The Displaced Nation

A home for international creatives

Dear Mary-Sue: Fashion tips for the hapless traveler

Mary-Sue Wallace, The Displaced Nation’s agony aunt, is back. Her thoughtful advice eases and soothes any cross-cultural quandary or travel-related confusion you may have. Tulsa’s answer to Donatella Versace this month she shares her sartorial expertise. Submit your questions and comments here, or else by emailing her at

Happy March to all you Mary-Suers!! Spring is almost here and in the paradise on earth otherwise known Tulsa the sky is blue, the birds are singing and ABC have debuted GCB. Yes, life is sweet – I’ve even made it a little sweeter by making myself a nice pitcher of iced tea while I sit down on the patio and read through the Tulsa Herald to see if there are any interesting yard or estate sales in town this weekend. Anyhoo on with this month’s theme which is fashion – something little ol’ Mary-Sue knows a thing or two about.


Dear Mary-Sue,

I’m a serial expat and just now moved to Canada from Mexico. Everyone tells met that sooner or later, I’ll have to invest in one of those ugly puffy coats that make everyone look like the Michelin Man, so as to survive the winters. Can you think of any alternative, or some way to jazz up the look?

Tatiana from Toronto

Dear Tatiana from Toronto,

The first thing you’ll discover is that the wind chill factor is a PAIN!!! Even though some days it’s going to seem clear and crisp, it is going to be FREEZING. When it’s like this, you’re going to have to weigh up which is more important to you – snugness or elegance, drabness or hypothermia.

I’ll let you in on a Mary-Sue Wallace tip, when I go on my annual Reykjavik the first thing that I pack is my alpaca hat. I got it from my cousin, Mary-Ann Banville, who lives in California and owns an alpaca farm out there. Well, she makes great hats and sweaters from the alpaca wool – she also grows great avocados as well. Anyhoo, I make sure I’ve got my alpaca hat with me – in fact, I make sure I have it whenever I go north of the 49th parallel. Hubby Jake says it makes me look like a smurf, but he’s no Brian Williams in the looks department and I’m sure you’d look darling in one.

The other thing that you need to do is earn the art of layering. Indulge in some nice autumnal colors, invest in an attractive overcoat and some lovely scarves.


Dear Mary-Sue,

I’ve just now moved to Los Angeles from the UK, and I notice that everyone here has straight white teeth. Mine are the usual tea-stained crooked ones that English people have, so I’m feeling very self-conscious. Would you recommend that I get adult braces?

Lily from Lancaster

Dear Lily,

You’re in LA, first things first, get your cheeks, nose and boobies done first, then you can move onto the teeth.


Dear Mary-Sue,

I’ve been in Taiwan teaching English for about a year, and I can’t get over how spoiled the dogs here are. Each of them has several little outfits. I know I should be tolerant of other cultures, but I can’t help but think it’s a ridiculous and wasteful custom. Wouldn’t you agree?

Sally from Seattle

Oh Sally,

I know you’re from Seattle and jaded by caffeine and hipsterdom, but get over yourself girl! Would it help if you viewed it all ironically?

My dachshund, Eudora Welty, has a cute little burberry coat. Yes, you’re probably rolling your eyes Sally, try to enjoy life a little more. This is why me and my girlfriends, Sondra and Tilly, are going to Krakow this summer. I’ll be sure to post a picture of Eudora in her Joan of Arc costume up on here.


Anyhoo, that’s all from me readers. I’m so keen to hear about your cultural issues and all your juicy problems. Do drop me a line with any problems you have, or if you want to talk smack about Delilah Rene.

Mary-Sue is a retired travel agent who lives in Tulsa with her husband Jake. If you have any questions that you would like Mary-Sue to answer, you can contact her at, or by adding to the comments below.

STAY TUNED for Monday’s post.

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5 responses to “Dear Mary-Sue: Fashion tips for the hapless traveler

  1. wanderingeducators March 9, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    I can’t stop laughing. I hope you’ll have a followup soon – what about all those beach travels?

    • awindram March 9, 2012 at 11:18 pm

      Thanks for commenting. Mary-Sue will certainly back, and there’s also a number of older posts by her on this site. There some links to them at the bottom of Mary-Sue’s post.

  2. Michi March 12, 2012 at 6:43 am

    I love this! More Mary-Sue, please!

  3. Pingback: Dear Mary-Sue: Mad Mad Mad expat men & their fashion & beauty quirks « The Displaced Nation

  4. Pingback: Dear Mary-Sue: Mad Mad Mad expat men & their fashion & beauty quirks « The Displaced Nation

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