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Welcome to the unofficial celebrity masterclass in “How To Dress For Revenge.” While I can’t say for certain, if you’re reading this, I assume there’s vengeance brewing deep within your heart that only a killer revenge look can extinguish. Violence is never the answer, but a perfectly curated outfit that sends a chilling message to the person (or people) who have wronged you while simultaneously making you look better than you ever have before? That works just fine.
Technically, a revenge look doesn’t have to be so spiteful, but what fun would that be? Just ask our hosts for this revenge dressing session: Taylor Swift, Olivia Wilde, Harry Styles, Gisele Bündchen, Ariana Madix, Camila Cabello, Shawn Mendes and Reese Witherspoon—and I suppose we can throw Joe Awlyn in there as a counter-example. Each of these celebrities has weathered a public breakup and scrutiny and has emerged with a closet graced by the Fairy Godmother effect of a celebrity stylist.
Unless you’re Taylor Swift who has specifically noted in her lyrics, “I don’t dress for women. I don’t dress for men. Lately, I’ve been dressing for revenge,” you probably won’t announce to the world that you’re wearing a revenge look. It’s everyone else’s job to deem your new outfit a “revenge look” and it’s your job to look fabulous wearing it. Got it? Good. Let’s go over the ground rules.
1. Go For the Sheer Shock Factor
Take notes from Olivia Wilde, who was been wearing every sexy look in her arsenal after her breakup with Harry Styles. Get your friends together for a night out, and put on a sheer dress or top that your grandparents would definitely hate. Task one of your friends with getting the perfect picture of you in your sheer look and before you know it, you’ll have new suitors sliding into your DMs.
If you’re going to wear something sheer, the most important factor in nailing the look is confidence. Own that see-through slip. Bonus points if you’re talking on the phone, like Olivia Wilde is because it makes you look booked and busy. Don’t worry, nobody will tell if it’s just a prop.
Silver Long Mesh Dress
This silver dress is the ultimate revenge dress—wear it with a black thong and bralette for a night out or over a bikini on a vacation.
2. Buy Yourself Flowers
You don’t need anyone to buy you flowers that will wilt and die when you can buy your own floral appliqué piece. Harry Styles took the flower trend to a new level with a massive flower choker at the 2023 Brit Awards. This is a fun trend to play into and justify as a “self-care” purchase.
Asymmetrical Flower Maxi Dress
This purple dress incorporates the flower appliqué trend without being too obvious. The rich purple color of the dress will also help you stand out in a crowd, whether that’s at a dinner out, bar or wedding.
3. Sport A New Attitude
Gisele Bündchen is done just watching from the sidelines and is putting herself back in the game as the main player. All attention was on Bündchen when she attended the 2023 Carnival parades at Marquest de Sapucai Sambodrome in Brazil following her divorce from Tom Brady. Her outfit is casual and effortlessly cool—the thing that takes it to the next level is her glowing skin, huge smile and beachy waves. When you feel a glow-up from within, it will show on the outside.
Grab one of your favorite T-shirts and pair it with your new attitude. Or, if you’re feeling extra vengeful, cut one of your ex’s T-shirts into a crop top and wear it around town.
Aerosmith Air Force One Tour Tee
Rock a T-shirt that matches your mood by dressing up your favorite band T-shirt. If the band had significance to the person you are seeking revenge from, even better.
Aerosmith Air Force One Tour Tee
4. Coordinate With Your Crew
Following Taylor Swift’s breakup with Joe Alwyn, the singer was spotted multiple times out with friends in New York City. Most notably, she channeled her on-stage energy and brought the girl squad back out in a viral photo moment with Gigi Hadid and the Haim sisters. Do not underestimate the power of a full friend group outing. Pick a location, a theme and coordinate looks for a night out.
Beaded Shoulder Bag
Taylor Swift wore a chainmail Paco Rabanne bag on her first night out post-breakup. This beaded bag from Zara looks very similar but is a much more affordable option. You’re going to need a fun bag to hold your essentials for your night out with your friends.
5. Give Them The Bold Shoulder
Camila Cabello completely elevated her style game post-breakup with Shawn Mendes. The zipper dress with the huge statement sleeves above could initially have been out of Camila Cabello’s comfort zone based on her typical style, but it ended up being one of her best looks ever. Whether you’re emerging from a romantic breakup, friendship breakup or career breakup, a moment of personal change is an opportunity to take a risk.
This red cape dress is the ultimate bold choice. The color is gorgeous and the long cascading cape detailing says, “I can save myself.”
6. Bring Out The LBD
Reese Witherspoon pulled out a fail-proof LBD when news broke about her divorce from Jim Toth. She picked a stunning strapless black dress with gold buttons—the look is both sexy and sophisticated and proves the black LBD works as a revenge dress for any reason, for any age. Once you find a black dress that you feel great in, keep it in your closet as your secret weapon.
Thom Midi Dress
This LBD is simple yet effective. The high-leg slit creates a nice contrast against the dress’s midi length. You’ll be able to wear this dress over and over again.
7. Keep It Classy
If you have it within you to take the high road (congrats), one of the most effective and underrated ways to dress for revenge is to simply keep things classic. By wearing a signature look and not making a huge statement, you’ll actually make the ultimate statement: you don’t care and you aren’t emotionally affected. Shawn Mendes leaned into his clean, minimalist style post-breakup from Camila Cabello. As Olivia Rodrigo would say, “Good for you. You look happy and healthy”. Ouch! Whether that narrative is true or not, dressing for classy indifference may just be the best revenge outfit you could pick.
Skater Badge Cardigan
Shawn Mendes wears lots of Tommy Hilfiger and if you’re trying to copy his classic look, you should too. This cardigan is a perfect balance between sporty, preppy and casual—it’s also a great unisex piece.