Ask the Kit: What's the ultimate revenge outfit?
After all, I have faith in the power of fashion. Anyone who reads this column regularly knows that I believe it can shape impressions and convey an important message about who you are. But when I was younger, I was pretty sure that the right outfit could change someone’s mind about me. I had a hunch that if I showed up in the perfect dress, something that framed my figure and hid my flaws (like the fact that he and I had nothing in common) then things might work out differently. Or, at the very least, that I would win this karmic round and accept my prize for … what? Well, being a bit petty, it seems in retrospect.
Fashion is powerful, but it is not sorcery. An outfit cannot fix a broken relationship; it cannot make you happy in a partnership that was unfulfilling; it cannot make you the winner unless you act like one.
“Why do you feel like you lost something?” asks singer-songwriter Jully Black. I asked her for advice about your quandary because, like us, she’s been through breakups and lived to tell. (Or win Junos about it, in her case.) She is also the founder of 100 Strong and Sexy and Empowered in my Skin, two organizations that work to support women and boost their confidence.
“You’re hurt, you’re bitter,” says Black, nodding her head knowingly. “But why be bitter when you could be better?” She pauses. “You had the presence of mind to focus on yourself and get healthy, so the perfect revenge outfit is the outfit that will help you maintain your mental outlook.”
That means, if you are a casual person who has just reconnected with her love of sport and who is attending a low-key celebration, you shouldn’t zip yourself into a plunging cocktail dress to turn heads. It won’t feel powerful. It will feel petty. (Trust me, I have hobbled across the lawn of a backyard party in heels and I can tell you that sinking into the grass at every step creates a deeper, spiritual sinking feeling.)
Instead, stay true to yourself: wear amazing slim jeans that you can feel good in a thousand more times, wear a cute and comfortable linen top that feels easy and right, wear architectural flats that let you feel grounded.
Let me be clear: it’s natural to want to look beautiful when you’re faced with someone who meant a lot to you, so by all means, spend an extra minute styling your hair or add a flush of blush to your cheeks. I have no judgment about vanity and pride, they are part of the human condition. But don’t let your attention shift too far off your new-found goals of happiness, fitness and just-doing-you. “When you’re entirely focused on someone else’s opinion of you, you are dead,” says Black with a clap of her hands. “You have checked out of your life, and they have moved on. Instead of just jumping into a plot — ask yourself what’s going on with you? What’s your vision for your relationships; for your family; for your career and for the rest of your life? Figure out those pillars and then this person will see you soaring — and you won’t even have to look back.”
Black, after all, should know. She survived the breakup of a 12-year relationship and has now found real love. “My ex was my biggest teacher,” she says. “I have so much gratitude for the past. I don’t look at it as a mistake or look back with guilt and regret. I look at it as an education that brought me today, when I can understand what love truly feels like. Now, I am 100 per cent unapologetically, truly in love — and I’m at a place in my life in which I can safely say, ‘accept me like this, or I’m out.’”
Her happiness has one sticking point: it has complicated the way she approaches her music. “Interestingly enough, like Adele or other singers, it was way easier to write music when I was hurting. So now, I have been asking myself: What is my story?”
I’d ask you to slip on an outfit that feels natural, push aside revenge, and ask yourself the same thing: what do you want your story to be?
These spring staples will let you feel fashionable and like yourself
Eliza Faulkner scrunchy, $20, elizafaulkner.com
Le Specs sunglasses, $175, clarev.com
Uniqlo blouse, $30, Uniqlo.com
Gap jeans, $90, gapcanada.ca
Paloma Barcelo espadrilles, $225, davidsfootwear.com