On Tuesday night at Watchung Booksellers in Montclair, N.J., Hillary Rodham Clinton held a book signing for “What Happened,” her new book recounting the events leading up to the 2016 presidential election. But there was something competing for the attention of her eager fans: Huma Abedin’s dungarees.
Ms. Abedin, the vice chairwoman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign, wore Alice & Olivia pre-fall 2016 floral embroidered flare jeans to the event. Since she tends to be photographed on the streets of Manhattan in pantsuits or patterned dresses, opting for these the day after her soon-to-be ex-husband, Anthony D. Weiner, was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison for sexting with a 15-year-old girl, was an intriguing choice.
Ms. Abedin has a long relationship with fashion. She has been spotted with Anna Wintour all over New York City this year. She attended the Met Ball twice and was shot for Vogue multiple times, wearing designers like Oscar de la Renta (her wedding gown) and Ralph Lauren. When she stood by Mr. Weiner during his 2013 New York City mayoral campaign as he acknowledged that his pattern of texting sexual images to women had continued, she wore a subdued outfit with a black cardigan sweater and her hair back in a bun.
These jeans sent a different message, one surely received by the paparazzi staked outside her door that morning. With a smattering of yellow and orange flowers and leaves from hip to heel, the jeans said: bright and cheery. They said, Let’s roll around in a meadow covered with wildflowers in our hair like hippie children from the 1960s singing “Let the Sunshine In.” (They’ve also been worn by Amal Clooney.) They’re a walking celebration. An explosion of animated joy.
You’d like to know how Ms. Abedin is doing a week and a half after appearing in divorce court? Look at her jeans.
Ms. Abedin seems to be taking the path of the divorce makeover, a fairly common ritual in the painful breakup process. Going for a new look allows you to take the white-hot glare off a difficult part of your life and focus on something else. It can signal who you’d like to become.
Gwen Stefani, who split from Gavin Rossdale in 2015, went with divorce hair, dyeing the bottom half of her platinum blond locks horizontally in black and purple after they broke up. Khloe Kardashian lost 40 pounds after her split from Lamar Odom in 2016. Katy Perry opted for a supershort platinum blond cut after her breakup with Orlando Bloom.
Reese Witherspoon, who divorced Ryan Phillippe in 2007, appeared in a sleek bright-yellow knee-length and decidedly sexpot cocktail dress — deemed the “Ryan Who?” dress by Hal Rubenstein, the former fashion director of InStyle — that year at the Golden Globes. The outfit was a departure from the “Princess Bride”-like dresses Ms. Witherspoon wore the previous year while she was still married.
Some spend ridiculous amounts of money on their makeovers: Amanda Sanders, a makeover artist in New York, told The New York Post in May that she charges $250 an hour to revamp newly single women.
For Geneen Wright, 42, of West Hollywood, Calif., her look completely changed from the businesslike gray-and-black minimalist uniform she often wore during her marriage to Daniel Humm, the head chef and co-owner of the Manhattan restaurant Eleven Madison Park.
“During a marriage there’s a lot you can’t control,” Ms. Wright said. “But my clothing was the one thing I could control to be perfect. I could be perfectly put together.”
She said that post-split she instinctively rotated pinks, florals and flowing coats into her wardrobe, embracing a more carefree spirit.
Ms. Wright wore her hair bone-straight in her marriage; after the breakup she let her hair go natural. In her marriage she wore pearls and silver; after the breakup she wore rose-gold bangles stacked up her arm and oversize hoop earrings.
“I didn’t make the conscious decision to say, ‘I’m not wearing these clothes anymore,’” she said. “It was about me getting in touch with the core of who I was.”