, creating outfits that look brand new.
10 Play up your eyes in a whole new way
Deep-blue eye pencil is a great new alternative to basic brown and black—it’s just as subtle and versatile, but the blue undertones brighten the whites of your eyes, making you seem instantly less tired and more alert. Says Giordano, “This shade still has the depth of color you need to play up the shape of the eye but gives you a modern, sophisticated look.” Stick to navy or deep indigo hues, and smudge it subtly right into your lashline. “Steer clear of bright or baby blues, unless you want to look like you just stepped off The Love Boat,” Giordano advises. Try the Laura Mercier Kohl Eye Pencil in Navy, or Revlon ColorStay Eyeliner in Navy.
11 Get shiny, happy hair—instantly
Shiny, healthy hair makes your entire look seem more polished—and if yours doesn’t happen to be looking that way at the moment, don’t worry: There’s an easy way to fake it. Just call your salon and book an appointment for a glaze, a semi-permanent treatment that uses ingredients like silicone to smooth and shine each strand, without weighing hair down like shine-enhancing serums and sprays can. Or, to achieve a similar effect for less money, try one of the new at-home glossing treatments, like Frederic Fekkai Salon Glaze and John Frieda Luminous Color Glaze. These products are also designed to help enhance your hair color (especially helpful between dye sessions) and seal up hair’s dry tips to minimize the appearance of split ends between haircuts.