Dames-Approved Bros, Practically Perfect Advice, and A Cavalcade of Unwaxed Chests

Dames Nation, last Sunday we fell for you like an egg from a tall chicken. All over again.

THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH for coming to our CHARADE livetweet and, once again, making it the most best and most fun. You are a treasure and we can’t wait to spend another Sunday livetweeting with you in the near future.


Jason Schwartzman didn't know Jon Brion. We are nicer than Marky Mark. 

This week, after intending to do it for almost a year, Dame Margaret finally added all her favorite Not-Available-On-Spotify music to her iPhone. While this incredibly mundane detail about DM’s personal data management hardly seems newsletter-worthy, it DID lead to her rediscovering Jon Brion’s phenomenal and tragically out-of-print album Meaningless, which in turn led her to wonder: Do you guys know how GREAT Jon Brion is??? Let us count the ways:

Basically, he’s amazing, and Dame Margaret would like you to come talk with her on Twitter about how he should start writing Broadway musicals and which properties (other than Eternal Sunshine) he should adapt.

Meet us in Montauk.

Advice Corner!
Well, we arebossy. Got a question? Hit us up! We aim to answer one or two of these each week.

Hey Dames,

I grew up in a religiously conservative community that looked down on makeup/fashion/hairstyling as vain and immodest. I am in my 20s now and can do whatever the hell I want, so I want to create a sense of style that truly reflects my sexy/sassy side more effectively. The thing is, I don't really know where to begin. Do you have any advice for making the leap from fashion baby to fashion babe?


Dearest M,

First of all, going the privacy-protecting single-initial route is extremely stylish. It’s the early 21st century version of Cher or Rihanna (though it could probably be argued that Rihanna is the early 21st century version of Rihanna). We are picturing you in an initial necklace of your own design.

The most crucial piece of advice we have for you is this: The first few times you try anything new, you are going to feel self-conscious. You’re going to feel like everyone is staring at you. You’re going to feel like they’re thinking “Who does she think she is, dressing up all purposefully like that, wearing {insert new thing you’re wearing here}? Does she think she’s somebody special??” And we’re going to need you to tell those imagined voices to Fuck Directly Off. Dressing boldly and consciously is an act of self-care and, in a society engineered to make women feel ashamed for caring about themselves, it can secretly be a scary, rebellious act. So: Just know that hearing those voices as you try on your first jumpsuit or bold lip is a natural part of the process. Don’t let encountering it knock you flat or make you think that you’re on the wrong path. Push through it into the joy of knowing that you are someone special. Push through till you find the outfits that feel like you’re telling the world not just “I’m someone special” but “Yes, I’m someone special, and here’s exactly how.

Now, that necessary corrective to society-at-large out of the way, how do you find your look? Here are some practical starting points:

  • First and most important: Give yourself a little time to be brave and playful. Set aside a day when you can go shopping in real life and--if possible--bring a friend with either bold taste, a supportive attitude, or both. (If such a friend is not forthcoming, you can text Dame Margaret dressing room pictures, she’s not even a little bit joking.) Give yourself permission to try on anything that catches your eye, even if it seems like something that won’t look any good on you. If you feel yourself starting to get disheartened, remember: It’s clothing’s job to look good on your body, not your body’s job to look good in clothing. Your body has MUCH more important stuff to worry about. So, does that midi skirt give you agita about your legs? Lay it off. It’s not doing its job. Find another skirt that makes you feel like the best version of yourself. On this day, you don’t have to buy anything. Your only job is to get a sense for the kind of clothing that makes you feel excited.

  • Embrace serendipity: there’s an element of this in all shopping expeditions, but you can step up this factor - and the likelihood of getting an excellent deal - by shopping at resale shops. These can run the gamut from one step above a yard sale to a nearly boutique discount shopping experience, and at the latter end, are staffed by people who love fashion and enjoy matching you with items that will make you feel and look great.

  • Have fun with your closet. Look over what you own, pick out the stuff that feels like YOU, and just play dress up. Mix patterns. Wear colors together that don’t “match.” Tuck a shirt you’ve never tucked. Untuck one you’ve always tucked. BELT THINGS, belts are magic. You’ll find outfits this way you never even knew you owned and you’ll get a sense of what you like when you let yourself experiment.

  • Don't fret about finding your signature look. If you spent your childhood & teens being forced to squash this aspect of yourself, you haven’t had time to develop your eye. Now is the time for you to, as the Great Ms. Frizzle so wisely put it, take chances & make mistakes (and get messy, if you find that that's part of your aesthetic). Find what works for 2015 You, and worry about what 2017 You will think about it later.

  • Look for style role models! For Dame Margaret, TV has been a great source of them, because (1) it shows looks that are a mix between idealized and accessible, and (2) it shows sustained fashion. So you can watch characters you love and identify with over different seasons, at differing levels of formality, through personal and professional growth, etc. AND, thanks to our current cultural obsession with dissecting TV, if you find someone whose look you love, chances are some dedicated person out there is obsessed, too, and has taken to documenting what your role model is wearing and where to buy it. But you can find them anywhere: just keep your eyes open and note anything that makes you feel delight.

  • Relatedly, ask a friend or two. Do you have that one friend whose cat-eye eyeliner is always on point? Whose lip glosses light up her whole face? Ask her for a tutorial, and incorporate the word “dupe” (as in “Super Fancy Product dupe”) into your Google searching to find spendy beauty products at drugstore prices. If you prefer to play around on your own, or if your most glamorous pal lives far away, you may find a YouTube-based hair, makeup or fashion genius to inspire you on Bim Adewunmi’s recent round-up of glamazons based in the UK.

  • If you can find a fashion blogger whose look you like, then you, friend, have struck Style Role Model Gold. Beyond the essential Advanced Style, Dames Margaret and Sophie don’t follow this arena much (as we’re basically our own Style Role Models already), but we bet you anything that our readers have some favorites they can bring to your/our attention. READERS! If our suspicions are correct, tweet us with your faves -- blogs, YouTubers, Pinterest boards, Instagrammers, smoke signallers, etc. -- and we’ll put them in a round-up next week!

  • Once you start amassing images or ICONS or tutorials, Pinterest can be a big help for keeping track of them. One of the best features for Look Building that Pinterest can offer you is the ability to see what else other people are pinning from websites you’ve pinned from. It’s a great way to find garments you might have overlooked or new fashion bloggers or great beauty tutorials.

  • Work your way up to integrating your new, bolder looks into your life gradually. Start out wearing them in supportive environments (AKA any time you get together with your female friends and do ANYTHING that may once have been featured on an episode of Sex and the City) to build confidence and then--over time--introduce them into your day-to-day life.

  • Recognize that a certain dunderheaded portion of the world will be incapable of resisting comment any time you wear something unusual. These comments may be harmless in intent, but they make the process of transformation that much more stressful: if you’re wearing something different enough to be noteworthy, odds are it’s also different enough to leave you a bit self-conscious. So having people NOTE the difference constantly can be exhausting. To cope, do as Dames Margaret and Sophie did with their palsthis morning: Come up with the most ridiculous replies imaginable to everyone’s nosy questions. “Why so fancy?” “Oh, nothing big. Just getting lunch with my good friend, Queen Elizabeth II.” “Oh, you’re wearing a dress! Someone’s got a date!!” “Oh, no, don’t be silly! It’s just that my vestigial tail is so constrained when I wear pants. I wanted to give it a chance to breathe.” “Muahaha! My smoke-and-mirrors strategy is working!” “I switched it up today JUST to keep you on your toes.” It’s remarkably cathartic.

  • And, finally, if you’re ever wearing something great or have a specific fashion query to tackle, TWEET US! Consider us your on-call consultants.

Winter Can Jump In the Lake, Summer is Around The Corner:

Miscellany (Get In Mah Belly!)