Barbara Ballinger had been married for 29 years when her husband announced he was leaving her.
“I was very embarrassed when it happened,” Ballinger, co-author of “Suddenly Single After 50: The Girlfriends’ Guide to Navigating Loss, Restoring Hope, and Rebuilding Your Life,” tells The Post. “I had gray hair, I had gained some weight, and I just hadn’t been paying attention to my clothing.”
Divorce pushed the Hudson, NY, resident to seek professional fashion help from an image consultant.
“They steered me to hipper, sexier clothing — like this sexy black Vivienne Tam dress I never would have bought before. I started wearing dresses and showing off cleavage for the first time in years.”
Almost 814,000 couples got divorced in the US in 2014...
...according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and there’s money to be made from servicing their needs — from concierges who take care of tasks such as putting a couple’s home up for sale to matchmakers who cater exclusively to divorced people.
That cottage industry now includes stylists, who say more divorced people are coming to them post-split to overhaul their image and regain their confidence.
Ballinger says the makeover gave her the mojo to dip her feet into the dating pool for the first time in decades — and the revenge factor didn’t hurt, either.
“When I found out how much my now-ex-husband was spending on his new apartment, I bought my first pair of Manolo Blahniks,” she says.
After all, looking good can boost frayed self-esteem. After her split with “The Voice” judge Blake Shelton, country singer Miranda Lambert got a sassy new hairdo and posted a selfie on Instagram with the caption, “What doesn’t kill you only makes you blonder.”
Hilary Duff dyed her hair blue, and began sporting eye-catching sheaths for the paparazzi and posting bikini selfies just weeks after her divorce from hockey player Mike Comrie.
Meanwhile, shows such as “Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce” portray their characters in trendy leather jackets and sexy stilettos.
Out with the old, in with the new.
“After the divorce, I felt like I needed a fresh start,” says the 43-year-old Upper East Sider, who works in real estate. “It’s that feeling of ‘out with the old, in with the new.’ ”
[Her stylist] went through Wilson’s wardrobe, chucking her outdated jeans and old “blah” turtlenecks. She outfitted her client in sleek leather pants, sexy knee-high boots and colorful patterned frocks.
“Even though it’s just aesthetics, it actually changes the way you feel,”
says Wilson. “It really put me in the mindset to start anew and move forward . . . and I get a lot of compliments.”
Michelle McFarlane, founder and CEO of the personal shopping business The Shopping Friend, charges [between $95 and $135 per hour for a closet consultation and for personal shopping services depending on your location] (NY Post misprinted our rates in their article).
McFarlane says women who hire a stylist post-divorce are usually looking to erase every trace of their marriage, clothes included. (I didn't actually say that. I said many wives get lazy in marriage and buy clothing that isn't really them. Post-divorce, they turn to a personal stylist to help them find the image that makes them feel fabulous and that usually includes getting rid of most of their clothes from their marriage.)
While men are looking to hire a replacement wife (Again, NY Post misquoted me. I said that our male clients usually had wives who shopped for them during their marriages and chose their styles for them. After divorces, our male clients don't actually know their personal style and hire our personal stylists to help them discover their authentic, individual style.)
She says her business has grown by 50 percent over the last two years — but that sometimes, she ends up playing the dual role of therapist.
“When we come through the door, we are spending hours with our clients,” says McFarlane, who’s based in Los Angeles but serves clients across the country. “We hear about what’s happening in their lives, about their different relationships, about their kids...”
Other times, image consultants end up jump-starting their clients’ careers with their whole new look.
3 ways to revamp your look post-divorce
1. Invest in a last-minute date dress
Try a day-to-night frock — but not an LBD (little black dress). “A brighter, jewel-tone cocktail dress feels feminine and flirty without being too revealing,” she says, adding that the jolt of color is an instant mood-lifter.
2. Don’t be sentimental
If you haven’t worn an item in at least two years, give it away. “Women are sentimental about their clothes, whether it’s something we wore to our rehearsal dinner or got on vacation. We tend to remember ourselves in Kodak moments wearing those clothes.”
3. Change one thing about your look
Pick one style habit that you’ve been clinging onto, and change it. That could mean swapping your glasses for contacts or getting highlights. “Sometimes changing something small on the outside can bring about that change that you want to feel on the inside.”
Are you ready to refresh your wardrobe, look put together, and feel confident with your outfits? We can help.
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