LIZ JONES FASHION THERAPY: Sorry, Katie, post-split makeovers make you look cheap
07:38 GMT, 9 July 2012
Classic, isn’t it Katie Holmes files for divorce and abandons her uniform of the past few years — awful mummy jeans, no make-up and ballet pumps — and slips into a pair of high heels, tossing her newly conker-shiny hair over her aerobicised, milky shoulder.
I feel a bit sorry for Tom Cruise: dumped on his 50th birthday; ridiculed for being so short; questions raised about whether or not his career will suffer because of his abandonment.
Far from applauding Katie, I always question the woman who the moment her marriage shatters, suddenly looks so much more gorgeous.
All change: Katie's swapped mumsy (left0 for glamorous (right)
Take Cheryl Cole, who never seemed to puff up despite the tears or be spotted shuffling to the newsagent in her pyjamas with Maltesers stuck in her hair. There is something sinister about a woman who does not, for a few months at least, let herself go a bit.
When your marriage breaks up, you are supposed to look dreadful, to mourn. You need time when you are not putting yourself out there in order to reflect and learn.
I know I did. I spent about a year not washing my hair, having leg waxes or even undressing before I fell into bed. This is all part of the process, surely To do otherwise is too Stepford Wife, unfeeling and robotic. To me, Katie is signalling her availability, not her independence.
My time of being hairy and smelly was healing. It was a relief, after so many years of frantic tweezering, to just let it all hang out for a while.
Uninterested and too distrustful to even think about finding a new man, I could regroup, figure out what was important in my life and which direction I wanted to go.
My advice is to not buy any new clothes for at least a year: you will only make a dreadful mistake. After her husband left her for someone younger, a friend bought a dress by Mary Katrantzou, which she could ill afford. She is broke and resembles a lampshade.
Another friend immediately embarked on a diet to lose the weight she had piled on after having four children: she bumped into her former husband at a cousin’s wedding and he said: ‘You look tired. Like a deflated tyre.’
After a year, you will emerge a slightly different person and then will be able to dress and behave accordingly without fear of ridicule.
In my marriage, I was so downtrodden, so starved of compliments, that all I ever wore was Helmut Lang trouser suits, boyish Hanro vests, flats (my husband, like Cruise, was short), white shirts and tracksuit bottoms, even in bed.
Now, when I go out in the evening, I always wear dresses: not short ones, but strapless, and body con. I wear sexy pencil skirts, killer heels and lace underwear.
But it took me an awfully long time to get here. To hurry into heels is disrespectful, I think, to what you had together; to what you might have in the future . . .
After a break-up, you should . . .
Cut up your credit cards to avoid costly mistakes. It’s tempting to go out and buy a new outfit or pair of shoes, but remember any new man in your life will not have seen what you have in your wardrobe already.Throw out photos, old birthday cards, notes and poems. You don’t want to keep looking back on your relationship fondly. I had a big bonfire of my husband’s missives, including a note that read: ‘Lizzie, please don’t dump me.’Get rid of his clothes, books and toiletries. Oh, the space in your pristine, fragrant bathroom once you have ejected all the rusty half-empty supermarket own-brand tins. Oh, the joy at no longer having in your Italian wardrobe mismatched pairs of worn Adidas socks, Gap pants and nylon football shirts that always showed his man boobs. Continue to brush your teeth, floss and tongue scrub before bed. All important to your sanity and self-esteem. Remember, you might need those teeth in later life.After a year, let him know you have moved on and are happier/more beautiful/more loved up/richer than ever before. Not always easy, but you can always lie. I once paid to have a photo of me airbrushed before I put it on Facebook; I was miffed to find it was futile, as he had unfriended me. I now have to bribe my nephew, still his FB friend, to let me spy on him (I know I have broken my own rule, see below, but I couldn’t resist).Continue with the Brazilian, underarm wax, threading, eyelash extensions, tanning, tweezering, tinting and gel pedicures. You might want to perform these ablutions every couple of months, though, instead of fortnightly.I spent about a year not exfoliating, but this means you are never open to the possibility of meeting someone else. A brief holiday from hygiene can be comforting, but if it seeps into two years, you need to book yourself into the Priory.
And shouldn’t . . .
Cut or change the colour of your hair for at least a year. You need to make only small, reversible changes, not drastic ones. I cut all my hair off, and then realised I resembled not Monica Bellucci, but Thora Hird.Have plastic surgery. This implies you did something wrong and weren’t good enough. The truth is often far from that.Take up any sort of body sculpting exercise. Again, you are only confirming that you needed improvement. I recommend rescuing a dog and walking him or her.Check his horoscope or continue to hack into his emails or drive past his flat. I spent ages trying to work out my former husband’s new computer password. Pointless.Start drinking, smoking or over-eating.Go SOMEWHERE lovely on holiday. I made this mistake and kept looking at the view of Florence thinking: ‘I don’t want to have dinner in the restaurant on my own!’Look up his girlfriends on Facebook, and don’t email them or visit them at their workplace (I flew to New York, bought an expensive bunch of flowers and turned up at her building masquerading as a motorcycle courier. She was on holiday). He won’t be doing this. I emailed my ex to tell him the woman he had left me for was a new mum (not with him), and he didn’t know or care.