Reader Mailbag: Addressing — and Recognizing — Proper Ladies

In this Sunday Series, readers ask the last queen of the Ancien Regime questions about etiquette, love and life. To have your question answered, write Marie Antoinette at whatwouldmarieantoinettedo at gmail dot com.

A proper lady will not allow her mousse and chocolat to dangle from her chemise, as Madonna demonstrates in this photo by Steve Klein.

Dear Queen ( I do not know how to formally salute you :P),

One of the questions I most ever wanted to ask you is: According to your point of view…with what  words should a real lady be most commonly described? I can assure you, that after I will have received and read your response (one to which I am most dearly looking forward to), because of my deepest admiration to you (if it can be called admiration), my normal day-to-day life and behavior will be impacted tremendously.

Yours truly,

I ate too much cake

Mlle Beaucoup Gateau, You flatter me with your words and remind me of my days at Versailles, when being the daughter of Maria Theresa held a sobering affect on young and old. Your question on how one describes a lady is a good one, and as one knows, a question well asked is often already half-answered. Before one describes a lady one most know if one has encountered a lady in the first place. This is not an easy feat. I’ve devised this list for modern queens that are a fit for provincial ladies all the more. The ones due your respect will inspire your good wishes. The others will inspire you in other ways, but you must resist those bad feelings and ignore those creatures altogether lest you talk below your class. Being born common is no excuse for acting common.

P.S.:  You can call me “Your Majesty”

Showing Your Rank: A Queen (or lady) Shows her Station

  • A queen does not wear her cell phone in her cleavage.
  • A queen resists the urge to pull her brassiere through her sleeve.
  • A queen does not fight in bars, even when she’s right.
  • A queen would never call a girl a “bitch.” She’s not that imprecise.
  • A queen is freshly pressed, unstained and unmussed.
  • A queen wears her underpinnings (but never shows us proof).
  • A queen sits with her knees crossed or locked (As a matter of habit, her knees know each other well).
  • A queen walks in yoga pants as she’d walk in a ballgown.
  • A queen wears Lycra only to the beach and to the gym.
  • A queen doesn’t carry a flask or make things “Irish.”
  • A queen speaks. She does not cackle, burp or create noises heard in Jersey bars.
  • A queen abhors cursing. It is common and she is not.
  • A queen always forgives but she never forgets.
  • A queen has but one hand gesture in her repertoire (and that’s the friendly wave).

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