Although I see men also, most of my client base is female – many of whom come to see me to mark a significant event such as a big birthday or returning to work after maternity leave.
There are lots of reasons to see an image consultant, and in my experience divorce is one of the triggers for many women.
One view is that there is always an element of compromise in a marriage – especially with women it seems they often compromise time on themselves (more so where children are involved), and maybe even go a step further and don’t wear what they what they want to please/appease their partner.
One woman I saw had stopped wearing the colour ‘red’ because her husband didn’t like her in it. When I put a red scarf around her, she simply lit up, did a ‘whoop, whoop’ (I kid you not!) and exclaimed that she felt younger and gorgeous again. And I get this as colour is a very visual way to make a statement. A red dress says I’m confident whereas a sombre navy suit might say I don’t want to stand out yet.
This is not all about the other person either, some of the women (and men) I’ve spoken to about this have admitted that they no longer felt they had to make an effort with their appearance, by choice, because they were married.
In this instance, getting divorced may make someone simply feel like they need to make the effort with their appearance, especially if they are ready to start dating again.
Those who have come to see me following a divorce (oddly, never during), have made statements like: I want to feel good about myself again, I need to cheering up, I don’t want other people to think I’m letting myself go.
Having an image consultation has sometimes also tied in with losing weight, comfort eating (so gaining weight) and looking ill/drawn through the emotional roller-coaster – all factors where having your colour and/style done to understand your body can help hugely.
What this really tells me though is that people recognise that how they look affects how they feel and that it impacts upon how other people might perceive them.
Whatever the detailed reason, a big factor that affects someone’s decision to review their image after divorce is the ‘who’ – who instigated the divorce; and the why. So, a woman who chooses to leave her husband/partner often revisits the way they dress as a further sign of empowerment and to say they are validating their decision; whereas the woman who’s husband/partner leaves her might actually be seeking reassurance or trying to highlight his mistake in leaving her.
I recently met up with a friend who was newly divorced and she looked like a ‘different’ woman. She’d had her hair cut, was wearing more make-up and a green figure hugging dress. When I commented on the transformation, she gave me a whole list of quite defiant reasons for her ‘new’ look but also admitted that a) a lot of it was bravado and b) that she had also spent a fair amount of time dressed in black, feeling (looking) completely dowdy and acting like she’d been in mourning.
However, what struck me was that it wasn’t a new look at all – it was actually a revamp of the look she had before she got married. Again, I believe this of often the case (in most cases, not just re divorce) – people lose themselves and what they really like about their image in day-to-day living.
I also noted that her choice of colour was about growth, re-growth and newness. Whilst I’m not sure she had made that connection, I found it interesting compared to her ‘black, dowdy, mourning’ reference.
Deep colours, as mentioned may feel appropriate to start with – but moving into more vibrant colours is a way of showing that you’re coming alive again and ready to move on. As colour can play a huge part in how we feel, wearing you best colours will go along way to making you feel more positive (and attractive) even if that’s not really the case.
Whatever the reason for seeing an image consultant, for me the outcome is always about making someone feel good and more confident about themselves.
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