“My style changes after each break-up I go through – but why?”

Written by Megan Wallace

Break-ups are never easy – and they can have a seriously confusing effect on our fashion choices, says writer Megan Wallace.

As I get older, it feels like I accumulate two things: clothes and break-ups. My now-heaving clothes rail is crammed with glam faux fur jackets, preppy tennis skirts and androgynous oversized shirts from different stages of my life, different stages that correspond with totally disparate facets of my personal style.

Similarly, when I think back on my exes, they seem connected to unconnected fragments of my life, ways of living that seem so far away from who I am now. The ambitious artist who’d take me to obscure gallery openings, the thoughtful PhD student who forced me to watch forgotten arthouse films, the outdoorsy doctor who would hold my hand through nature walks – and countless others (I’m a sex and relationships writer, after all).  

Why does our style always change after a break-up?

Lately, I’ve been thinking that these two things may be connected. When I look at my wardrobe I see an amalgamation of different selves – a spectrum of people who had lives, loves and interests different to my current reality. The end of a relationship is often presented as a new chapter in your life but, for me, it’s a chance to let go of the version of myself that I curated in the misguided hopes that the other person would like me. 

Perhaps that’s why I cycle through trends while I’m in relationships – picking up clothes and mannerisms of whoever I’m dating, only to discard them and move onto the next trend and next partner.

I’m sure my therapist would have a thought or two but, as it turns out, I’m not the only one who changes their look when a romance comes to an end. For 24-year-old Laura, a major split in 2019 led to a series of new, more provocative wardrobe choices. 

“I played around a lot with sexuality and dressing up,” she recalls. “Getting new clothes that didn’t hold the energy of the relationship and the time passed with my ex helped a lot.”

These days, Laura is barely seen in anything that’s not oversized. Wearing skimpier clothes was a way to feel good about herself after the hurt of the break-up, but she doesn’t think her new look was entirely positive. “It stemmed from the unconscious feeling that I wasn’t attractive anymore and fed into the unhealthy pressure to rebound,” she says. With distance from the break-up, Laura believes she was involved in a process of “sexualising” herself as a way of proving her worth.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, 24-year-old Nic says that a break-up in April led her to gravitate towards looser silhouettes and muted colours in her day-to-day life. “I’ve started wearing far looser-fitting clothes, baggier jeans and stripping everything back to basics – I now own about seven of the exact same black T-shirt,” she explains. 

Nic links these fashion choices closely to the state of her mental health. “I came out of a deep depression and I didn’t really want to be perceived in the way I was before. I don’t really want men to look at my body unless it’s on my terms and most days I just don’t want to be looked at,” she says.

Whether your relationship ends on good or bad terms, it’s perfectly normal for us to explore who we are when a relationship ends.

Laura and Nic’s experiences are relatable in their own way; we’ve all had a friend who has identified with one or the other post-break-up. Wellbeing coach Kamran Bedi says these changes in style reflect deeper identity crises that can occur around a split. 

“For some people, an end of a relationship can lead to a deep self-reflection around their own identity,” he says. “The longer the relationship, the deeper the search can be and it’s also not immediate for some people, as it’s always an individual and unique time in discovering your newfound self.”

According to Bedi, the process of investing in new clothes can be a form of self-expression to help people re-establish their own identity once a relationship ends. 

“One of the ways that can help people move on is to focus their time on themselves, in particular with how they identify their sense of fashion and style,” he says. “Shopping for new clothes, shoes and accessories can often help people mentally shift into their own head and heart space. This can involve creating a sense of confidence within themselves through new styles, and exploring new ways of dressing which can help heal an aching heart.”

He’s right: it can feel good to invest in yourself and your style after a break-up. They call it retail therapy for a reason – I’m just not sure my bank balance can take another pummelling the next time I get dumped. Looking at my accumulated muddle of clothes, it’s clear that I have to piece something together from the jumbled aesthetics I’ve tried on for size over the years. I guess if there’s any time to try the kooky girl trend, it’s now.

Images: Getty

Source: Read Full Article