In Makeover Diaries, women tell the stories of their real-life beauty transformations. This week, Kayla Cagan, a playwright based in L.A., realized she was unhappy with her muddled, day-to-day look and invented the Casual Bombshell, a new style all her own.

From generic gal to Casual Bombshell. Photos: Courtesy of Kayla Cagan

I moved to California three years ago. And as I packed my clothes to move across the country, I realized I wasn't happy with my wardrobe. I always bought whatever was on sale, without intention or editorial sense. My hair didn't do "cool things", so I never tried new cuts. And my makeup? Freebies from department store counters.

I wanted to be sexy. I wanted to be modern. I wanted to be fresh. I also wanted to be covered. I wanted to be chic. I wanted to look arty and smart. With the move, it seemed like the perfect time to take a chance on myself and my style.

I started slow. I watched a lot of "What Not to Wear" and "Project Runway" for ideas and inspiration. I read Vogue, as I had for years, but now I really paid attention to the photos, and not just the articles. I followed Lucky Magazine, just to see what they were recommending that was on trend. And then Lucky Magazine came out with it's first book, "The Lucky Shopping Manual: Building and Improving Your Wardrobe Piece by Piece," (and I swear this isn't as advertisement), but it gave me a guide to investing in some wardrobe basics. And I kept it bedside for a couple of years, consulting it whenever I was having a dressing crisis. And then the next Lucky Magazine book came out, "The Lucky Guide to Mastering Any Style: How to Wear Iconic Looks and Make them Your Own."

That's when I had my style wake-up call. I mixed a few iconic images together and came up with a look to call my own: Casual Bombshell. Casual was a nod to L.A., Bombshell was a nod to the old-fashioned sexiness I was aiming for. And to make this look happen, I started from the head down.

I started having my hair colored at the Aveda School in Los Angeles. Schools are a safe place to experiment with streaks and shades and see what works best for you without spending a ton of dough. The secret to my tress success is found there, and I will remain a loyal customer.

I gave my face a mini-makeover as well. I used to only wear basic browns and beiges, and Chapstick with a little gloss. I wanted to look natural, but I actually looked flat and washed-out.
I began purchasing makeup with a higher pigment and mineral content, like Urban Decay eyeliners and Benefit lip stains. I play with shades that add more definition, which usually means more saturated, bolder colors. Smashbox and Urban Decay purple and violet eyeliners are worn in the afternoon, not just evening. I darken my eyebrows with Anastasia's caramel eyebrow wand brush. And if I'm going light on the eyes, I definitely do a rich lip -- anything in the pure red or purple-red family. The bombshell look does require "putting your face on," but I have it down to five minutes for a casual cover, and ten minutes for a formal face.

Shopping, which has now become a challenge to find discount items that really fit into my design scheme, has also become more fun. I look for the bombshell staples -- fitted Capri pants or dark denim, fitted dresses (anything fitted around the waist is aces!), and tops that accentuate my curvy assets. With shoes, I have a ton of choices, from sexy flats to vampy thick heels. This Casual Bombshell saves tennis shoes for the gym only!

Then the compliments started coming. People started noticing that I had changed, and suddenly I was being told I had great style and looked trimmer- an unexpected plus! One of my friends said, "You're doing that '50s thing so well," and another friend said, "You always looks so put together."

And the truth is, I do feel more put together now. I feel like the best presentation of me that I can give, not just to the world, but to myself. And I can't wait to see how my style keeps evolving. It's a great feeling to wake up everyday and know that in a world full of chaos, at least my wardrobe is a world of peaceful pieces. By defining my sense of self, I have defined my style. It was as simple as putting on one shoe after the other.

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