By Tom Gliatto
January 26, 1998 12:00 PM

A NEW AND IMPROVED PAULA JONES—devoid of braces, with Victoria Principal hair (Dallas era) and a nice wardrobe of pantsuits—has emerged just in time for her legal battles with Bill Clinton. The metamorphosis began in August, when Jones, 31, who now lives in California, visited Beverly Hills hairstylist Daniel DiCriscio. “Paula said, ‘I’d like another perm,’ and I told her, ‘No!’ ” says DiCriscio. “She thought her hair looked good.” DiCriscio persuaded Jones to straighten the big, poodle-like do that got mentioned so snidely in coverage of her sexual harassment suit. “I said, ‘This is the ’90s. You really need a change.’ ”

Of course, the new look could help strategically too. Clinton—who, Jones claims, made advances toward her in 1991, when he was governor of Arkansas and she a state employee—is not only President. “He’s a charismatic individual who generally dresses appropriately,” says Jo-Elian Dimitrius, a professional jury consultant. Jones, meanwhile, “had that Las Vegas look,” comments Valerie Sarnelle, who owns Valerie Beverly Hills, a makeup boutique. That’s less than ideal for a woman seeking victory in court (a trial is set for May 27 in Little Rock) and freedom from Jay Leno (“Clinton is in basically good health, although his eyes are starting to go, which could explain the whole Paula Jones thing”). Says famed feminist attorney Gloria Allred: “I advise [clients] to dress as though going to church or synagogue.”

Or a face-to-face with the President. By the time Jones appeared last week with her adviser, wealthy conservative Susan Carpenter-McMillan, to say that she would attend Clinton’s deposition, scheduled for Jan. 17, her hair had been straightened and lightened, and her makeup and wardrobe dialed down to neutral or earth tones. DiCriscio, who oversaw the makeover, calls the look “glamorous, classy.”

Technically, Clinton shouldn’t notice any difference: He claims he doesn’t remember meeting her and denies ever harassing her. (Her latest settlement demand was for $2 million, plus an apology.) Still, according to Carpenter-McMillan, who recently spent $1,000 to buy her friend three Jones New York pantsuits, plus shoes and accessories, Jones is thrilled with her look. “She’s more beautiful now,” says the strategist. “We women are always trying to improve ourselves.”