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Carrie’s Trend Report: would a break-up makeover work for you?

There is nothing like a change in relationship status to spur women into action to change their look.

The corporate look with ex-husband Tom
The corporate look with ex-husband Tom

Haircuts, new clothes, even dropping that elusive 10lb, seem to be common reactions when we leave a long-term relationship.

The current celebrity poster girl for this is Katie Holmes. During her marriage to Tom Cruise she wore ill-advised prim dresses, blouses and pencil skirts that made her look frumpy.

Her hair was also cut and styled into a series of unflattering hairdos. She appeared to want to bridge the 17-year gap between her and Cruise by dressing older than her age.

But the difference in her appearance since she filed for divorce in late June is astounding. She now looks her age (33) and her style metamorphosis has been compelling to watch.

Her outfits now consist of age-appropriate items such as Isabel Marant suede boots, maxi-skirts, denim jackets and tortoiseshell sunglasses.

She isn’t the first A-lister to work a winning break-up look. The previous Mrs Cruise, Nicole Kidman, also set the fashion world alight with the high-fashion couture she wore just after their separation.

This sudden glamour flies in the face of the conventional wisdom that post break-up, women are likely to loll on the sofa, wearing jammies and expressing their misery to their friends. This has been turned on its head by celebrities, who are using relationship break-ups as the catalyst to revamp their lives, bodies and wardrobes.

More of us than ever are following their lead, with a recent survey showing that the majority of women are motivated to re-vamp their look when heartbreak strikes. According to this new research, post break-up makeovers cost women in the UK an average of £500, with a new hairstyle and a new wardrobe of clothes the most common purchases.

So is this a case of female empowerment, of us re-asserting who we are after a major life change? Or do we spend money buying consumer goods after a break-up because our self-confidence is low?

I suppose the truth lies somewhere in the middle. While fashion can, sometimes justifiably so, be accused of being all about surface and frivolity, who can deny its power to make us feel happy and confident.

There is nothing negative about being creative with fashion, whatever the impetus. I am reminded of a quote from the TV show Sex and the City, where the lead character Carrie Bradshaw lamented: “My relationship is at a standstill, so instead, I'm evolving my look.”

Changes in our appearance such as a new haircut, a new makeup look, or even a new clothing purchase, can have positive benefits. Doing something drastic can be invigorating, as I discovered eight years ago when my hairdresser chopped my shoulder-length brown hair into a pixie crop.

We can all get stuck in a style rut when it comes to our appearance – and perhaps a change in relationship status is the perfect time to re-evaluate this. For once Hollywood seems to be a blazing a trail that we can all follow.

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