Thank you for this, Claireshen, its encouraging and accurate! I have returned to SL after a long while, and in my case, taking some time to adjust to (and comprehend) the changes in everything SL is one thing that's kept me on track. For example, the avi options seem endless but what I needed to do is stay focused on what look I wanted to acheive for my goto Avi appearance. While shopping for the things I love most in fashion and accessories -- noticing what the designers were offering for various avatar shapes has made a huge difference. Choosing to invest in an Avatar shape and head that would have a lot of options instead of narrow ones is important to me.
If its useful to other newcomers, as I write this its been 3 months since I've returned. I've bought two parcels and am almost done setting up my home to a level I am thrilled with. The avatar body issue has loomed over me, and though I've felt that way, trying to grasp the tech advances and not rush into a solution has been the true challenge. In this time, I have gotten two free Altamura avatars - Jenny and Emmanuelle. I love their realism and understand that Matreiya clothes seem to suit them and they're compatible with 3 Slink feet heights, but for me, the body type is a little different than what I want and am really sure Slink Physique is my best option.
So, here's what I'm doing: my first avatar after leaving the Caledon Oxbridge Gateway and shopping in New London -- was finding an avi to get out of the system female one. I found Bea in the MP, who is pretty excellent and I've come to love her look with different eyes from EarthStones. She is more wonderful than she looks in the MP and her details are stunning, especially for L$149. Not needing to change her makeup is almost weird but I think the look is more than generic and looks great every day and night in so many different outfits. The creator, ApolloBlue, has several others -- i like Naomi and Channel too though I have not tried them (more on Bea a little later!) https://marketplace.secondlife.com/p/BEA-Complete-avatar-NEW/6788173?page=1
Wearing Bea and searching for a great avatar brings me to Slink Physique. It's what I have decided on and using the demo, I feel its a great choice for me and will support my clothing and shoes options. In fact, one thing I have learned from the forums, friends and shop owners -- is to try demos, always. At first I thought that was unecessary but now I get it. Not only do demos avoid purchase mistakes but they've taught me what's possible. Trying them out patiently gives me a different 3D perspective of how to dress and wear my avi, and I won't be rushing though that any longer. Also, use the alphas, adding them instead of wearing them is important and don't forget hairbases. Most everything that looks great on my avi :bento hair, jewelry, boots, body/face lights and AOs run scripts and I am running reasonably decent with regards to my Avatar Complexity numbers.
For example, Bento hair. Until I spent some time with it, the idea of bento hair sounded like tech talk but now I've taken my appearance to a higher level by going with bento. I regret not trying bento sooner but its ok, and the effects are amazing. Here are two L$1 hair styles I recommend that include so many colors in both tints and soft textures by Vallani. The 3 HUDs allow for many settings, and after color, you can choose movements which I really love and am having great fun with - ! The first 2 I tried, at L$1, are Annika and Ellie. Both Bento and Fitted versions are included (at L$1 who can pass that up?) https://marketplace.secondlife.com/p/VALLANI-Annika-Hair-Bento-Animated/12622752
During this time the most difficult thing has been, and to the the topic of this discussion, feet. If for no other reason, feet, shoes, sizes, pedicures and fit are all great reasons to buy into full mesh bodies. I don't know anyone in RL/SL who can get by without shoes that fit on bodies that are realistic. So, the idea for me has been to find a system that will give me what I want overall, toes to head. In the meantime, I picked up a few things to get by with and was mindful not to pay for any footwear or accessories that wouldn't work with an Altamura or Slink body later. Here's a pack of cool boots that have worked with leather pants, jeans and skirts. They're not the sexiest look, but are amazing in detail and are and fit wonderfully so I bought them in both the colors and naturals packs and am using them right now in their non-rigged versions, L$499/ea (demos available) https://marketplace.secondlife.com/p/Boots-60s-Knee-High-Leather-NATURALS/10388095
Another tip, don't throw alphas, notecards or other goodies away unless you've read or tried them. They can either be needed later to re-read or used with other outfits. Inside a lot of demos are little extras so take a close look before deleting. Here's an example. I tried out a costly evening look from Ally Adventure and tucked inside are these little gems. I already had several face and body lights but with this set I discovered super useful and gorgeous ones. The facelights have two different options, one for day and the other for night, I have found these to be beautiful and also useful in photography. Here's a link to pick the package up for L$1 https://marketplace.secondlife.com/p/AllyAdventure-Color-Body-Lights-with-Directed-Light-Effect/6740006
And back to my progress with all of this learning and how much I love Bea, using her I tried Altamura's Jenny and the Slink Physique demo. Bea looks wondeful with either but for the shape and overall effect my choice is Slink Physique. The Physique bundle is L$2,750 including dynamic hands and 5 deluxe feet // flat, kitten, mid, high & pointe. Hands alone are $875 and $2,475 for all 5 feet separately so the hand and costing L$3,350 doesn't make sense when I can pick up the entire bundle for L$2,750. The HUD is smooth and recently redesigned. I will need to explore CoolVL, Kokua and the Catznip viewers because my viewer of choice, Firestorm, hasn't released their BOM version yet. All in all, the Slink enhancements will take me to the best possible level I am wanting and she's going too look very good. Plus, I can find mostly any clothes and accessories I want for realistic uses, plus RP and fantasy.
I hope some of this information is useful to other newcomers and maybe everyone else can pick up a few deals too.
I am enjoying my SL, I hope everyone else is too ❥