The Displaced Nation

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Tag Archives: Dear Prudence

Dear Mary-Sue: Mad Mad Mad expat men & their fashion & beauty quirks

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. With this month’s theme being fashion and Mary-Sue being Tulsa’s answer to Donatella Versace, she’s keen to share her sartorial expertise with Displaced Nation readers. Submit your questions and comments here, or else by emailing her at

You Mary-Suers are an insatiable lot, aren’t you? One big helping of my advice wasn’t enough for y’all this month, so after popular demand following my earlier post on fashion, I’ve been asked back. So that’s two lots of Mary-Sue for you this month — or “double the trouble” as Jake (or Mr Mary-Sue Wallace, as my pastor calls him) likes to say. (My how we laugh at that little joke! Well, I do and the pastor does — Jake doesn’t.)

Anyhoo, if my latest mailbag is anything to go by, I’m finding some interesting (or should that be alarming?) insights into my readership. Seems a lot of my readership skews male and weird — story of my life!

Am I right, or am I right?!


Dear Mary-Sue,

About a year ago, I moved to the United States from the UK and find I’m now in thrall to the Mad Men series, which has just now started up again on AMC.

My obsession has grown to the point where I’m thinking of getting a retro hair style similar to Don Draper’s. I’ve enclosed a photo of myself to get your opinion on whether that would look good or if it might be too natty?


Tim from Tunbridge Wells via Trenton

Dear Tim from Tunbridge Wells (incidentally my cousin Janine visited there last summer – MS),

Hmmm, I’ll be honest, I’m not convinced this Mad Men malarkey is going to last. Sure, it’s the flavor of the month at the moment, but will we still be talking about Don Draper and his style in thirty years’ time in the way we still talk about Magnum P.I.?

I think not!

My advice to you, Tim, is to grow a mustache like Tom Selleck’s. Having seen the photo you’ve enclosed, you’ll still look like a drunk manatee, but at least you’ll look like a drunk manatee with a Tom Selleck mustache. I can’t promise that it’ll make you look good or natty, but you will definitely be a talking point.


Dear Mary-Sue,

I’m from Germany but am now living in London. At the suggestion of my new English girlfriend, I’ve been browsing this mantyhose site ( TBH, I can’t decide among the white, the military green, or the ones with patterns (eg, checkerboard, stars, or stripes). Since I’m a newbie to this trend, I wonder if you could give me your thoughts? (I’ve enclosed photos of myself in the mantyhose.)

Hans from Hamburg via Holland Park

Dear Hans from Hamburg,

Thank you for the photograph you sent me. (I don’t know why everyone is so insistent on sending pictures of themselves to me this week. And not a looker among you. I mean I don’t expect all my male admirers to be Tom Selleck or Richard Chamberlain lookalikes, but when it gets to the point where I’d settle for you being an Al Roker lookalike — well, that’s one slim pickings I’ve got.) More importantly, thank you for including a return address on your envelope, the authorities say that will make it very easy to track you down.

I don’t know why you’d think I’d want to see that. You must have mistaken me for Dear Prudence over on Slate.


Dear Mary-Sue,

I just moved from Oslo to Oshkosh. I have a suitcase full of trousers in different colors — salmon pink, sky blue, red rose, and kelly green. Back home, these are the latest trend, but looking around here in Wisconsin, I’m afraid I might stand out a little too far in the crowd. Do you think I can get away with wearing them and if so, which color(s)?

Nils from Norway

Dear Nils,

Quite why you’re so bothered with what people from Wisconsin think of your clothes is bizarre to me. Anything other than stretch denim is probably going to draw attention out there.

What I would suggest is that you go with yellow-colored pants. That’ll probably sate your Nordic desire for garish pants. What you can do is claim that they’re your cheese pants and that you’ve picked them out as they’re the same shade of yellow as a fine (though that’s a relative term in this context) Wisconsin cheddar. I’m sure you can convince them that it’s your weird pants-based way of paying tribute to the state’s cheese industry.

Best of luck!


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. She is the best-selling author of Traveling Made Easy, Low-Fat Chicken Soup for the Traveler’s Soul, The Art of War: The Authorized Biography of Samantha Brown, and William Shatner’s TekWar: An Unofficial Guide. 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 Tuesday’s post. Mary-Sue has heard it’s going to be great.

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