Advice: How Do I Look Like I Belong

It’s Sunday, and regular readers know what that means. Today Marie Antoinette helps Modern Maries of all walks of life navigate life’s social minefields. If you find yourself in need of advice from the former Queen of France, please email whatwouldmarieantoinettedo at gmail dot com.


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My Queen, 

I’ve been asked to attend a party but I’m thinking of backing out. I’ve discovered what the other women will be wearing and I don’t have anything like it. I’m worried that I’ll embarrass myself and be self-conscious the entire night. I also don’t have the cash to buy something I’d only wear for this party. What would you do? 

Dressed down

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Darling, 

First off, congratulations. Problems about parties are the best type. This is because the other hot buttons — health, love — are likely going more swimmingly. Let all our problems be about parties. 

Allow me to tell you a little story about when I was in jail. I apologize for matching your party story with a jail story. Once a girl has been in jail likely everyone starts to groan “Oh god, there goes Marie, talking about jail again”  but I think this might be useful to you.

My jailers at the Conciergerie were loathe to send me, now the former queen, new clothing. Which I understand, but nonetheless my shoes were caked in dirt and grime from the mildewy rust streaked prison floors, since they feared that even a shoe might hide a secret message or aid in my escape. All I had left were my black widow’s weeds. My clothes were worn and frayed and dependent on the employees of the prison who took pity and pitched in on the mending. Still, I wore my mourning clothes even to sleep, hoping to wear them to the scaffold. When I wore them to my trial the black fabric heightened the pallor of her pale, sickly skin, making this supposed monster a surprisingly sympathetic figure. I was forbidden from wearing her mourning clothes to the scaffold.

            Instead, I wore a white déshabillé dress my sister-in-law had sent me, along with a white chemise I’d managed to save just for the occasion. I pulled the black ribbon from my widow’s bonnet for a ruffled coif as pale as my hair, skin and entire ensemble. There I was, a figure stripped even of her right to mourn. My white skin, the color of the monarchy, was also the color of a ghost. I dressed simply, cleanly and plainly and held my head up high in that outfit in the rough cart the revolutionaries had brought to humiliate her. The spectators were stunned into silence.

I bring this up to mention two things.

1. There’s always another outfit. There’s a solution for what to wear that will work if you want to find it. Lean on your friend you invited you. She could help you sort through your closet for some solution or lend you something of her own. Surely you have a simple top and bottom that with the right necklace or brooch will seem as chic and 100 times as inventive as anything you’ll see at the party. 

2. It’s only an outfit. What matters more is how you carry yourself. Don’t hold back from anything because you can’t hold head up high. You belong to be anywhere you believe you belong. You might need some convincing of this, but I don’t, and I know you’ll prove me right.  

 

 

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