The Dame Tips: Your Qs and Her As

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The Dame Tips are a monthly guest series by wntta{t}’s resident Don Draper: an elegant hedonist who suffers no fools, The Dame herself, writer Ali Schofield.

My dearest dears, I am pleased to announce that I have returned from my holiday and am ready to resume my regular post as We Need To Talk About This’s resident elegant hedonist. While my instinct as a woman is to apologize for my absence, I will do no such thing. My Beloved and I have been summering on Cape Cod (as my Dear Companion would say, you know it’s fancy because the season is a verb.) We had a lovely time swimming in the ocean, whale watching and wandering through Provincetown, where a drag queen rides through the town on a bicycle everyday like in my most wonderful dreams. I return to you sun kissed, full of seafood and determined to be of service.

As I mentioned in my last correspondence, this conversation has been one sided for far too long, so over the summer you have sent me your questions on life, love, friendship, etiquette, and good taste, and I’m here to deliver on a few of those because I’m an expert in… well, just about everything.

Shall we begin?

Alexis writes, “How do I dress comfortably, yet stylishly for a presentation or speaking gig?” 


Excellent first question! Kudos, Alexis dear! Here is what I suggest: 

Step 1: Start by conceptualizing your outfit: think about what you would wear as an attendee to this event. Since you are the presenter though (you go, darling!) start in this vein and from there think about how you can elevate your look to be a little more distinguished.

Step 2: Seek comfort through confidence. Pick out an article of clothing that inspires a little swagger every time you wear it. Think for instance about outfits or pieces that you consistently get compliments on. It can be simple or eye-catching as long as it makes you smile whenever you pull it out of your closet. 

Step 3: Once you have your item, build the rest of the outfit around it. Worried it’s a little too fancy or a little too “cash”? A relaxed blazer is a great outfit neutralizer – it immediately dresses up jeans and dresses down your backless LBD. A silk scarf tied around the neck can also do the trick. Shoe choice is critical – choose something appropriate, classic and already broken in. Black pointy toe flats are my go-to.

Step 4: Add something that is unique to your style that will be memorable but not distracting. Think patterns, accessories, or eyewear that feel like one-of-a-kind pieces that speak to your personality. Stay away from sequins, large jewels (I know, just this once), and any headwear that the audience would talk about later instead of the knowledge you’re going to impart. 

For instance, in the spring I did a reading from the first draft of my book. It was at a casual bar in Yorkville, so I chose my favourite black sweater with puckered sleeves, an eye-catching chiffon skirt in stripes of vibrant colours that also gave some definition to my waist and finished it off with my dear Gma’s ruby brooch and witchy black flats. The full look was uniquely me, and I daresay, fabulous. 

If all else fails, you can never go wrong with a jumpsuit and structured blazer. Statement earrings are fantastic and low risk, they dress up everything. A patterned pencil skirt with a French tucked v-neck sweater and polished high bun is also divine. 

Heather writes, “Do you have any words of wisdom on social media etiquette?”

To be honest my love, I’m a bit of a social media grump, which actually probably makes me the perfect person to ask this question of. While I don’t partake in such online sharing very often (I rather spill my guts through writing, you see) here are a few musings, some on etiquette, others just ways to be considerate of your audience, that you might want to reflect on:

  • Give credit where credit is due. If you share a tweet, a photo or article you discovered from another user, be sure to give them a shout out. This I believe to be common courtesy. 

  • Be conscious of the double post. I understand that some people want to share photos on Instagram and the Facebook but seeing the exact same pictures of your Amsterdam vacation on both platforms can be a little tiresome for your followers. Consider sharing different photos or insights on each account or stagger your posts if it’s that important to share. I would say the only true exception to this is when it comes to once in a lifetime(ish) occasions. Even the haters will want to see that engagement ring twice, my sweet; we’re nosy, romantic little bitches.

  • Remember: sharing things on the internet is like hanging out under a bridge, one must expect to meet trolls. The internet is a wonderful place for dialogue, especially when people have opposing views. It’s difficult when so much of life is lived online but make an effort to try not to take things too personally if you receive a comment you don’t like. In 90% of cases whatever is said speaks more to the person saying it than of you. And if all else fails… 

  • Unplug. Heaven’s to Pete, please do this from time to time. Be one with nature. Have an afternoon that is so marvellous you forget to take any pictures.

Why does The Dame have such a great rack?

- Your Beloved

By the grace of God and Agent Provocateur, my love. Now get back in bed – I’ll join you in a moment. 

Aleena asks, “Is love supposed to find me? Or am I supposed to be proactive? Carpe diem or be patient?”

Oh darling, what a question. Hang on, I need another gin and tonic. 

Alright. I’m inclined to say a bit of both (not helpful, I know), but my main instinct, which comes both from personal experience and from my heart, is to tell you to carpe the fuck out of that diem. 


I know dating can be exhausting – I’ve been there, I’ve done that, I’ve written a whole damn column about it – but if you’re actively wanting love, I think it’s important to be out in the world and open to looking. As Joseph Joubert once said, “When you go in search of honey you must expect to be stung by bees.” This wisdom can apply to so much of life – working to be successful in your career, expecting rejections when you’re wanting to be published, the first couple times you try anal sex, etc. – and it’s just as true for dating. Perhaps start by considering this: if you keep to yourself and wait for something to happen will you regret not being more proactive later on? And is that better or worse than the possible feelings of hurt and exhaustion that might come from making an effort at finding a mate? 

What I believe more than anything is that love comes when you feel most like yourself: when you are confident, silly, doing things you enjoy, and when you’ve spent enough time with yourself to know who you are. I’ve been fortunate enough to be in love twice. It first found me when I least expected it (as the old adage goes), dancing under the African firmament while living abroad (a tragic tale for another day). But, when I met My Beloved, I had been out looking, wading through suitors until I found a man who saw my lovely little eccentricities, my intelligence, my dorkiness, my drunken Dameliness and embraced these things, cherished them (along with my bosoms, clearly). It is my belief that being yourself out in the world is the true key to finding love: if someone doesn’t like you for who you really are it will never work, and you will never be comfortable enough with them. You deserve someone who sees your wonderful little freak flag and wants to tattoo it on their chest. I’ve always said that being alone is better than being with the wrong person, and I still believe that. It’s much better to make yourself happy than to endure a partner that makes you miserable. 

The one thing I absolutely know for certain is that you never know what will happen. Whatever route you take to finding love, your attitude is the most important part. Be open, my dear, and take care of yourself. Take breaks. Don’t judge a book by its cover, difficult though that may be in the superficial age of swiping right. You have one life, my darling – at the very least fill it with good stories of a person with excellent character. Such a person is bound for love: love from a partner, love from friends, love of self. 

Well my dears, My Beloved doth beckon so I must bid you adieu. If you didn’t see your question answered here, do not fret. I may just answer it in our next edition of Ask The Dame. Have a new query you’d like a Damely answer to? I’ll collect them at thisisthedame@gmail.com and through DM’s to my infrequently posted upon but often checked @thisisthedame Instagram account (darling, interested though you may be in my life I can hardly be bothered to take pictures, but I do so love hearing from you.) Also, if you ask nicely, my alter ego @alscho will pass along messages too. Wink. 

Until sweater weather begins in earnest, my dears, I remain faithfully yours.

xoxo

The Dame