(Note to readers: This entry has been updated as of June 2014 to account for the new Fitted Mesh starter avatars!)
If you have been in Second Life a while, or if you're a regular reader here, you can skip this one! This is a VERY short, basic tutorial on How to Change Your Appearance, for those who are new and confused about all those menu buttons and things.
You have a lot of "starter avatars" in your inventory. You can find
them by clicking the inventory button (with a symbol like a suitcase)
and opening the folder Library/Clothing/Initial Outfits.
change into any of these avatars by right clicking the folder for that avatar and
choosing Replace Outfit. Or drag the folder onto your avatar.
can open an avatar's folder and wear individual pieces of that outfit.
Right click a piece and choose Wear, or drag it onto your avatar.
detach clothing in one of two ways. If it is a clothing layer (symbol
of pants, or shirt, or jacket etc. in your inventory), right click your
avatar and choose Take Off/Clothing/<clothing type>. If it is an
attachment (symbol of a cube in your inventory), right click the item
and choose Detach.
If you Wear an item of clothing that's the
same type as what you have on, it will replace the current worn item.
Things that attach to the same point will replace an attached item on
that point. You can override these behaviors by using the function Add
instead of Wear.
You can also search for "WORN" items in your
inventory. They will appear in boldface, and have the word WORN in
their description. You can take off or detach them from there, too.
can alter your shape, if it is modifiable. Right click your avatar,
choose Appearance/Edit My Shape, and play with the many sliders. Don't
mess with the hair sliders, leave them at zero. Be sure to save your
changes with a new name. If you are not good at creating an attractive
shape, there are many freebie shapes, and ones for sale, out there.
are four "essential" pieces that everyone MUST wear at all times, to
define their avatar. You can't take these off, only replace them by
wearing a different item of the same type. These are shape, skin, eyes,
and system hair.
Most of your starter avatar skins have the
underwear permanently painted directly on the skin. You can't take it
off, but you CAN find a freebie nude skin and use that instead, or buy a
You can fine tune the position of an attachment that does not fit quite right. It helps to stand on a posing stand, so you don't move while doing this. Right click the attachment, select Edit. Use the colored positioning arrows to drag the attachment and change its position. Hold CTRL+SHIFT to change the arrows to a bounding box. Drag one of the corners of the box to change the object's size. USE SMALL MOVEMENTS! It's a good idea to make a safety copy of the object, in case you mess up. Use your camera controls, or hold the ALT key and the left mouse button to swing your camera around and check the fit from all sides.
Recently, Linden Lab added 24 new "starter avatars" to the Library, and they are also prominently featured as choices during the signup process. These new avatars are "Fitted Mesh." The ENTIRE AVATAR is a replacement for the "standard" avatar that you can adjust and dress as I've described above. This has both advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, these avatars look more "photorealistic" than the standard ones. On the minus side, while the Appearance sliders can modify their look somewhat, they don't have nearly the flexibility of the standard avatars, especially when it comes to fine details like facial features. Also, normal clothing items will not work with these avatars, nor will facial expressions that are a part of some gestures and animations.
You can tell if you are wearing one of these Fitted Mesh avatars by looking in your inventory, under Library\Clothing\Initial Outfits. All the mesh avatars have "(Mesh)" in the name of their folder.
My advice is, switch to one of the older, non-mesh avatars at least until you are familiar with how clothing layers and attachments work in Second Life. You will be much less confused and frustrated!