You don’t have to be well dressed or have a lot of money to look stylish. Class is what comes from within. It is your actions, reactions, facial expressions, ability to accept a compliment, decline an invitation, and generally how you carry yourself in life. I have met many women who are brash, rude and often just plain rude and not “ladylike”. On the other hand, I have had the pleasure of meeting many women who are polite, kind, helpful, respectful of others, have pleasant facial expressions, and certainly know how to take a compliment. These rare breeds of women simply make a decision to be stylish, with or without money. In my observations and in my own personal upbringing this is what I have learned…
1. SMILE! Smiling creates a more pleasant environment for those around you and also keeps your spirits high, no matter what life throws at you each day.
2. Learn to receive a compliment. Too many women shrug off someone else’s well-intentioned comments, whether it’s about their accomplishments, work, beauty, wardrobe, home, and the list goes on. They do it with the response and attitude of “no big deal.” You work hard every day and commit yourself just like Hollywood celebrities do, but they accept their Oscars and Emmys for all their dedication and accomplishments. Smile, politely say thank you, and feel good about yourself.
3. Nobody likes a fishwife. If you haven’t heard the expression, I’ll tell you. The fishwife is the woman who yells at her husband at dinner, she yells at her children and rants until everyone and everything is in order. This is so unattractive. Replace anger, yelling, and rage with softness and grace. She calmly asks her children, spouse, or friends to do something for you in a polite tone. I am not suggesting that you fake who you are, but simply move in a direction that exudes class and respect for those around you.
4. Answer the phone like you would if a hunk called you. Be polite and simply say “Good evening, this is Jane Smith speaking.” You have greeted the person on the other end and let them know who is speaking. I never like to hear “Hello?!” in an exasperated tone or that smacks of “you called at a bad time, what do you want?” If it really is a bad time, just don’t answer the phone. Let the machine pick you up and call back at a more convenient time. You’re likely to say something you wouldn’t otherwise say, and you’ll probably regret it later.
5. Profanity is a No-No. Classy women don’t wear and sound like a drunken sailor, it just doesn’t work. They use creative vocabulary or soften their thinking about something terrible. Example: someone cuts you off in a parking lot and almost causes a big accident. Don’t stick your head out the window and say “What *%$# were you thinking about?” And give them the finger, better keep it to yourself. No matter how angry you are or how scared you feel, don’t lose your temper and swear. Not only is this not ladylike (nor is it manly, just plain rude) and if she had her children in the car, they are likely to repeat it.
6. Don’t get drunk. Celebrating with friends and family over a couple of glasses of wine is no sin, if you can handle it. Getting drunk at a party and then dancing on the table singing is so rubbish. You won’t like what people say about you and what they remember afterwards. It just isn’t worth it! Classy women know their limits, they drink within them and when they reach their limit they drink sparkling water, lemon soda, etc. blend in with the crowd but don’t cause an accident on the way home.
7. Your wardrobe matters. You don’t need to have a lot of money, or nothing to be a classy woman. Just be proud of what you have, put on your best face and go out into the world. If your clothes have threads hanging out and a stain you couldn’t get out and a tear in the seam of your pants it’s obvious that you lack the pride that others take. Always wear clean, freshly ironed clothing free of threads, tears, stains, or discoloration. Instead, carefully put together an outfit that you know looks good, and put on a few basics: mascara, lipstick (or gloss), and a bit of blush.
8. Speak eloquently. There is no need to talk in jargon. Learn the English language correctly and do your best to use it and your best vocabulary on a daily basis. You were given a brain and you have had an education, let your words exude that too. Form your words completely. Accent or no accent, people want to understand what you say. Speak clearly and form your words completely.
9. Reject a request. There are times in life when we are simply too tired, not interested, or don’t have the financial means to participate in an upcoming event or someone’s request. Most women just say okay, I’ll do it, or I’ll be there because they don’t want to be perceived as rude. There’s nothing wrong with taking time for yourself, just make sure you phrase it the right way. Example: Her grandmother asks you to bring some items that she has saved for you because she knows she is moving to a retirement home soon and you just don’t have her room and you don’t like them anyway. Just say “Grandma, these are definitely some great treasures. I’d love to, but I just can’t.” This leaves no room for discussion about how big your apartment is or how tasteful it is. If he asks again, repeat the same words. “I would love to but I just can’t.”
10. Walk with pride. Whether you’re walking in or out of a room, making a quick purchase or pumping gas, keep your head up. I’m not kidding. Keep your head up, shoulders back, lengthen your spine and tuck in your belly. Walk gracefully towards your destination always with a purpose. Classy women always show up like they just landed from Paris and are only in town for 2 days to grace you with their presence. You have accomplished a lot to date. You need to appear strong, confident and proud. You will be surprised how much better you will feel about yourself and how many heads will turn.
11. Nail your nails. There is nothing worse than seeing someone with dirty fingernails. He says a lot about their personal health and hygiene and how much they care about themselves. Yellowed, chipped and torn nails at any length are not good. People see your face and hands no matter how much of the rest of you is covered. Keep your nails to a short and neat length. Seeing the white of your nails is important, so keep it! Invest in a pair of nail clippers and keep them trimmed regularly. Keep a file handy in your bag in case you break a nail. Prevent nails from yellowing by leaving nail polish on for periods of time, use baking soda and lemon juice and soak if you have this problem. Once filed and given a basic polish, use 2 coats of neutral polish like a natural pale pink. My favorite is Mademoiselle by Essie. Use a top coat to prevent chipping and you’re good to go. French manicure is more elegant if you can afford it professionally. Fortunately, after painting my nails for 20 years, I have mastered the art of doing my own perfect French manicure. If you have chipped dark nail polish, it’s best to remove it completely and use nothing or a layer of clear or neutral and then go out like this. The same goes for toenails and pedicures. Your toes will retain the polish for 3-4 times longer, so you can leave it on longer and do a few touch-ups when needed.
12. Be clean and hygienic. Too many women spend time watching TV, shopping, cleaning, and everything under the sun, but don’t take proper care of themselves. Classy women are not dirty. They don’t sleep with all their makeup on at night and brush and floss regularly, and take care of their health. First of all, daily showering is a must. Being clean is not for everyone else to smell you but it is for you to feel clean and fresh and ready to do your best. Second, you should wash your hair at least every other day. If you leave it on longer, your hair will start to get greasy and clumpy (usually on the back of your head, where YOU don’t see yourself). I see it all the time in the workplace, a well dressed woman and her makeup looks nice but her hair is dirty, it ruins everything. There are times when you can’t help it because you got up late, don’t worry, just wear your hair up to make it less conspicuous.