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The collected opinions of an august and aristocratic personage who, despite her body having succumbed to the ravages of time, yet retains the keen intellect, mordant wit and utter want of tact for which she was so universally lauded in her younger days. Being of a generation unequal to the mysterious demands of the computing device, Lady Bracknell relies on the good offices of her Editor for assistance with the technological aspects of her journal.

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Location: Bracknell Towers

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Lady Bracknell offers advice on choice of apparel for the less mobile lady

Since her last blog entry, Lady Bracknell has been musing on the conflicts which inevitably arise when a lady with considerable physical frailties and limitations attempts to dress within the accepted mores of society whilst striving to retain a degree of comfort.

Lady Bracknell has herself been forced to forego the wearing of stockings. The rigidity in her hips prevents her from donning them without aid. Also, for reasons she has not yet been able to fathom, none of her servants will submit to assisting her in this task. Not even for ready money. Lady Bracknell is deeply grieved that her failure to wear stockings may lead persons of quality to suspect that her title was bestowed upon her by virtue of her late husband having been in trade. Indeed, her slumbers were disturbed for some time by this very suspicion. But Lady Bracknell's character is one which will not for long be bowed by concerns of what those who do not know her intimately might think of her. She will not confine herself to her withdrawing room in perpetuity in response to a fashion faux pas which is outwith her personal capacities to correct.

Leaving aside Lady Bracknell's servant problem re stockings for the moment, she has wasted many shillings in the past on clothing which, in the event, proved to have been chosen in error in relation to her physical complaints. To prevent similar frustrating purchases amongst her lady readers who are as yet unpractised in the art of dressing to minimise pain, Lady Bracknell offers the following advice.

  • When choosing frocks, ensure that they are fashioned from a modern fabric containing the miracle ingredient of lycra. Should a lady who experiences chronic lower back pain persist in donning a frock fashioned from a more rigid fabric, she should not be surprised if, when bending forwards from a seated posture - as, for example, when she is formally introduced to a clergyman and must, out of good manners, shake his hand - she experiences a sudden bolt of pain so dramatic as to have an almost emetic effect. Similar consideration should be given to blouses and other 'separates' the hemlines of which fall below the lady's hips. These can be worn in safety, but their wearer must remember at all times not to trap the hem beneath her posterior when she seats herself.
  • Lady Bracknell does not believe that it would be a kindness to her social equals to inflict her legs upon them. She therefore favours the ankle length skirt. This should result in no risk when perambulating on level ground. Ladies should take care though, when ascending a staircase, to gather the excess length up by hand temporarily. Failure to observe this principle may lead a lady to trip. An indignity which no lady in her middle years would wish to experience, particularly under the gaze of members of the lower orders. Managing servants is hard enough in these uncertain times without the suspicion that the simpletons are snickering behind their hands at their mistress's clumsiness.

Lady Bracknell appreciates that she is able to provide advice on this subject only in relation to ladies who have pain in their lower backs. Readers whose physical complaints are of a different nature are invited to submit their own advice on the issue of suitable dress via the "comments" facility.


Blogger Charlesdawson said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:47 pm  
Blogger Charlesdawson said...

I gather from females of my acquaintance that it is possible for hiply challenged ladies to enrobe by the simple means of pulling everything over the head except for one garment which I will not particularise.

Has Lady Bracknell any words of wisdom for similarly challenged gentlemen, whose nether garments, after all, fork in the middle, thus rendering the head-downwards route difficult if not dangerous? And please don't take the piss by suggesting a kilt.

5:49 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Mr Dawson,

Lady Bracknell has taken the liberty of expunging the earlier of your two identical pleas for help.

It is all very well to rail against the kilt, but unless you are prepated to forego a garment with separate coverings for each leg, you may have to resort to draping a car blanket over your lap to hide your embarassment. The late Lord Bracknell was very attached to his striped flannel nightshirts, and Lady Bracknell's editor informs her that some modern young men have developed a fondness for the sarong.

7:02 pm  
Blogger Charlesdawson said...

Cool! I could wander around drinking gin and complaining about the natives!

Errr, I mean, I am much obliged to your ladyship for your most perceptive suggestion.

7:41 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Lady Bracknell is always gratified when a slight effort on her part has been of benefit to an otherwise wretched soul.

7:46 pm  
Blogger Charlesdawson said...

On further consideration, Lady Bracknell, I really think a kilt might be the best option. I don't like gin, come to think of it, and I would have to buy a car to get the blanket.

Your Ladyship might be aware that there is a rather spiffy tartan called Hunting Stewart. It would go with my eyes.

8:21 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Lady Bracknell is saddened that you have rejected the flannel nightshirt option, as she has fond memories of her late husband when so attired...

8:46 pm  
Blogger stella said...

Dear Lady Bracknell,

I've been reading your blog with interest! Very nice! But I'm afraid you've started to have an effect on my mannerisms.

I arrived at work this morning and checked out some blogs before heading into a meeting with our graphic designers. About ten minutes in my boss suddenly said "Ah Stell, can I ask why you're suddenly talking like you just jumped off the page of a Jane Austen book? Have you lapsed back into your Colin Firth obsession again? I was hoping we'd dealt with that...."

I had to admit that I'd simply been reading the intelligent musings of a most articulate fellow crip. Although I do fancy myself as Elizabeth Bennett incarnate! Many thanks for making my work day more interesting!

Fond regards,
Stella (oh, call me Lizzy if you must) ;-)

7:26 am  
Blogger Charlesdawson said...

Dear Lady Bracknell

I wouldn't dream of rejecting the flannel nighshirts, it is only out of the deepest respect for his late Lordship that I feel I could never live up to the image.

Besides which, they bind at the crutch somethink chronic.

Did I say that?

7:49 am  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...


The old harridan's out doing good works, or some such nonsense, so I've finally got the opportunity to do something on this blog other than just poring over her copperplate handwriting and typing it up online for her.

Her style of speech gets locked into MY brain too, and I find myself composing business emails in overly archaic and formal language. Not to mention speaking in Edith Evans' voice.

She'll be pleased that you've enjoyed her work to date, and probably even more pleased that it's had the effect you describe.

If you check back in a few days, I'm hoping that my partner in graphics crime will have produced a portrait of her ladyship for the blog.

All the very best,

The Editor

5:45 pm  

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