Ask Amelia

The DLR often finds itself at a loss in Dalston’s miasma of complex social situations. Gone are the days of clear rules of etiquette, stratified codes of conduct and chauvinistic social norms.

To help out with this social trauma, the DLR has co-opted the most proper English person it knows, a woman who could charm the moustache off a Dalstonite, for its intragenerational agony aunt. She will be available for all of your socially awkward queries, from fashion faux pas to dining etiquette.

Take it away, Aunt Amelia.

A nose for manners

Dear Amelia,

I sat next to a woman in a work meeting and loved the perfume she was wearing. Would it be strange to ask her what it is? I don’t know her and I’m afraid she’d think I was slightly sexually stalking her. Or does it fall in the camp of female solidarity that exists in restaurant bathrooms?

Yours confusedly,

Anna Scent

Dear Anna,

Your question cuts right to the heart of the dilemmas of modern, urban life. Where once it would have been a compliment for a woman to ask a lady about her perfume, now that women are allowed out of the house it might be too forward.

I wear quite an unusual perfume and people comment on it quite a lot (no rudeness from you here, please, DLR). When women ask what it is I take it as a compliment and am happy to tell them.

Do note, though, that there has generally been some conversation before this and/or it is in a private setting. In the Ladies’s is fine. In front of everyone in a work meeting would be peculiar and place your conversationalist in an awkward position, but perfectly acceptable in a quiet chat afterwards. Never, though, to strangers on public transport.

When men ask what perfume I am wearing it is inevitably tinged with sexual overtones. It is hard for men to ask without it sounding like a bad 1980s perfume ad – mm, you smell good, what are you wearing? I would therefore counsel men to proceed with caution in this area.

For DLR readers too polite to ask, I wear Escentric Molecules 01, available at Start in Shoreditch.

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