LuAnn de Lesseps of "The Real Housewives of New York City." Photo by Michael N. Todaro, FilmMagic

With a brand new book out, "Class with the Countess: How to Live with Elegance and Flair," who better than "The Real Housewives of New York City's" Countess herself, LuAnn de Lesseps, to give us rules for remaining regal in even the most stressful shopping situations.

She's polished, polite, and here, pretty frank about not checking your manners at the store door.

StyleList: Does it matter what you wear when you go shopping? Will it influence how you are treated? Should it?

The Countess: I think first impressions are everything. When I go shopping I like to dress for the occasion. I always keep in mind I'll be changing so I wear something easy to change in and out of. I find that salespeople are influenced by how you look even if they say they are not. Why not dress to impress?

StyleList: On that same note, what do you do if you feel you are not receiving the level of service you deserve (without pulling a "Pretty Woman")?

The Countess: If I need attention or help, I ask a salesperson if one hasn't already greeted me and asked me if I need assistance. If the salesperson can't give me the attention I need, I ask for the manager. In general, I only shop where sales staff is attentive to my needs and my schedule.

StyleList:
And, if you really feel you were mistreated by a store or salesperson is it appropriate to say something then and there? Should you write a letter to the company? Or just let it go?

The Countess:
If this happens at a store where I shop frequently, I would address the issue immediately in the most delicate way possible. In general, if I'm neglected or treated poorly at a store, I don't return. I take my business elsewhere.

StyleList: When you're somewhere that's having a major sale (or a sample sale) is it okay to grab as many items as you can carry, regardless of size, and weed through them later?

The Countess:
I don't like the word "grab." It's not ok. It would be more appropriate to sort through items of interest in your size to try on. Try to be neat!

StyleList: Let's say you and another customer find an item at the same item, what is the proper thing to do?

The Countess:
Try to keep it friendly, release it and move on.

StyeList: In your opinion, if a store won't hold something, is it tacky to hide it on the wrong rack, behind other stuff, in hopes that it will be there when you return?

The Countess: It's better to buy it and return it if it's something you think you must have. Hiding clothing makes more work for the sales staff and is gauche.

StyleList: When you know you're going to be trying on clothes out in the open or in a communal dressing room, should you wear specific undergarments (full-coverage underwear as opposed to a thong or ripped cotton underwear, a bra, etc.)?

The Countess: Never leave the house wearing undergarments that you wouldn't want others to see. Remember what mother always said, "Do you have on clean underwear?" Mothers are always right!

StyleList: If something was displayed on a sale rack, but when rung up, it's full price, what right do you have to argue for the sale price? Is it impolite? And if it's incorrectly marked with a sale price, do you have more power?

The Countess:
A store should honor the price tag if it is incorrect. If the tag is correct and the item was displayed improperly, the sales staff should move the items to the rack or display where the customer won't be confused.

StyleList: Should you ever try to bargain down a price in an upscale store?

The Countess:
There is nothing wrong with asking if the item might be on sale generally hinting you'd like a discount. Keep in mind upscale stores are not flea markets or tag sales. Clothes are usually priced carefully taking into account superior craftsmanship.

StyleList: Dressing room rules -- are there any? Is the customer responsible for hanging everything back up and bringing it out of the fitting room?

The Countess:
I find that stores will tell you what they want you to do with clothing that you've tried on. I always return the clothing to the correct hanger and hang back up on the dressing room pegs. Sales staff usually will return the items to the sales floor in a better store. In a discount store, returning the items to the front for re-shelving is the norm. The clothes are discounted because you are doing some of the work!

Countess LuAnn's new book. Photo courtesy of Gotham Books


StyleList: Is it okay to come out numerous times to show a friend different items when there is a line of people waiting for dressing rooms?

The Countess: Yes, friends are a great judge of what looks good on you. The friend should remain right outside the dressing room, though, making judging faster. Its impolite to keep people waiting too long.

StyleList: What is the proper etiquette when returning an item? Always go by what's written on the receipt or posted at the register? Should there be exceptions to every rule? If you've worn something and the quality is not up to par, is it okay to try to return it?

The Countess: Unworn items with the tags can be returned if that is the store policy. I always keep my receipts and abide by the store's return policies. In return, I expect the store to credit me the price I paid for the item if I'm returning it for a refund. Always read the receipt so that you know when and how an item can be returned. If you don't like store's policies, shop elsewhere.

StyleList: In your opinion, is the customer always right?

The Countess: In general, the customer is always right and better stores defer to the customer when they have an issue.

StyleList: How would you describe your personal style?

The Countess: My personal style is classic with a twist. I love to embellish my outfits with statement necklaces and large rings. My clothes are the canvas and accessories, my paint.

StyleList: Do you prefer to shop alone, with friends or other Real Housewives?

The Countess:
I love to shop alone or with close (honest) friends.

StyleList: Any other LuAnn tips to shop by?

The Countess:
When you have to ask your friend over and over if something looks good or you question yourself too much about buying an item my motto is "when in doubt, DUCK"

"The Real Housewives of New York City" Reunion Episode, Part 2 airs tomorrow (Thursday, May 14th) at 9/8c on Bravo.