One of the things I’m asked most often is for a makeover, either for the person doing the asking, or their friend or partner. I’ve even had people offer to pay me to be their style consultant, and while it’s flattering to think they rate my styling ability highly enough to be willing to hire me for that, it’s just not something I can or will do.

I literally don’t have the time to offer makeovers. Something like that can take hours. It’s time-consuming enough to come up with outfits and styles for myself, but throw in working with someone else – often someone who may be unfamiliar with customising a mesh avatar – and you’re not just looking at a styling session; you’re looking at a full SL Mesh Avatar 101. And that, my sartorial darlings, is why I don’t do makeovers.

When I gently turn down a request of that ilk, I’m often then asked if I know of anyone else who does makeovers. To that, I always reply: “With regard to stylists, I’m afraid that I don’t personally know of any. The only stylist agency that I was aware of previously has closed its doors, and while there are stylists out there, I have no experience of them and therefore cannot recommend them.”

Instead, I offer this blog and my Flickr (linked in the blog’s sidebar), as well as a few words of advice, as follows:

01. Learn to style yourself

It’s infinitely preferable to learn how to style your own avatar, if at all possible. You know what you like, and you’ll have more luck working out your own style than you will trying to convey it to someone else.

In addition, never buy anything without demoing it first. Demos are always free and should be fully-featured (they’ll just have some visible ‘defacement’ so that you don’t just walk around wearing only demos) so you can try things out to your heart’s content without needing to shell out L$ upfront. The mantra here is “No demo? No sale.”

02. Why you should learn to style yourself

If you can figure out stuff yourself, then you’ll be in a far better position to fix things if/when they do go wrong. Having someone else set you up is a recipe for disaster, as if/when stuff goes wrong (which it invariably will at some point!) or if you need to update something, you’ll either need to get back in touch with that person (who may not be willing to help, may have moved on, or may have left SL altogether) or try to find someone else to help you out.

03. If you really, truly, honestly don’t want to style yourself…

If you really don’t want to figure it out yourself, then – if you find someone else to give you that makeover – ensure that they agree upfront to write out tutorial notecards explaining how they put your avatar together. A list of everything they used, a folder of LMs to the relevant stores, a brief guide to using the HUDs for head and body, links to the creators’ support groups, etc; in short, everything you would need to put yourself back together in the event that they left SL or didn’t want to help again, or you just need help and they’re not available. These notecards should be handed to you as part of the final payment (never pay for everything upfront; always agree something like a half upfront/half on completion agreement at minimum).

I can’t stress this point enough. We help a lot of people in the Catwa support group who have had someone else put their avatar together for them, and who have no clue what that person did to get them set up, and who are consequently completely lost when it comes to knowing how to fix things.

And NEVER give someone access to your account so they can log in and make you over themselves.

04. It’s your avatar and you’re the one who’ll be living in it

Lastly, ensure that you find a stylist who will listen to you and help you to achieve the look that you want, rather than imposing their own idea of what you should look like onto you. By all means, listen to their advice, but this is your avatar that you’re putting together, not theirs.