A Breakup Makeover Is a *Real Thing*, and I Went on a Shopping Spree to Prove It

Photo: Getty Images/STEEX

In the movies, a makeover montage is all it takes to un-eff-up your life. Somehow, stepping into a changing room and awkwardly fumbling into cute little outfits turns you into a Confidence Queen (capital letters). Cue Roy Orbison’s “Pretty Woman,” cue Jill Sobule’s “Supermodel.”

In real life, though, when you find yourself at the lowest point of your personal rom-com, fixing things isn't as simple as buying a new outfit or changing your hair. Last month, everything from my living situation to my well-planned marriage timeline shattered when my boyfriend broke up with me, and I'm currently being pushed to evolve and adapt in ways that—big secret—I don't wanna. I have a paralyzing fear of change that makes me inherently averse to doing things like wearing a crop top or getting a pixie cut.

And so when a friend with Big Cher (Horowitz) Energy sent me to TJ Maxx's The Changing Room for a movie-style makeover in the midst of a the-floor-fell-out-from-under-me moment, the whole thing seemed scary AF. With The Changing Room, TJ Maxx is hitting the road with stylist Africa Miranda and Life Coach Danika Brysha to give one-on-one sessions to women across the country in order to help them embrace change and show their individuality. In other words, what Cher and Dionne did for Tai around the one-hour mark in Clueless. 

Stepping into the Changing Room with Miranda, I was quickly advised that embracing change isn't about needing to go 180 with my look; ultimately, clothing is just clothing, and we should try not to "give it any more weight than it deserves." Instead, when you're working on a self-update, Miranda says to focus more on what story you want to tell, because "the clothes are just here to facilitate an experience."

After a quick look at my Instagram feed to get a sense of my aesthetic, Miranda selected some closet staples for me, and I instantly cuddled up to a faux fur white coat that gave me Live Through This-era vibes. She also set me up with hot pink corduroy pants, a cozy, cropped striped sweater, a pleather-y black mini-skirt and the most delicious black beaded sheer-sleeved Free People dress. (Confession: I dorked out a bit.)

But we're not just improving our style, Tai, we're trying to improve our minds and soulS. That's where life coach Brysha came in, and assured me that embracing change doesn't mean you need to reinvent your entire life in the face of challenge—it can be far, far simpler than that. "What we have to do is reverse back and do really tiny things that are nearly foolproof, so that we can come from a place of empowerment," she says. 

To that end, she helped me create a two-minute routine based on two "feeling words" I want to embody: confident and secure. To be more confident, Brysha tells me to put on my red lipstick, or throw on a (fluffy, white) coat that makes me feel badass, or even just write "confident" down in a notebook. To be more secure, she tells me to look at my bank account every day to help track all my bills, rent payments, and every-other-day coffee runs.

"When we do these small changes, what happens is it shifts our brain," Brysha says. "Then we go into the world all day, and we make choices as a confident person."

Maybe the key word there is “small.” The fantastical thing about those movie makeovers is this idea that, thanks to a new mini dress and a pair of boots, you emerge a whole new person. It's not that, though. When we decide to change, we're not trying to find another person in the mirror—we're actually working more on the mirror inside (cue the Christina Aguilera), and getting it to reflect the people we want to be. Because in order to evolve in a successful, realistic, healthy way, staying true to yourself is paramount... The rest of it is just accessorizing.

Looking to refresh your go-to pair of leggings? Here's a few unconventional ways to style them. And here's how being single transformed one writer's personal style for the better.

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