It's a new year, a chance for a new start, and what better way to face it than with a brand-new look?
While you may not be ready to commit to (or be able to afford) a full-fledged professional makeover, experts say, you can still recharge your spirits with a new look. And with simpler, more natural clothes and makeup in style, it won't break your budget.
"While you may be longing for an expensive head-to-toe makeover ... what you may really need is a makeunder -- a way of letting go of some dated, old-fashioned looks to let a more natural new you shine through," says Wendy Karcher, makeup artist for Make Up Forever, a professional line of cosmetic products.
The trick is to pare down your product inventory for a look that says "less is more."
"We've said goodbye to the metallics and the heavy makeup," says Karcher. "Now it's all about individual beauty."
Fashion expert Michele Weston agrees: "In the fashion world as well as in the beauty world, we are going towards more natural influences in 2006 -- that glittery, sparkly, sequin look of last year is going to be replaced with more natural elements like wooden beads and lots of shell decorations on clothes. The look is definitely more earth mother and less disco doll."
Makeup: Less Is More
Although many of the newest foundations and powders are lighter and more natural-looking, experts say you can achieve a similar look with items you already own -- just use them sparingly.
"Foundations no longer have to cover your whole face," says Karcher. "You should only use it on the areas where you have something to conceal."
The key to getting that natural look, she says, is to blend well, then skip the powder puff. Instead, use a brush to lightly dust your skin with loose powder.
"If you need to touch up during the day, never apply powder directly on top of powder," says Karcher. "Instead, use a blotting paper to remove excess oil, then touch up with pressed powder." This will keep you from developing a "pasty" look that is both aging and outdated.
When it comes to updating your eye makeup, leave the complicated four-color shadow kits in the drawer. The look going forward in 2006: A single color on the lid, one that is lighter and less intense than in recent years.
"The newest shades are brighter and fresher, like pale citrus greens, frosted sherbet colors, and crystal tints of pale aqua or coral," says Karcher.
To further soften your look, toss the heavy, voluminous mascara that gives you that clumpy "false lash" look. In its place: Long, sweeping lashes that are separated and well-defined. And, says Karcher, be sure to curl, curl, curl those lashes, using one coat of waterproof mascara to lock in the look.
"Putting water-based mascara on a curled lash is a little like spritzing water on curled hair -- it's going to cause it to droop," says Karcher. With a lower water content, waterproof mascara acts more like hairspray, keeping the curl in your lash longer.
For lips that look new, skip the sticky patent-leather glosses of 2005. Just line and fill in your lips with a natural-color pencil, then top with a pink-toned gloss that has a touch of shimmer.
To complement the look, Karcher says, change your cheek color to a warm watermelon pink. Pinkish blush promises to replace traditional bronzer as the way to add healthy color to skin in the upcoming season.
"If you can only change one thing on your face, change your blush," Karcher says. "I don't think women realize how much this one shot of color can do to give you a totally brand-new look."
Fashion: A Few Key Pieces
Who among us wouldn't love to start the New Year with a brand-new wardrobe? But who among us can afford it?
The good news: You can make over your wardrobe for 2006 by adding just a few key pieces (and tossing a few as well).
"One of the trendiest looks going forward into the New Year is fashions from the 1960s," says Weston, "but if you do the look from head to toe you'll just end up looking hopelessly out of date."
Instead, choose one vintage-inspired piece -- perhaps a soft, flowing baby-doll top, or a trapeze-style jacket -- to capture the essence of the trend. Pair it with something ultra-modern, like a slim pencil skirt or well-cut jeans.
"This will give your look a modern edge," Weston says.
What you definitely should tuck back into the closet as you head into the New Year: Sequins, rhinestones, metallic embroidery -- embellishments that were all the rage in 2005.
Taking their place are embellishment using natural elements, in matte -- not glittery -- colors.
"Embroidery is still in, embellished hemlines are more in than ever, beading and quilting [are] in, but the colors are softer, more muted, with a homespun look, while the embellishments are earth-toned and more natural -- shells, wooden beads, mother of pearl," says Weston. "Adding just one or two key pieces with these embellishments will instantly update your look."
If holiday spending has left you with little to spare, Weston says, the crafty among us can create the look for a pocketful of change.
What's also hot for 2006: Lots of lace! In fact, Weston says you can turn most any look from last year into this year's model simply by adding a lace-trimmed camisole top.
"Lace will continue as a strong trend in the coming year," she says. "It connects a lot of different looks and softens the lines of almost everything you wear."
Finally, for those of us who spent most of 2005 standing up in an effort to avoid the obvious hazards of sitting in trendy, low-cut jeans, pull up a chair and relax: Higher-cut jeans are on the way.
"We're working our way up towards a more natural waistline, so you can say goodbye to the really low-slung styles," says Weston.
Color Your New Year
While shape, style, and cut are key ingredients of any fashion trend, experts say, don't overlook the power of color to bring your look up to date.
"We may not notice that new little French cuff on your blouse, or the width of your pant leg, but we sure notice the color you are wearing because it's the first thing the eye sees when you walk in a room," says fashion stylist Roberta Hughes, president of Avidere, a professional image management and style company.
Tuck away those all-black outfits, Winston says, and mix up your separates with earthy naturals, using shades of brown, khaki, and ivory for basic pieces. Accent the look with muted watercolor prints, or geometric patterns with an ethnic look and feel.
To find which of these new colors looks best on you, Hughes says, look for tones that either mimic your natural coloring or complement it.
To find your personal colors: Have your picture taken in natural sunlight and blow it up to an 8x10 size. Then trot off to your local hardware store and head for the paint counter.
"What you want to do here is hold paint chips up next to your photo, and find the colors that make the picture pop," says Hughes. More than likely, she says, these will be your personal colors.
And if none of your personal colors happen to be in style this season? Wear them anyway, Hughes says. Keep them closest to your face, and use the trendier colors as accents in shoes, bags, jewelry, and belts.
Hang On to Personal Style
There's no question that 2006 will usher in a variety of new fashions. And incorporating a few of those trends can help keep your look fresh.
That said, the experts caution that we shouldn't get so caught up in trends that we lose sight of our personal style.
"Never wear anything just for the sake of the trend," Hughes says. "Always dress in whatever look is right for your body shape and your personal style. Good taste always transcends trends and always looks right."