My Older Coworker Copies Everything I Do and Wear

Dear E. Jean: I’m 26, and I love my job (I’m a marketing director) and the people I work for and with. However, there’s a 70-year-old lady here, and since I started work, she copies everything I do and wear. If I join a gym, she joins a gym. If I buy boots, she buys similar boots. If I buy certain makeup, she buys the exact same makeup, and on and on. Now she wants to know my hairdresser’s name and number! I hate to hurt her feelings, but I’ve just about reached the point of screaming. I realize that imitation is the greatest form of flattery, but I could stand to be flattered a whole lot less. —Uniquely Yours in Atlanta

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Sleek, Sleek Unique: Love your fan base, Miss Unique.

Do you think Rihanna reaches “the point of screaming” when someone copies (just to choose an instance totally at random) her workout gear? Bah! She wants to clothe the naked pulchritude of the entire world with her own personally designed Puma Creeper shoe.

Anyway, you should be so lucky to live to 70. It’s the best possible age you can be. (Plus, she’s still working! No one’s forced her to retire! Excellent!) Your error is in thinking that the lady is old. No. No. No. The lady is young. So tear out this column and put it in your bag. Then leaf through the magazine and choose four or five looks for your friend—looks entirely different from your own. Mark them with Post-its and make her a present of this ELLE (hell, get her a year’s subscription!) with a note saying, “I think you’ll look smashing in these outfits!!”

This letter is from the Ask E. Jean Archive, 1993-2017. Send questions to E. Jean at

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