Is Mistress Corona a cruel one? Indubitably. Not only are most of us now forcibly confined in one (suddenly very small) building with our families, something none of us even had to endure before university, but we are being deprived of many of the luxuries and class-markers that make life worth living. I’m referring, obviously, to the ability to drop everything and weekend in Paris or the Swiss Alps, as we are all accustomed to.
However, all is not lost. Many of our forebears were house-bound due to their poor nervous states or the common cold’s vicious wrath, and they still made time to impress their status and elegance on others. Watching movies such as Dead Poets Society, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Jane Eyre, and Downton Abbey: The Motion Picture can only get you so far.
I could even recommend Emma (2020), which is now available for rent on Apple TV. I have seen it now three times in theatres, and each time I have refused to wear anything but white or pastel dresses for a full fortnight afterwards. Therefore, with this in mind as my ultimate goal — to try not to get sick, but still look pretty and ooze class — here are my ten tips on how to maintain your sense of elegant uppity in this international pandemic, which should, of course, be your highest priority right now:
- Wear only your linens (preferably white ones).
The more loose and genderless the better. Bonus points if lace is involved somewhere. You should look like a baby at its first christening.
2. Faint/swoon whenever you read another alarming update.
Do not allow yourself to be revived unless someone brings you a crystal goblet of brandy. Bonus points if you land on a velvet chaise.
3. Cough into a lace handkerchief.
Bonus points if you had the forethought to apply some red food coloring to it, and you quickly (but not quickly enough) hide it away and put on your best I’m-a-martyr face.
4. DO NOT go outdoors, instead stare judgingly from your bedroom window.
If you must go out, carry a parasol so the sun doesn’t damage your pale-as-death skin and cover your mouth with aforementioned handkerchief.
5. Take the opportunity to complain of your poor, abused nerves and tell everyone how the fresh air is too spicy for your constitution.
Emily Dickinson should be able to look down on you and say “There’s a person after my own heart.”
6. Polish your signet ring, so that the next time your fragile body is allowed into public society you can blind people with its shine.
7. Read novels.
When somebody asks what you are reading, scoff and say “Only a novel old chap. I don’t even know why I bother with these things.”
8. Drink only wine, champagne, and black coffee. Water is full of bacteria.
Tea is allowed if you take only sugar (in cube form, obviously, and use those little metal tongs), and drink only half the cup because you got too melancholy and stared out the window, and, when you regained sense, found that the tea was cold. No exceptions.
9. Read poetry aloud, even when no one asked you too, and especially if they’ve already asked you to stop multiple times.
Emily Dickinson should be first choice, but Keats will be equally as “enlightening” to your family.
10. Write letters to your friends and spray them with an intense amount of your signature perfume/cologne. If they are not coughing/gagging when opening the envelope you are doing it wrong.
Bonus points if you use a quill, but a fountain pen that produces impractically placed blots will also suffice. Extra bonus points if your scrawl is illegible and what words you can make out are smudged by tear drops.
I hope these tips (commandments even, some may say) help you feel a little bit more like your gorgeously melodramatic self in this trying time.