Ease into a new look
Photo: Robert Trachtenberg

The Real Housewives of Orange County did it with the help of professionals in our November issue (left). If you're considering breaking out of your aesthetic comfort zone—whether it's all-black-all-the-time or red lipstick and a blunt-cut bob—the prospect feels much less daunting when you start small. Here's how:

1. Tweak your haircolor by two shades. No one will do a double take, but your hair will suddenly look brighter, fresher. A semipermanent dye (like Clairol Natural Instincts, $9) washes out over several weeks. Or just apply a gloss (such as John Frieda Luminous Color Glaze Clear Shine, $10) to add shine and tone down brassiness.

2. Add new colors to your wardrobe...slowly. You don't have to quit an earth tones habit cold turkey or trade all your pastels for more somber shades. Just dip a toe (or hand) into a fresh palette; put on one thing—like a pair of shoes or gloves—in a color you've never worn before.

3. Try a hairpiece. If you're thinking that actually sounds really scary—it's not. Hairstylist Ken Paves used clip-in hairpieces on almost all the women in the O.C. makeover  (one wore a wig), and we were amazed at the natural-looking results. Add extra length and body by clipping a fall under your own hair just beneath your crown. Want to experience bangs for a while? Try Paves' Hairdo Clip-In Fringe, $225, or Warren-Tricomi's How Do I Look in Bangs? hairpieces, $250.

4. Pick up a new bag. You don't actually have to wear it, just carry it. That's why a purse or tote that's a little funkier, or more conservative, than your usual look is a perfect gateway piece.

5. Get glimmery. A little sparkle, whether metallic shoes or a shimmery top, can give a lift to your look—even during daytime. (Just avoid bright color, a skintight silhouette, and brilliant shine all at once.)

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