Thursday, February 29, 2024

Can you dress your way out of a broken heart?

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Breakups are difficult no matter what. Whether you ended it with them, you got brutally dumped, or even if it was a ‘conscious uncoupling’ à la Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin, the end of a relationship always requires adjustment.

What you wear during a breakup can make or break your mood, and I know this first-hand. After weeks of living in my pyjamas, crying and feeling sorry for myself, I’m finally on the mend and a wardrobe refresh has played a huge role in this.

According to personal stylist and image consultant Stefania Bartolomei, dressing up can help you to ‘rebuild the confidence you need to move forward’ after a breakup.

‘During difficult and emotional times, wearing outfits that make us feel and look good is extremely important,’ she says, adding that this can help us feel happier and more energised.

‘Would you rather look in the mirror and feel pitiful and even lower, or look at your reflection and think “get it, girl! You’re going to smash it”? I think you’d want to feel like you are in control and that you can make it through this tough time.’

Bartolomei’s number one rule: wearing lots of colour (aka dopamine dressing).

‘Colours, especially brighter shades and hues of yellow, orange, pink as well as some shades of green and blue, trigger positive neurological responses in the brain, creating feelings of happiness, pleasure, and reward,’ she says.

‘That’s why, historically, after times of crisis, we see bold colours taking over the runways. Even now after a pandemic and during a recession, if you look around, colour is ruling in fashion.’

So, here are some outfit ideas to help you navigate through the different stages of a break-up.

Comfort is key

Immediately after splitting up with someone (especially if it wasn’t your decision), you may experience physical symptoms of sleep and appetite changes due to increased levels of cortisol and adrenaline.

This is the time to take care of yourself, rest, and allow yourself to grieve.

‘I see breaking up as a mourning. After all, we’re saying goodbye to a relationship, to a routine, to something and someone familiar,’ says Bartolomei.

‘We need time for acceptance. I think therefore it’s allowed, and even necessary, to have a transitional time where we wear our most comfy clothes and stay indoors, in order to metabolise and accept our new situation.’

That’s right, you’ve got official permission to wallow in your softest undies, cosiest PJs and loungewear, and laze around in your favourite dressing gown. Just make sure they’re at least a little fun, though! 

Treat yourself

Retail therapy is a real thing. Well, it has worked for me anyway, and Bartolomei agrees that buying something new or having a wardrobe refresh is actually ‘therapeutic’.

I used the breakup as an excuse to splurge on a few extravagant items to help me see in my new single-girl era and they definitely picked up my mood.

Whether it’s a new pair of undies, some jewellery or some designer shoes, choose something that you’ll get wear out of and that will bring you joy.

Mini Icon metallic-woven shoulder bag from House of Sunny at Selfridge's

Whether it’s a new pair of undies , some jewellery or some designer shoes, choose something that you’ll get wear out of and that will bring you joy

Dress up for work

Workplace dress codes vary, but think about how you can level-up your regular outfits. Why not try a Wide Leather Belt from Arket

Workplace dress codes vary, but think about how you can level-up your regular outfits. Why not try a Wide Leather Belt from Arket

You probably spend most of your day-to-day life at work, so it’s important to switch up your work wardrobe and put a little extra thought into what you’re wearing to the office to brighten your mood.

Workplace dress codes vary, but think about how you can level-up your regular outfits.

For example, if you normally wear trainers and jeans, could you elevate this to some tailored trousers and loafers? What about wearing a printed midi dress and flats, or a silk midi skirt and knitwear? Don’t be afraid to add a little colour into the mix, either.

Girls’ night

Pictured: The slinky blue One Shoulder Mini Dress, perfect for a night out with the girls post-break-up

Pictured: The slinky blue One Shoulder Mini Dress, perfect for a night out with the girls post-break-up

Sometimes all you need is a night out with your besties, which you can enjoy in the Truffle Collection double platform sandals in green metallic at Asos

Sometimes all you need is a night out with your besties, which you can enjoy in the Truffle Collection double platform sandals in green metallic at Asos

Sometimes all you need is a night out with your besties, and that’s the perfect excuse to get dressed up to the nines. My go-to girls’ night outfit? A party dress, heels, and cute accessories, of course.

Revenge dressing

We all know that Princess Diana was the queen of revenge dressing, but it’s time to put your own spin on it.

The whole point of revenge dressing is supposedly to show your ex what they’re missing, but in reality, it’s more important to make yourself feel as amazing as possible.

‘For some people, this means wearing heels, sequins and fitted clothes, for others, trainers or combat boots and leggings,’ says Bartolemi.

‘It’s not what we wear, really, but how we wear our clothes that make a difference.

At the same time, having a consciousness about what works for us is key: from colours to fabrics, shapes and styles.’

The two together are a win-win combination.

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