If you have recently separated or divorced, now might be a good time to renovate both your look and your closets. Start by throwing out those sneakers you’ve had in your hall closet for years; your children and any visitors to your home will appreciate your thoughtfulness. Toss anything that has holes in it or still smells bad after being put through the wash once (or twice, for some of your athletic gear).
Here’s the truth about the male wardrobe: for the most part, we dress in suits because we have to (at work) and because it might make us look respectable enough to get a date (preferably not at work). Ask any man if he would prefer to wear a suit or a pair of jeans, and nine out of ten will choose jeans.
For the most part, we get dressed only because it’s unacceptable to walk around in public in a T-shirt and underwear. Seize this opportunity to upgrade your look – whatever that might be. Since you have to get dressed anyway, you might as well be wearing something that looks good to prospective employers or potential girlfriends.
First, you need the Absolute Basics. After that, you can branch-off into one of three subcategories: The Cowboy, The Sports Guy, or The GQ Man. Here’s what you need to know about looking good after divorce.
Men’s Guide to Looking Good after Divorce
The first step is to choose your Basic Color for work, which will be black, brown, navy, or grey. You can have more than one Basic Color, but you’ll need all the same items in each color you choose. This will get pricey, so I suggest you choose one color to start with.
- a two or three-piece suit in your Basic Color (see above)
- a pair of wrinkle-free pants in your Basic Color
- a white dress shirt (to wear with the suit)
- a white cotton shirt (to wear with wrinkle-free pants or jeans)
- two turtlenecks or long-sleeved T-shirts, one white and one in your Basic Color
- a couple of plain, round-necked cotton T-shirts in your Basic Color
- a couple of plain, round-necked cotton T-shirts in white
- jeans, sweaters, shorts, sneakers, swimsuits, sportswear, etc. to suit your needs and lifestyle
- one pair of dress shoes in your Basic Color
- one good leather belt in your Basic Color
- one or more neckties, depending on whether you wear a suit to work daily. This is where you can add a splash of color to your work look. However, unless you make cartoons for a living, don’t wear novelty ties. Ever.
Let’s talk a bit more about ties. Different colors make different impressions, so here’s a brief primer to what statement your tie’s color is making.
Green – you want to appear down-to-earth and reliable. Darker shades convey stability, and lighter shades imply vitality and “freshness.”
Blue – a favorite with politicians, a blue tie conveys trust, confidence, and stability. The lighter the shade, the more approachable you look.
Red – this is the so-called “power tie”, and you wear it to convey authority, strength, and even dominance in the business world. Not feeling quite so bold? Tone down the aggression by choosing burgundy instead of vivid red.
Yellow/Gold – you want to convey confidence, intelligence, and positivity. This is a muted version of a power tie – no dominance or aggression here!
If your divorce is heading to trial, you’ll need a suit and tie for court. If in doubt, ask your lawyer about which tie you should wear to help convey the right impression to the judge.
Men’s Guide to Looking Good after Divorce: The Cowboy
For this look, you’ll need:
- A decent pair of cowboy boots, preferably black leather. Don’t buy boots made out of an endangered species: it’s bad for the animal, and won’t be popular with the ladies.
- A good leather belt, no more than 1 1/2 inches wide. The buckle should be smallish and tasteful – avoid rodeo scenes or panoramics of the Rockies, for instance.
- A pair of jeans that fit. You probably don’t have a pair of jeans that fit because you’re buying the same size as when you were in high school. Jeans should fit around your waist, so measure your waist (don’t suck it in), and then try on several different pairs in the correct size until you find a pair that make your butt look great (ask a lady-friend to assess this). Avoid the “Plumber Look” in jeanswear.
- A cotton or silk shirt. Unless you are actually a cowboy, don’t wear cowboy shirts. Ditto for the hat.
Men’s Guide to Looking Good after Divorce: The Sports Guy
If this is your niche, you probably already know how to do this. Take a quick look through your drawers and closets and discard all clothing and footwear with holes where no holes should be, that have completely lost their shape (e.g., the sweater than now looks like a half-empty potato sack with sleeves), that are the wrong size or from the wrong era (e.g., you looked smokin’ hot in your Letterman jacket when you were 19, but several decades have passed since then and the zipper is at least six inches away from being able to close over your Dad-belly).
One caveat, however: no man over the age of 23 should wear an NHL jersey unless he:
- plays for the NHL,
- is currently at a hockey game where “his” NHL team is playing,
- is so handsome that it doesn’t matter what he wears,
- doesn’t want to attract women.
The same goes for fan fashion for all professional sports teams: no jerseys, sweaters, or shirts with team logos on the front and large numbers on the back.
Men’s Guide to Looking Good after Divorce: The GQ Man
Pick up a copy of GQ. Do you look like the men featured in the pages? Good – you already know what to do! If not, there isn’t space in this article to explain it. Sorry.
A Word About Personal Grooming
As you age, hair sometimes starts growing in unexpected (and unwelcome) places and stops growing where you’d like it to be (on your head, for instance). Take a long hard look in the mirror. Is there any hair visibly growing out of your nose or ears? Clip it. Do you only have one long, continuous eyebrow? Consider plucking or shaving the part above your nose to create the illusion of having two.
If you’re balding, lose the ponytail and do not, under any circumstances, start combing it up from the sides and back! You have more self-respect than that! Instead, go for a short cut, or look into hair replacement if your baldness really bothers you.