‘Post-split makeovers make you look cheap’

London - Classic, isn’t it? Katie Holmes files for divorce and abandons her uniform of the past few years - awful mommy jeans, no make-up and ballet pumps - and slips into a pair of high heels, tossing her newly conker-shiny hair over her aerobicised, milky shoulder.

I feel a bit sorry for Tom Cruise: dumped on his 50th birthday; ridiculed for being so short; questions raised about whether or not his career will suffer because of his abandonment.

Far from applauding Katie, I always question the woman who the moment her marriage shatters, suddenly looks so much more gorgeous. Credit: REUTERS

Far from applauding Katie, I always question the woman who the moment her marriage shatters, suddenly looks so much more gorgeous.

Take Cheryl Cole, who never seemed to puff up despite the tears or be spotted shuffling to the newsagent in her pyjamas with Maltesers stuck in her hair. There is something sinister about a woman who does not, for a few months at least, let herself go a bit.

When your marriage breaks up, you are supposed to look dreadful, to mourn. You need time when you are not putting yourself out there in order to reflect and learn.

I know I did. I spent about a year not washing my hair, having leg waxes or even undressing before I fell into bed. This is all part of the process, surely? To do otherwise is too Stepford Wife, unfeeling and robotic.

To me, Katie is signalling her availability, not her independence.

My time of being hairy and smelly was healing. It was a relief, after so many years of frantic tweezering, to just let it all hang out for a while.

Uninterested and too distrustful to even think about finding a new man, I could regroup, figure out what was important in my life and which direction I wanted to go.

My advice is to not buy any new clothes for at least a year: you will only make a dreadful mistake. After her husband left her for someone younger, a friend bought a dress by Mary Katrantzou, which she could ill afford. She is broke and resembles a lampshade.

Another friend immediately embarked on a diet to lose the weight she had piled on after having four children: she bumped into her former husband at a cousin’s wedding and he said: ‘You look tired. Like a deflated tyre.’

After a year, you will emerge a slightly different person and then will be able to dress and behave accordingly without fear of ridicule.

To hurry into heels is disrespectful, I think, to what you had together; to what you might have in the future...

Not always easy, but you can always lie. I once paid to have a photo of me airbrushed before I put it on Facebook; I was miffed to find it was futile, as he had unfriended me. I now have to bribe my nephew, still his FB friend, to let me spy on him (I know I have broken my own rule, see below, but I couldn’t resist).

I spent about a year not exfoliating, but this means you are never open to the possibility of meeting someone else. A brief holiday from hygiene can be comforting, but if it seeps into two years, you need to book yourself into the Priory.