how to sit with ladylike poise, class, and elegance

Everybody knows I live an absolutely prim and proper life. For that reason I insist on spreading my copious knowledge to quality ladies everywhere! Here I demonstrate the “Duchess Slant” and the “Cambridge Cross”:

The Duchess Slant and the Cambridge Cross, attributed to Kate Middleton and Diana Spencer respectively, prevent your knickers from showing while seated, particularly in front of a camera [1]. We wouldn’t want the press to snap a photograph of the royal panties now would we?

Duchess Slant

English royals prove well practiced [2]:

Legs join at the knees and ankles (not crossing), and then tilt to one side. Heels touch the floor. Hands gently rest in the lap, ideally with one folded over the other [3]. Good posture—with back not touching the chair [4]—finalizes the position.

On my side of the Atlantic, I tend add a pronounced head tilt because I think it’s cute; compare to Ms. Middleton’s very slight tilt in the picture above.

Cambridge Cross

Again with the English royals [4]:

As the name implies, ankles gently cross when performing the Cambridge Cross, but otherwise one follows the Duchess Slant technique.

Why Bother?

Besides protecting modesty, these positions also slim and lengthen leg appearance [3].

I learned to sit properly from a modeling school’s video. Unfortunately I do not know which one so I cannot cite it. The video argued that given two equally qualified candidates for a photo shoot, the one that sits better will most likely get the job.

We can expand this idea to cover any job interview, and to cover career growth in general. Carrying oneself with class and poise, including how you sit, takes you places.

What About Crossing at the Knee?

The talking heads of etiquette have not sorted out amongst themselves whether crossing at the knee, while keeping angles together, proves appropriate for a lady of class [3]. But Ms. Spencer performs this position very elegantly:

Word to the wise: Prevent your petticoat from getting between your angles as demonstrated here:

The medical community continually debates the potential health hazards of sitting with legs crosses at the knee, but the jury is out [5].

How Not to Sit

Above I emphasized that one can only properly cross legs at the knee whilst keeping angles together, as demonstrated in the last two pictures. For contrast, this image [6] shows a less elegant form which ladies must avoid:




thriving vs. merely surviving

Often I lose sight of my longterm goal (to thrive) to make room in my psyche for my short term survival goals related to preventing self harm. Realized this morning that this behavior only “positively” feedbacks into the distress itself—that giving a measured quantity of attention toward thriving will better dampen the distress in the long run. (We call this dampening “negative” feedback in control engineering—the terms don’t sound intuitive: In engineering, “negative” feedback is the good kind of feedback when you want to keep something stable [1]! See the bottom of this post for pictorial examples of the two types of feedback).

So on that note, here are two ways I’m directing attention toward thriving:

Mindfulness proves a well-known strategy for improving mental health [2]. However, the only mindfulness activity that has ever worked for me so far is live performance, whether music or giving a speech. So to increase my mindfulness time, I plan to increase my stage time.

Moreover, I plan to add a mindfulness component to my instrumental practice time. (This has never worked in the past—I become too distracted, but I’m confident I can substantially improve the skill this time). So I’m going back to basics: Fingering exercises on my sitar and basic stick technique on my new drum set. I’m relatively new to both instruments so think that the activity of building mindfulness skill as part of building my instrumental skills will complement each other well.

Inventory of successes: I’ve always been one to count my blessings, but now I’m adding a weekly inventory of each week’s successes. Writing them down. Makes me feel great. Directs my emotions toward states that permit delivery of energy toward thriving!

An Example of Each Type of Feedback Loop

Just extra credit for ambitious readers…

This image comes from [3]. The top part shows how negative feedback keeps a basic ecological system stable. Similar negative feedback loops regulate serotonin production by the brain [4], a key process in stabilization of mental health.

The second part shows how positive feedback causes both system variables, success and motivation, to feed each other’s growth. A mental health example: Consider a system containing only the two variables “mania” and “lack of sleep”. In a person with bipolar disorder, one will feed expansion of the other. This effect is known as “snowballing” by systems scientists; as a snowball rolls down a hill it gets larger, and as it gets larger, its capacity for adding snow increases so it gets larger still.



I figured out this whole “ladylike” thing today

“A ‘lady’ is a woman who, through her mere presence, simultaneously commands power while setting others at ease.” – Emily Marie Williams

I achieved public womanhood on 14 July 2015 when I declared myself a woman before a judge and started living full-time as one. But as discussed several times on this blog, I work consistently to develop my personal concept of “lady” (a concept distinct from “woman”), and labor to assimilate this concept’s traits into my core being. (Check out the “See Also” section at the end of this post for links to my previous writings on the subject, which illustrate my progress through this exercise).

Today I experienced a breakthrough in this concept’s development, upon writing the following letter to my mom. I quoted the key innovation at the introduction to this post:

I have discovered that when I dress simultaneously classy, elegant, and ladylike; and move with casual grace while wearing heels, strangers take me more seriously. They step out of the way in stores. They open doors for me more frequently. They resolve conflicts with me more effectively.

Of course, it helps that I smile at and make eye contact with everyone I pass, and that I’m tall. And that I’m confident in my skin. Somehow I’ve discovered how to command power while simultaneously setting people at ease.

I think that last sentence is the essence of the “ladylike” concept I am striving to create for myself. I now have a vision that fits my feminist ethos and still matches my extremely gendered ideas about class.

Recently concluded that my days proceed more effectively, both in my mind and out in society, when I dress sharply.

Here is what I was wearing when I figured this out, what earned me the respect from strangers I received today that enabled me to put the pieces together:

See Also

constant self-reinvention: my profound habit for creating success

Video of speech I gave at a Toastmasters meeting about my primary method for obtaining success: