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The Mini Makeover: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Stepping It Up a Notch

Giving your life and your look a little polish is never a bad idea when you’re in the dating world. Potential mates are looking for visual cues to learn more about you—remember, new dates don’t have a lot to go on, so a drab wardrobe, cluttered apartment or outdated hairstyle may lead them to the conclusion you’re shabby, sloppy or stuck in another decade. Don’t let them be right! Stepping it up a notch isn’t a big a project as you might think; here are some basics that will help you up to date for your next…well, date.

Step 1: Face First

Take a long hard look in the mirror. Chances are, you know what your best facial features are, but you may not know how to play them up. Grooming gurus will tell you that shapely eyebrows can have a transformative effect on your whole face, so if yours have gotten a little bushy, brave the waxing salon or at least purchase a good pair of tweezers—the effect is instantaneous and can really bring out your bone structure. One warning: the pencil-thin brows that ruled the 90s are no better than an overgrown uni, so if you can budget it, leave your brow shape in the hands of a professional, at least at first.

Going for a professional makeup session to learn a few tricks is also a worthwhile investment, but if you’re pinching pennies ask a close and honest friend for her opinion on your cosmetic habits. They may be hard truths, but friend or family member with your best interests at heart can gently tell you you’re wearing way too much blush, your foundation doesn’t match your face, or that clumpy navy mascara is just not working.

Step 2: A Hairy Situation

Now that you’ve gotten to know your face, a quick web search can tell you what hairstyle will work best; a long face framed by a bob or shoulder-length style is a winning combination. If you have a rounder face, keep it long or grow it out, but ask your hair stylist to give it some shape. A few well-placed layers are low-maintenance and stylish.

Give some thought to color as well; there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a salt-and-pepper or whiter quaff—embrace the gray! But if you do choose to color over gray, upkeep is imperative to avoid the dreaded skunk stripe. A stylist can advise you on color if you’re looking for a change; your skin tone can inform what hue will really make you glow. Once you’ve got your new do and basked in the oohs and ahs of friends, coworkers and family, take five minutes before your next date to implement some styling tips from your trim session. A quick blow-dry or a little bit of texturizer will maintain that fresh-from-salon quality.

Step 3: Ransack Your Closet

That’s right; pull everything out of every drawer and off of every hanger. Your bedroom should look like it’s been burgled. Then sort your wardrobe into piles. Anything that’s worn out its welcome should be tossed without ceremony. Check all your shirts and chuck anything with a yellowed armpit, no matter how comfortable or sentimental it is. Worn jeans can be chic, within reason, but if the hems are worn to tatters say a tearful goodbye, or if you just can’t part with them, get out the scissors and make yourself a new favorite pair of cutoffs.

Then pile up anything you haven’t worn in the last few months and ask yourself why. Maybe it just doesn’t fit right or you feel too exposed in it. Perhaps you thought you would wear those high-waisted bellbottoms but it turns out you just feel too goofy in them. Then face the fact that these pieces are squatters you’ll probably never wear, and invite your friends over to enjoy the spoils of your unscrupulous purchases or donate them to a local charity. Big-ticket items can probably be sold to a consignment shop. Now take an inventory of what’s left and see what’s missing. You should have at least a couple pair of jeans that fit well, some basics like T-shirts and button-fronts, a few day-to-night looks and some special occasion looks. On top of that, the on-the-market gal should have a few signature pieces that really showcase her body shape.

Need help filling in the gaps? Check out MyShape on our Date Planner page and complete a profile for a free Personal Shop customized to your style, shape and measurements—you’ll even see styled-for-you outfits so you can get a head-to-toe look you’ll feel confident in.

Step 4: Home Is Where the Heart Is

If you can’t even see the floor in your abode, it’s time to have a talk with yourself. The first time you invite a romantic interest over, he’s going to take a look around and see how you keep your quarters. If they’re filthy, he may rule you out before you get out of the gate as someone he could never cohabit with. If you’re just not Martha Stewart, focus your attention on keeping two areas pristine: the bathroom and the kitchen.

These are where the germs live and you could project a real ick factor if you’ve got last week’s spaghetti dried to the counter or a sink full of hair. If a little bit of clutter is just part of your package, you don’t need to scrub your place top to bottom, but make sure your unmentionables are tucked away and your fridge is free from months-old produce.

Even if your schedule is positively crammed and housekeeping has to get de-prioritized at times, just taking ten minutes a day to take out recycling, wipe down the counters, go through that pile of mail and what have you will keep things under control so all you’ll need to prep for entertaining a date is a quick tidy. If you’re a pet owner make sure Whiskers’ litter box is cleaned, or take a vacuum to a couch covered in dog hair—this will help with the introduction of your date to your best furry friend.

Getting yourself up to snuff in these four areas is all it takes to go from a lady who’s let herself go a bit to a date-worthy diva. The real bonus? If you’ve let your self-esteem lag along with your look, you’ll enjoy a well-deserved confidence boost from your new look and lifestyle that potential dates will sense immediately.

Don’t forget to check the Date Planner to discover a secret style weapon: a Personal Shop created just for you. Like your own free personal shopper, you’ll be matched to clothing chosen to fit you, flatter your figure and floor him.