I Tried the Lady Mary Diet

With New York Fashion Week playing the role as my Downton Abbey


If you level your bottom jaw at a 90 degree angle you’ll be amazed at how quickly that bit of winter double trouble disappears, your twin chins demoted from two to one. It not only momentarily erases any evidence of your dedication to eating the entire pizza — because who throws out a perfectly good crust? — but it straightens your back, pulls your stomach in and, as fate would have it, demonstrates proper British etiquette like in Downton Abbey.

You’ll find that the Lady Mary Diet has immediate results.

Lady Hairy

I’m no historian, but I also kind of am considering Downton spans from 1912 to 1925. And if I’ve learned anything from the Dowager Countess of Grantham other than the merit of a Victorian lace collar, it’s that a lady rarely does anything, let alone her hair, which is fantastic because I am lazy.

I also have weak arms.

This meant that for three alternating days during fashion week, I started each morning at 8 a.m. with zero calisthenics and one hell of a blowout. A raised port glass to Glamsquad here for stepping in where my useless roommate Lev would not. Lev refused to play the role of my lady’s maid, and a lady’s maid always does her lady’s hair.


Lev pointed out that to have a “lady’s maid” would be terribly un-P.C. in 2015, to which I pointed out that words like “terribly” should only be used by a trained professional such as myself.

Lady Manners

The second and largest component of my Downton Abbey diet was the etiquette training. Ever the journalist, I signed myself up for a class with manners master Myka Meier of Beaumont Etiquette. She said my handshake was good and my hair was “lovely” but that I needed to polish my shoes.

I also close doors incorrectly.

You’re supposed to: walk in, swing the door open, swap hands behind your spine — keep facing forward — and close with the alternating hand. Never turn your back to the room. Sorry George Constanza and your dreams of a backless dress entrance.

Myka taught me how Lady Mary would have used her fork (it involves delicately placing peas on top of overturned prongs, which is impossible, which is why Lady Mary is so thin).

She taught me how to properly sit down in a chair — something that until now, I never knew I’d been doing so wrong.


We’re a relaxed household.

And though I already knew the proper layout of silverware on a table, she told me when to use what and coached me in the fine art of mouth-rejecting a bite of something disgusting. You’re supposed to be discreet and use a napkin as opposed to shout, “GROSS!!” Who knew?

Most importantly, she taught me that, “Etiquette is all about being kind, thoughtful, gracious, empowering and positive to everyone around you.”

Hence, no shouting gross. Also hence, no cursing — something that is extremely, terribly (Suck it, Lev; Sorry, Myka!) hard for me.

Here’s where acting like Lady Mary helped me during fashion week:

– While exiting cars (I can now do so with grace).

– When air kissing: always start right cheek to left, twice if you’re British, once if you’re American, three times if you’re Swiss and nine if you’re nasty.

– While enduring crosstown traffic.

Here is where it was hard/impossible:

– Eating salad from the car on the go, which does not lend itself to proper fork-and-knife manners.

– When people weren’t ready for my second cheek kiss and so we mouth-kissed.

– When traffic made me miss a show and I had to scream “fuck.”

As with the end of all diets, one must assess how much they’ve changed. Did I lose weight? No. I hate peas — and I like the way I use my fork. But thanks to Myka’s instruction I would feel comfortable eating next to a royal person or my riding instructor (Lady Mary and I have horses in common!), who, by the way, complimented my elegant posture.

More than anything, though, channeling Lady Mary gave me the confidence to navigate the underlying hierarchy of fashion week with more ease. This I swear.

It also, as I said, proved the quickest fix for end-of-winter double chins.

Attention to all who wish to eat peas like a lady, among other things that would be good to know in the presence of more than one fork: Myka Meier is offering Man Repeller readers a modern social etiquette class. Visit her website for more info.

See more Man Repeller Diets here.

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