"I just bought a new outfit!"
"Wow, it's very cute...looks great on you! Have you made an Outfit of it yet?"
"Uh...what do you mean? It IS an outfit...isn't it?"
No, not quite. In Second Life, there is a distinction between an outfit and an Outfit (besides the capitalization, I mean.) In today's post, we're talking about the capital letter Outfits!
But before we can do that, we need to talk about the thing that makes Outfits possible...Links. A Link is your inventory's equivalent of a Windows shortcut, or the link to a media file in a Windows Library. Links are not objects, they are pointers to objects. When you right click something in your inventory and copy it, you are given the option to Paste it (unless it is a No Copy object) or Paste As Link. The second option creates a Link, a pointer to the object in your inventory.
This is a huge advantage in inventory organization. Without Links, No Copy objects could only be accessed from one place in your inventory, and if you moved those diamond earrings from your Jewelry folder to be in the folder with your favorite gown, they would no longer be in Jewelry when you next looked for them there. But, by creating a Link to the earrings and putting that into the folder with your gown, you can easily find the earrings when you wear that gown, and also in Jewelry when you want to wear them with something else. One caution: You can always safely delete a Link. But, if you try to delete the object that the Link points to, you will first get a warning message. If you continue and delete it, any Links to that object will be "broken". They will continue to exist, but they can no longer find their parent object. You might want to search for (broken) now and then and clean up any of these in your inventory.
Now that we understand Links, we can go on to our main topic, Outfits. An Outfit is a "complete avatar" look. It can contain every part of your look -- your skin, shape, hair, eyes, clothing, shoes, attachments and HUDs. Outfits are stored in their own system-level inventory folder called, appropriately enough, Outfits.
The great benefit of Outfits is that, once you have created a look you love, you can save it as an Outfit. Then the next time you want that look, you can put it on with two mouse clicks. Just right click the folder for that Outfit, and choose "Replace Current Outfit" from the context menu... or drag the Outfit folder from your inventory and drop it on your avatar.
To make an Outfit, first assemble your look. Be sure to pay attention to every part of the look -- skin, shape, hair, makeup tattoos, prim fingernails, eyelashes, shoes, lingerie, clothing, and jewelry. If any of the things you wear has a HUD (your shoes, for example), leave the HUD on screen and save it with the Outfit. That way, if you have changed the color of something since the last time you wore it with this particular Outfit, it will be easy to change it back.
Once you are sure you have gotten your look totally together, right click yourself and select Appearance/Edit Outfit. An Outfit window will open up, showing you all the things you are wearing or have attached. Check one more time to be sure you have all the things you want, and nothing that you don't want. Then, at the bottom of the window, expand the Save button and choose Save As. A small window will open up, allowing you to give the Outfit a unique name. Do so, then click OK. Now you can detach any adjustment HUDs and go meet your friends. Be ready to graciously accept compliments on your new Outfit!