Dear Mary

Dear Mary: How do we tell our friend that her hairstyle doesn’t suit her?

5 June 2021

9:00 AM

5 June 2021

9:00 AM

Q. At a lunch party, I was getting on so well with someone I had not met before. She knew my work (I’m a designer) and loves it — so much so that she suggested I contact friends of hers who own a design company and are looking to fill a post. I told her that, coincidentally, I had just been for an interview at that very company but, despite shared aesthetic sensibilities, had not (inexplicably to my mind) been offered the job. At this point my interlocutor cried: ‘Oh, how ridiculous. You would have been perfect. I had forgotten what terrible snobs they are.’ Mary, I am still asking myself what it is about me that my new acquaintance so clearly saw could ‘trigger’ snobbery. I wanted to ask her but my confidence had also plummeted at that moment and so I just fell silent. How could I have found out without sounding chippy and causing discordance at the lunch party?

— V.M., Holt, Norfolk

A. ‘But I love snobs!’ you could have cried. ‘They are so quaint. I would have loved to work among snobs! Do tell me more.’


Q. Is there a tactful way to tell a rather insecure, although potentially beautiful person, that her waist-length hair, unchanged since student days 30 years ago, no longer suits her? All her best friends agree that a bouncy bob would take 20 years off her. We will have the opportunity to tell her this at a forthcoming reunion. But Mary, how would we do this to our much-loved and sensitive friend without making her feel that none of us like the look she has persisted with for so long?

— Name and address withheld

A. Enlist the help of someone under 30. Such a person would be able to photoshop an image of your friend’s face on to the similarly sized body of an attractively dressed woman with a bouncy bob. You can pass the image around the table marvelling about the extraordinary doppelgänger one of your children spotted from a car window and took a snap of on their iPhone. ‘Wow!’ (or similar) you can unanimously enthuse. ‘Clearly that hairstyle would really suit you too!’

Q. Your usually impeccable advice to readers’ questions fell somewhat short of the mark when suggesting (29 May) that a ‘self-closing lavatory seat’ is available at some wholesale website. The seats you mention are ‘soft-closing’ and still need the human start to achieve the desired closure. Electronic versions are available to achieve closure when the ‘user’ leaves the appliance, but they start at about £500 and the sensors are wall-mounted. Good fully programmable lavatory units start at £5,000. It is cheaper to educate the men at an early age.

— K.P., Highclere, Berkshire

A. Thank you for sharing this data. I stand corrected.

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