If you follow pop culture, you are probably familiar with the concept of a post-divorce “revenge body.” After all, we frequently see stories about celebrities’ “transformations” and attributing weight loss, a new wardrobe, or an allover new “look” to the separation of that celebrity from their spouse. For example, many attributed Adele’s dramatic weight loss to her divorce last year. After Khloe Kardashian’s divorce from Lamar Odom was finalized, she even hosted a reality show called “Revenge Body with Khloe Kardashian.”
A “revenge body” typically means that someone who has recently divorced or broken up with a partner is channeling their negative emotions into working out, dieting, and sometimes cosmetic surgery in an attempt to make their ex-spouse jealous or regretful for leaving.
Whether seeking a “revenge body” post-divorce is physically or psychologically healthy is up for debate. On the one hand, most would not disagree that it is a positive change to create habits to improve one’s health and well-being. On the other hand, holding on to anger could prevent an individual from experiencing and moving on from the grief that ensues after a marriage ends. Additionally, individuals do sometimes engage in unhealthy behaviors in their quest to make an ex-partner jealous, like unhealthy food restriction, extreme and unrelenting workouts, or impulsive cosmetic surgery.
More recently, the media has been writing not only about post-divorce physiques, but post-divorce style as well. Though it has found a resurgence of interest lately, this is not a new trend.
For example, Marilyn Monroe met baseball legend Joe DiMaggio in 1952, and they married in January 1954. Later that year, The Seven Year Itch was filmed, and the infamous scene of Monroe in a white dress being blown upwards by a subway grate helped cement Monroe’s status as a star. DiMaggio, however, was on set while the scene was filmed and was embarrassed and jealous by the attention Monroe received, and they argued backstage. About a month after filming began, Monroe filed for divorce, citing “mental cruelty” following a fight about the scene.
Monroe publicly announced the divorce with her attorney and wore a form-fitting, black, zippered dress with a turtleneck, which was sold at auction in 2019 for $100,000.00. Monroe also caught the attention of the press with the dark-colored skirt suit she wore to the courthouse when the divorce was finalized.
Moving forward in history, in 1981, the wedding between Princess Diana and Prince Charles garnered nearly a billion television viewers. Unfortunately, they struggled in their marriage and ended up separating in 1992.
In June 1994, just as Princess Diana was arriving at a Vanity Fair gala, Prince Charles was on television admitting that he had been unfaithful to her during their marriage. Princess Diana, arguably, had the last laugh though, as the low-cut, tight, off-the-shoulder black cocktail dress she donned to the event made headlines.
It turns out that Diana had purchased the dress, which was made by Italian designer Christina Stambolian, three years earlier, but had not yet worn it because she thought it “too daring.” She actually planned to wear a different outfit entirely – a dress by Valentino – but that dress had been prematurely leaked to the press, so she made a last-minute decision to wear the more “daring” choice. She also wore a necklace containing a very large sapphire and diamonds – a wedding gift to Diana from the Queen. While Diana did not comment publicly on her decision to wear that particular necklace to that particular gala, speculation abounded.
Around two months before Diana’s death, she put nearly 80 of her dresses up for auction to benefit the Royal Marsden Hospital Cancer Fund and the AIDS crisis trust. Diana’s “revenge dress” sold at auction for $65,000.00.
Recently, Mary-Kate Olsen finalized her divorce from French banker Olivier Sarkozy. A snapshot of Olsen and Sarkozy’s divorce finalization over Zoom went viral, with Olsen becoming somewhat of a meme. Olsen wore a black turtleneck, but most noticeable was her perceived slight, satisfied smile.
We have, therefore always been concerned with the actions and appearance of celebrities and how those may differ depending upon what said celebrities do in their personal lives. But courtroom and divorce style are not just the concern of the right and the famous.
There are dozens of websites and blogs out there offering advice on what to wear to Court – and not just from attorneys for their clients. The Expert Institute has a guide on their website for what to wear to Court as an expert witness. Some sites geared towards men’s fashion have guides specifically geared towards men. Others are geared specifically towards individuals getting divorced.
Most litigation attorneys have had such a conversation at least a handful of times with clients. Many attorneys advise their clients as to what to wear not only to the courtroom, but also for things such as depositions, especially if it is filmed, and settlement conferences or mediation.
Other attorneys even take it a step further. Some high-end boutique law firms will even offer the services of a personal stylist. Other attorneys utilize professional “image consultants” to dress clients for court. These consultants are typically used for criminal defendants.
Overall, it appears the experts agree that whatever one wears to Court, and regardless of whether the client is feminine or masculine presenting, is that conservative is key. Bright colors, loud prints, provocative clothing, and clothing that allows tattoos to be shown when they could be covered are generally inadvisable.
Will developing a “revenge body” or “revenge style” really make a person’s ex-spouse jealous? Maybe. Is there anything wrong with a person wanting to focus on their health and style after the end of a marriage? Not inherently, no. Individuals should, however, be careful not to make impulsive decisions during periods of emotional hardship like a divorce, and also be careful not to go broke purchasing high-end clothing or cosmetic surgery just to make an ex-spouse jealous. Regardless, divorce style is likely something that we will continue to see among celebrities as well as non-celebrities for many years to come.