Kate Moss is right. Dressing like a wife is just a quick way to lose your husband
21:55 GMT, 13 June 2012
23:41 GMT, 13 June 2012
Kate Moss and I don’t have much in common, but I think she is quite right to avoid dressing ‘like a wife’.
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Rock chic: Kate Moss with her husband Jamie Hince
This is a routine my mother passed onto me — and one for which I’m very grateful. A professional woman with a busy life, she never came down to dinner without changing into a long skirt and heels.
I remember the scent of her exotic perfume and the sense of glamour she brought to the family dinner table.
One thing she taught me is that marriage is all about effort. On top of a demanding job as an interpreter, she exercised daily, went to the hairdresser weekly, dressed meticulously and had an active interest in the world.
She appealed to men wherever she went — which kept my father in line.
‘Men are like dogs,’ my godmother told me. ‘If they think someone else wants their bone, they guard it fiercely.’
My mother never said as much to me, but she knew that an interested husband (whose friends fancy you) is usually a loyal one.
When Kate Moss laughs about not dressing ‘like a wife’, she’s talking about staying as sexy to her husband Jamie Hince as she was before they tied the knot.
It is early days for them, admittedly — they have been married for only a year; let’s see how much effort she makes in ten — but the message is the same.
And this is not an anti-feminist Fifties attitude. We do not have to be whores in the bedroom, as Jerry Hall once said (though men who get enough sex at home seldom complain or stray), but we should make an effort for the person we love.
‘Marriage is about mutual respect,’ a male friend told me after hearing Ms Moss’s comments. ‘When someone can’t be bothered to put on nice clothes for you, it’s saying they can’t be bothered with you.’
Many married couples — including Nick Clegg and his glamorous wife Miriam — have a ‘date night’ once a month. This encourages them both to make an effort, because if you are going to a restaurant, you dress up.
But being at home is no excuse to let standards slide. When my children were younger, my husband and I made the effort to have dinner together every night.
Making the effort for her man: Helen Kirwan-Taylor
It was punishing because he didn’t get home from work until 9pm or 10pm, but it’s a pattern that we maintain to this day.
Every morning I resist the temptation to simply stay in my pyjamas — such slobbishness is one of the downsides of working from home — and instead put on lipstick and decent, fitted clothes.
For it is the very act of grooming that reminds me I am a woman — and hopefully an attractive one. And before my husband gets home, if I am feeling unkempt, I change again.
He is not a difficult or demanding man — quite the contrary — but he has high standards and would never look scruffy at dinner.
I put on one of my favourite silk slip dresses. We light candles and talk.
I’m sure slobbish women will ask ‘Who has the time’, but it takes me just three minutes to change outfits.
But divorcing because you’ve let yourself go and your husband no longer fancies you — and instead is attracted to someone who has maintained her appearance — now that takes real time.
Many will also ask: why bother with this superficial stuff In maintaining your weight, getting your highlights done, wearing flattering, stylish clothes (and sexy underwear, too, at the risk of annoying all those women wedded to their comfortable, yet deeply unalluring, Bridget Jones knickers), you are sending a message to your husband and the world that you are worth caring about.
People really do appreciate the effort, even strangers. I love the women who wear a slick of lipstick while doing their shopping at Waitrose.
But while the French dress well for everyone — themselves, their husbands, their neighbours, their children, there is a type of British woman who has simply given up. She may have once been edgy, a bit boho, waifish: now she thinks she’s too old to be cute and simply looks frumpy or, in Kate Moss’s words, ‘wifely’.
She starts to feel ashamed of her own appearance and so tries even less. She assumes she is not fanciable any more and stops trying altogether.
Going to a proper hair stylist seems extravagant, as does a shopping trip to London’s Oxford Street.
Pretty soon the couple begin to look mismatched. He is still engaged in the world and is well-dressed because his job demands a certain level of sartorial care.
She gave up work when she had children and boasts a wardrobe that screams practicality rather than passion.
The sad truth is that she no longer reflects well on him. He looks — and this may sound catty, but it is true — as though he might be looking elsewhere.
The divorce rate is rising, and I’m certain that this is linked to the fact that dressing shabbily is almost a badge of honour here, that being seen to make an effort is somehow ‘naff’.
Male friends have even admitted to me that they no longer fancy their wives because the women have let themselves go.
One thing I can promise you: no mistress would be caught dead with chipped nails and unwashed hair. If anything, we should all take a take a leaf from their book.
One of my girlfriend’s husband had an affair and thought of leaving her for the other woman, but then came back to her.
My friend now never dresses in anything other than stilettos and tight frocks. She says it works wonders. This is exactly what Kate Moss is talking about.
A woman’s appearance is the most effective weapon in her arsenal — her brains and personality count too, of course, but looks matter more to men, no matter what they might claim.
A well-dressed woman reflects well on a man. On the other hand, a frumpy, dishevelled woman whose highlights have been growing out for six months hints at an unhappy marriage.
It suggests: ‘My husband couldn’t care less what I look like — and never looks at me anyway.’
Not all women are born naturally beautiful, but the wonderful thing about clothes is that they make up for it.
We dress up when we meet our girlfriends, when we go out for dinner, to church or the theatre, so why shouldn’t we dress up when we see our husband in the evening
After all, marriage is the most significant long-term relationship most of us will ever have — our children head off to university at 18, leaving you staring at each other over dinner, so hopefully something remains between you.
And there is an unexpected upside to being well turned out: the more effort I make, the more my husband does.
If I go on a diet, he does, too. If I go to the gym, he starts cycling (he is competitive).
When he comes home from work and I am dressed up in heels and my best jewellery, he stays in his smart suit. We matched up for a reason: the trick is to remain that way.