So Weird: I Got Dumped, and Now I Dress Way Better

You know the kind of love you dreamt about when you were a little girl? That can’t-eat, can’t-sleep, reach-for-the-stars, over-the-fence, World Series kind of stuff? (It Takes Two, anyone?) Well, that’s the kind of love I had the pleasure of experiencing, and despite the painful heartbreak that followed, I’m still extremely grateful I got to feel it. To give you some context, I had been in a couple of pretty hideous relationships prior to this one. So bad that my friends and family still love to joke about them with me. Remember your high school boyfriend who is now married with two kids? Dodged a bullet with that one. Yes, dad. I do. Remember when you dated that one psychopath? Wow, he sucked. Yep, still remember. Thanks though. When I finally got into the relationship I’m touching on today, I remember thinking to myself, oh… so this is what love is supposed to feel like.

We had a really good run, at least we did in my mind. He treated me better than I had ever been treated, made me feel safe, motivated me in every single aspect of my life, and made me laugh harder than most people could. Every second spent with him was good. People used to call us the “power couple”, as we were almost more motivated by the other’s success than we were our own. There was no intimidation, no insecurity, and no tension. Our relationship had just reached that point where you feel like you’re at the top of a cliff, where your emotions are at an all-time high and you feel disgustingly happy, when I was basically pushed off.

One night he came over to hang out. I opened the door and he was standing there with a grim expression holding my face wash. I remember getting an instant pit in my stomach, but in typical Lauren fashion, I made a joke to fill the uncomfortable silence. The joke was quickly followed with a “we need to break up” which was then followed by an empty conversation that left me with no answers. To this day I actually still don’t have answers, but that’s beside the point. The bad news is, my heart was broken that night in a way I don’t quite know if I’ll ever fully heal from. The good news is that I learned how to dress way cooler post–being dumped, and I’m here to explain how and why that is logically, emotionally, and geographically. Along the way, check out some of the outfits that convinced me I had finally gained a real sense of my personal style post-breakup.

Logistically

I’m a really logical person. No really—I am driven more by logic than I am emotion, which actually ended up hurting me more throughout the process of getting over this breakup (more about this later), but I digress. Logistically, when you’re in a relationship, there are a lot of corners that end up getting cut. I’m not saying I “let myself go” or became “too comfortable”, but between the driving back and forth from his apartment to mine and lingering weekend visits, I felt like I was constantly living out of a packed bag—a dull one.

You can only stuff so many outfit ideas and whimsical accessories into an overnight bag. For the most part, I was packing tomorrow’s work outfit in a rush in an effort to simultaneously beat L.A. traffic and to spend more time with my then-boyfriend. This meant a repetitive assortment of jeans, “cute” tops, and go-with-anything shoes. You can forget about a new fun handbag, jewelry, or anything that needed to be steamed. I preferred and craved those extra 10 minutes lying in bed just being together over having to steam a stupid dress. So jeans and a blouse it was.

Those go-to items became my unofficial uniform, and boy, did I abuse them. There’s nothing wrong with wearing jeans and a T-shirt and whatnot on the regular, but that’s just not a true representation of my personal style, and deep down I hated that. But alas, I was in love, and that mattered more to me than being the best dressed at the office.

Fast-forward through the relationship, the breakup, and the mourning of the breakup to my current state. Getting dressed every day has become almost therapeutic for me, especially after moving to New York. I started investing in pieces that made me really happy, which makes getting dressed in the morning an instant mood booster. I have more time to actually think through how I want the world to perceive me that day and why. To be honest, it made me fall in love with fashion again. Scratch that—it made me remember the importance of valuing personal style.

Emotionally

Emotions—what even are they?! I hate them. Those inevitable feelings that come with the trauma of a breakup really took a toll on me. Normally, in the wake of such unfortunate events, I use logic as a means to deflect all emotion, but since I was completely blindsighted, healing via logic was no longer an option. It wasn’t like he cheated on me leaving me in a pit of rage and it wasn’t like he treated me like crap and I was finally escaping the fighting—it was actually quite the opposite. He treated me like a queen, he loved me better and harder than I had ever been loved, and he was my best friend… until he wasn’t. All the good suddenly stopped and I was left with a pile of tangled emotions and a bruised spirit.

The emotion of it all trapped me for longer than I like to admit. For months I was basically numb to everything including friends, family, and—you guessed it—personal style. I remember looking into my closet and hating everything I saw because instead of clothes, I was seeing memories. Wow, I just rolled my eyes as I wrote that sentence, but it’s true! I would do the stereotypical pining of all the good times I once had in said dress with someone I definitely still loved, which ultimately made me despise a majority of my wardrobe.

The only way I can really describe fully healing from the breakup was like I had been asleep for a long time and finally just woke up. My friends would reminisce about something that happened a few months prior and I truly wouldn’t even remember what they were talking about. My body had been present, but my mind couldn’t have been farther away… until it wasn’t. After an embarrassingly long time of disengagement and a slight personality identity crisis, I came back to life, as did my wardrobe.

I started saying yes to social functions again, would actually get excited about showing up, and dressed according to my mood, which was finally a pleasant one. This meant more prints, louder accessories, innovative styling tricks, and pictures to go with it! I was finally excited to seem happy on social media because, believe it or not, I actually was happy. I used to feel this strange guilt whenever I would post a picture where I looked happy because I was so far from it in reality. It was those little things that made me realize I was back, and my friends could see it too.

Speaking of friends, going through a breakup really tests your relationships. Emotionally crippling situations like this kind of puts your friendships through a sift. Only the extremely fine ones make it through. Your eyes are reopened to the high standards your friends (hopefully) hold you to, and you’ll do anything to prove to them that you are ready to be a functioning human again. Coming back to that comfortable place in my friendships also made me realize the ones I had been missing out on, especially at work.

For a while, I would show up to work, pray I could make it through the day without crying, and try to speak to as few people as possible. If I could do that, it would be a great day. I kept my head down for so long that once I finally lifted it up, I realized I had been shutting so many people out and actually saw my co-workers in a whole new light. Since then, I’ve strengthened my friendships with all of them, and because of that, they too have influenced my personal style. I mean, we are all fashion editors, so our outfits are something we value, but it became a lot more fun to show up to work looking cute when I had real friends to greet me with smiles and obnoxious compliments (as friends do). These new relationships also made me realize that I had actually been trying to not dress cute in an effort to avoid communication altogether, meaning I was choosing convenience and solitude over personal identity. Once that stopped, my wardrobe started changing for the better.

Geographically

Lastly, a major change of scenery also helped to propel my style evolution along. It had always been my dream to move to New York, and my ex knew that. In fact, we even bought tickets to come to New York so he could see my life here, meet my friends, etc., just a couple of weeks before he broke up with me. Confused? Yeah, me too. After the heartbreak passed, I had one of those "now or never" moments and took the plunge. Yes, working in fashion has changed my style a lot, but living in this city, in general, has really done some damage to my personal taste and preferences. It’s so much more exciting to experiment with fashion here because frankly, everyone does. I go to a lot more events here than I did in L.A., find myself dressing up more often, and believe it or not, have actually been dating.

Now I get to experiment with the way I dress both seasonally and socially, and it’s been really fun. There’s also that cliché notion that no one knows you here, so why not just be whoever the heck you want to be? Again, I’m rolling my eyes, but again, it’s true! No one here knows about the year-long slump I went through. No one’s thinking about how much happier I seem now compared to how not happy I was back then. They are just seeing me for who I am now—a healed and happy woman living out her career and style dreams in New York City. Full circle, baby. Full circle.

To Make a Long Story Short

… too late—it, unfortunately, took a trying time for me to really start loving fashion in the way that I used to. After having settled for so long, both during my relationship and after it, for mindless basics, foolproof outfit formulas, and anything that made me feel safe, it finally became time to take ownership of my style again. Besides being younger back then, I also had never really had to think too much about how happy what you wear can make you feel because I already was happy. It took experiencing a lull in life for me to remember the joy an outfit can bring to your day if you let it. After all this blubbering, I can excitedly say that I’m happy to be back, folks.

Available in sizes 5 to 11. 

Next up, shop our slow-fashion shopping guide.