The Key to Revenge Clothing in 2024

Revenge is a dish best served looking hot. It’s a style strategy that women all over the world have been putting into practice—and it’s never felt more powerful than it does in 2024.

Tonight marks 30 years since the concept of the ‘revenge dress’ was born when Diana, Princess of Wales, turned up at the Serpentine Summer Party in a Little Black Dress by Greek designer Christina Stambolian.

It was no coincidence that just as her car pulled up, her estranged husband appeared on national television and confessed to his affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles. Diana, meanwhile, was an absolute knockout – and was photographed as such by the waiting paparazzi.

Diana's famous Little Black Dress was created by Greek designer Christina Stambolian

Diana’s famous Little Black Dress was designed by Greek designer Christina Stambolian – Anwar Hussein

“She knew what she was doing that night in 1994 and probably foresaw the impact it would have on the headlines the next day,” says Eloise Moran, author of The Lady Di Lookbook.

There’s a way for all of us to harness the vengeful chutzpah — whether you’re a midlifer who remembers living through Charles and Diana’s ordeals in real time and is now going through your own breakup, or you’re a member of the TikTok generation who’s just discovered the concept.

Few have done it better since then than TV presenter Maya Jama, who wore a black velvet AloNuko dress with a thigh split and sweetheart neckline to the 2020 Brit Awards, the year after her split from rapper Stormzy, who also happened to be in attendance at the event. Her stylist Kyle de Volle confirms that the look was directly inspired by Princess Diana’s 1994 outfit, which she wore a few months before Jama was born.

Maya Jama wearing a black velvet AloNuko dress with a thigh slit and Diana-esque sweetheart neckline to the 2020 Brit AwardsMaya Jama wearing a black velvet AloNuko dress with a thigh split and a Diana-esque sweetheart neckline at the 2020 Brit Awards

Following her split from Stormzy, Maya Jama wore a black velvet AloNuko dress with a thigh slit to the 2020 Brit Awards – Getty

“Diana is up there with my style icons, I love everything about her, but that look especially because it was so different to anything she’d ever worn before,” de Volle told The Telegraph. “She just went for it and the whole outfit was completely against protocol. Her knees are out, her shoulders are out, it’s a dark colour that royals usually reserve for mourning.”

“My love for that look has seeped into my styling work,” he continues. “Diana was my reference for that moment with Maya Jama. Of course [Jama and Stormzy] are back together now and all love each other, but at the time we wanted to make sure Maya looked great. She’s so experimental when it comes to fashion and she’s always up for trying things out, so she was all for it. She said, ‘let’s do it’.”

Jama made headlines that night with a powerful, confident and undeniably sexy presence, with a “look what you’re missing” energy. Jama is joined by a line-up of famous women who have nailed revenge outfits in recent years.

Jerry Hall, recently divorced from Rupert Murdoch, restarted her modeling career last year at the age of 66 by posing in a black Thierry Mugler x H&M minidress in sultry images that showed off her famously long legs with a hint of Last Laughter indifference. In recent months, actress Natalie Portman, 43, has reclaimed the press story about her split from her husband of 11 years Benjamin Millepied by trading in her usual conservative elegant style for a statement red co-ord, blazer mini dress and simple jeans and a white t-shirt, paired with a cigarette and Paul Mescal – images that sent social media wild with speculation about the nature of their relationship.

Natalie Portman has traded in her conservative, elegant style for bolder looks since her split from Benjamin MillepiedNatalie Portman has traded in her conservatively elegant style for a more daring look since her split from Benjamin Millepied

Natalie Portman has traded in her conservatively elegant style for a edgier look since her split from Benjamin Millepied – Getty

Does revenge dressing always have to involve wearing a conventionally sexy dress? Not necessarily, argues De Volle, which is reassuring because you can do it to varying degrees. “The whole point of revenge dressing is to turn your current style on its head, it has to be a look that no one has ever seen you in before,” he advises. “It can be achieved by a new haircut, a great new pair of heels or a new makeup look; there is so much power, even in a red lip. If you want to show someone what they’re missing, you have to amplify that and do something different.”

If you’re not a celebrity and want to convey your revenge message in an obvious way, you can be more subdued, even if you simply wear a beautiful outfit in a color or style that your ex didn’t like or that your ex might liked. Just kidding about that. Or take the lead of Nicole Kidman who, after her divorce from Tom Cruise, suddenly wore high heels again after years of not wanting to rise above her little ex on the red carpet.

Nicole Kidman wore heels to the 'Moulin Rouge' premiere in CannesNicole Kidman wore heels to the 'Moulin Rouge' premiere in Cannes

Nicole Kidman wore heels to the Cannes premiere of ‘Moulin Rouge’ – Getty

It’s also worth noting that revenge dressing doesn’t have to be aimed at your ex-partner, but can be reframed as restoring your individual self-esteem and doing something that is uplifting and empowering to you, at your conditions. Recently divorced Anita Rani wore a sheer glittering dress to the BAFTAs last month and later told The Telegraph how “an Asian woman wearing a revealing dress has wowed people”.

Anita Rani wore a sheer glittering dress at the BAFTAsAnita Rani wore a sheer sparkly dress to the BAFTAs

Anita Rani wore a sheer, sparkly dress to the BAFTAs – Shane Anthony Sinclair/BAFTA/Getty

You don’t even have to go through a breakup to get revenge. Maybe you’ve just left a job you hated or recovered from an illness and want to feel in control again – post-pandemic, the term ‘revenge shopping’ was coined to describe anyone who spent money to protect themselves. looking forward to being able to shop and socialize freely again.

There are a number of brands that specialize in modern, sensual dresses. “David Koma, Nensi Dojaka or even a Valentino number if you have the budget for it,” are among De Volle’s recommendations. “For a sexy, sexy number that will turn heads [Koma],” he smiles.



One shoulder, £1605, David Koma; Dots, £295, Rixo

Elsewhere, Rixo and Ghost make excellent dresses that are cut diagonally, so they hug your figure without being too tight, and come in prints full of attitude. You can happily party away your anger in one of the form-fitting creations from Rotate Birger Christensen or Self Portrait. Black is always a good idea, but anything red, lace or animal print carries the same stylish vengeful spirit.

But most importantly, look at the way Diana got out of her car that evening. Shoulders back, head up and a big smile on her face. Whatever you wear, arm yourself with that confidence and the feeling of sweet revenge is sure to follow.

Three more murderous revenge dresses…



Red dress, £400, Self-portrait; Zebra print, £260, Turn Birgir Christensen



Leopard print, £35.99, Zara

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