Ariana Madix on Finding Her 'Armor' in a Striking Red 'Revenge' Dress: 'It Wasn't Planned' (Exclusive Excerpt)

The 'Vanderpump Rules' star and 'Dancing with the Stars' finalist's new book, 'Single AF Cocktails,' hits shelves on Dec. 5

<p>Ariana Madix/ Instagram</p>

Ariana Madix/ Instagram

Even as Ariana Madix showed remarkable restraint in the weeks after discovering her then-boyfriend Tom Sandoval's months-long affair with friend and Vanderpump Rules castmate Rachel "Raquel" Leviss, the dress she chose for the Bravo show's season 10 reunion spoke volumes.

Boldly baring her toned abs in a "firecracker" ensemble (which was actually a two-piece pairing of a lipstick red crop jacket and cutout pencil skirt from Lebanese womenswear brand MONOT), Madix's impossibly confident entrance at the reunion prompted Lisa Vanderpump to comment on the spot: "That's a revenge dress if I ever saw one."

"I know," chimed in reunion host Andy Cohen. "She's like Princess Diana."

That spring, when she wasn't creating new signature style moments, Madix was rolling up her sleeves to write Single AF Cocktails: Drinks for Bad B*tches (out Dec. 5).

The book is a set of sippable stories telling how she has reclaimed her power in the months since the abrupt end of her nine-year relationship, and for the "Revenge Dress" recipe, she reinvents her reunion outfit not once but twice. The striking spread features a photo of Madix in a power pose, donning a sequined riff on her look from March that somehow manages to be even sexier than the first version. Naturally, she complements it with "a fiery red Negroni."

Related: Ariana Madix Is 'Reclaiming' Her Power, 1 Cocktail at a Time, to Prove 'People Wrong' Who Doubted Her (Exclusive)

<p>Kelly Puleio</p>

Kelly Puleio

Chatting with PEOPLE ahead of her book's release, she says of the viral style moment: "It wasn't planned. I just wanted to have something that I felt good in, that I felt strong in."

She also clarifies, "The word 'revenge' has never come out of my mouth. It's something that was said by Andy in the moment and was a really nice thing to say. ... And yeah, it was a moment that it helped me feel like I had some sort of armor."

Whether revenge was the aim or not, the style statement marked an important step on the transformative journey Madix's breakup kick-started nearly nine months ago.

Related: Ariana Madix Rewears Version of Her Scandoval 'Revenge Dress' for Fiery ‘Dancing with the Stars’ Debut 

As someone who has been outspoken about her struggles with mental health, Madix has used the volatility and vulnerability of the past year to shed some of her emotional baggage.

"I've been such an anxious person for so long, and it's gotten me nowhere," she acknowledges. "So now I just, with less anxiety, just kind of say, 'F--- it.'"

Below, read the inside story of the "Revenge Dress" cocktail — and learn how to infuse the gin libation with an eye-catching pop of color.

<p>Nicole Weingart/Bravo via Getty</p>

Nicole Weingart/Bravo via Getty

Best Served Cold

Serves 1

1 oz. strawberry-infused Campari (see below)
1 oz. gin
1 oz. sweet vermouth
Ice cubes
Orange peel, to garnish

  • Combine the Campari, gin, and vermouth in a mixing glass with ice

  • Stir to chill

  • Strain into a rocks glass over several fresh ice cubes

  • Garnish with an orange peel

Before the taping of the Vanderpump Rules reunion show, I got together with my amazing stylist Emily Men to figure out what to wear for the episode. For most reunion shows, I would wear something simple, like a little black dress, but I knew this time around my outfit needed to make a bold statement. When she pulled out an amazing red top and skirt combo, we were both immediately obsessed. During the taping, Andy Cohen mentioned how it reminded him of Princess Diana’s iconic revenge dress after Prince Charles confessed his infidelity on national television. Turns out the best way to get revenge on an ex is to simply remind them of how you’re a total firecracker, with or without them. 

As a tribute to that bold red dress, this cocktail is a fiery red Negroni made with strawberry-infused Campari.

Strawberry-Infused Campari
Makes 12 oz.

10 strawberries 
12 oz. Campari aperitivo

  • Cut the green tops off of the strawberries and cut them in half

  • Combine with 12 ounces of Campari in a large jar with a lid

  • Shake to combine

  • Let the berries infuse overnight

  • Strain the Campari into another jar

  • (Keep the infused strawberries; they’re delicious on their own or spooned over vanilla ice cream)

  • Store the infusion in the jar for up to 30 days in the refrigerator

Excerpted from Single AF Cocktails. Published by Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2023 by Ariana Madix.

<p>Clarkson Potter</p>

Clarkson Potter

**This recipe was provided to PEOPLE by a chef, restaurant or culinary professional. It has not been tested for home use.**

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Single AF Cocktails is out Dec. 5 everywhere books are sold, and Vanderpump Rules can be streamed in full on Peacock. Madix will compete in the Dancing with the Stars finale Tuesday on ABC.

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Read the original article on People.