Class. An intriguing word that to my ears, has always sounded slightly mysterious and exciting.
When I was a child I was obsessed with the concept of class and elegance. Ok, to be perfectly honest, I still am. I am one of those weirdos that LOVES etiquette books, style books, how-to anything books.
I found such a book from the 60’s in an old second hand shop entitled Elegance. I poured over its pages day after day, studying what made a classy and elegant woman and while some things may have changed since the 60’s, most of what they had to say still rings true. Class is timeless.
People who are classy care about something in life. Whether they are obsessed with carpentry, horses or boating, they have a style that is all of their own that speaks to who they are as a person on the inside. Sexy speaks only about the body and demands that people value them on account of their outward form.
A Playboy bunny is considered sexy, and Kate Middleton is without a doubt the epitome of class. While a Playboy bunny may illicit more salacious attention than quiet Kate, people of greater character and integrity will always appreciate class over sexiness.
We women have the unfortunate plight of getting less attractive as we age while men have the totally unfair advantage of getting better looking the older they get! Thankfully, class doesn’t fade with time or age. Look at Audrey Hepburn for example. She remained beautiful and elegant until the day she died, all because she was a classy woman.
What Does It Matter?
OK, fun little description Elizabeth, but what does it matter? Well, I’ll tell you: understanding the differences between class and sex appeal gives me the power to act a certain way. I can make conscious decisions about the way I act, dress, sit and walk so that I control how I come across.
*In writing this, I don’t want to come across as a hypocrite. I have been the most classless of women during some points of my life, and I will be the first to admit it. I can’t get better or grow unless I look to the future and the woman I want to be, rather than tripping over my past.
It’s not exactly expected of men and women these days to be classy, elegant, ladylike or gentlemanly. If you are, it sets you apart and makes you different, which can only be a good thing!
Class goes far beyond what and how you wear your clothes or the fine places you attend. It goes beyond your finances, schooling and outward marks of success. Class speaks of integrity, education (which is totally different than schooling) and character. Class cannot be bought and it is in my mind, one of the most important things I seek to cultivate in myself.
I know people with no college education, almost no income to spend on clothes and travel and they are classy down to their very core because they place importance on keeping themselves educated, carry themselves with dignity and always try to act with integrity. I know a former police chief who is without a doubt who I first think of when I think of a classy man. He is interested in something outside of himself (wine and running), continues his education even though he is now retired and seeks to make those around him comfortable by the way he speaks and acts.
It doesn’t matter how much money you have or what you do, class is within our reach if we search for it. I want to be classy, don’t you?
What Class Looks Like
Sexiness is instantly recognizable. It’s startling, it eye catching and well, it’s sexy. Someone who is sexy, be they man or woman, are generally hyper-aware of themselves and the way they are presenting themselves.
Adrian and I traveled to Nashville, TN last year for some business meetings that related to her music. We went to a dinner meeting where most of the people present had either written songs that you would instantly recognize, or had performed them. One musician who was there is known for his involvement in the Trans Siberian Orchestra. If you haven’t heard of them, look up their version of Carol of the Bells. Amazing. Anyway, this guy was probably one of the sexiest guys I’ve ever met. He practically oozed sexy. You know what else? He was totally aware of it. He was vigilant about being perceived that way at all times and it was a turn off! It didn’t matter how attractive he was, the fact that he had some major sex appeal couldn’t cover up the fact that he had no class.
Class can be perceived in many ways and from the length of this post, is obviously not easy to define! It manifests itself physically, socially and in that person’s character. Here are some of the main ways we can seek to cultivate class in ourselves.
Dress Men and women who are classy always attempt to dress nicely. Even if they can’t afford designer clothing, they attempt to put together something unique, clean and elegant. They also pay special attention to personal hygiene. Once you start looking for it, you’ll notice that classy people always pay attention to seemingly small details in their appearance. A good rule of thumb can be found in the old saying that my mums always reminded Adrian and me while growing up, “It is better to be overdressed than underdressed.” Someone with class will know however, that it is just as inappropriate to appear dressed for a club when attending a rodeo as it is to attend a wedding dressed for a rodeo.
Manners Class will most definitely show itself in manners! Proper table manners, conversational skills and knowing what is appropriate when all lend themselves to making the people around you comfortable, and that is truly classy.
Here are some ideas when it comes to manners.
- Eating with mouth closed.
- Having good posture.
- Knowing what utensils to use at the dinner table.
- Making guests feel comfortable and relaxed.
- Not talking too loudly or causing an unneeded scene in public.
- Not swearing in public. (This is my downfall!)
- Being interested in other people.
Carriage Classy people carry themselves with elegance and dignity. They stand up straight, they walk with purpose, they don’t slouch and they react to the people around them properly. This may sound like just another list of manners, but in reality, the way you carry yourself has to do with character, what you think about yourself and your ability to read the people around you.
Authenticity Being classy has to be a way of life, not a mask you put on and off for special occasions or else it will come across loud and clear and you’ll be branded as a phony. That also means being authentic to who you are and standing up for yourself and others when needed.
Passion Classy men and women are almost always passionate about something, be that Unicef, ranch roping or baking. Care about something outside of yourself, your looks and your Facebook! Find something you love and invest yourself in it. Seek to grow, to learn and help others who are also interested in the same thing.
Education There is a difference between schooling and an education. You can receive an education from school, but that depends entirely upon your attitude. An education is something you seek, day in and day out, for the rest of your life. It’s a way of thinking about life in general, and whether you approach life as an opportunity to learn something, rather than just making do. Classy people keep themselves educated by staying up to date with current events and reading lots of books, about lots of different subjects. The easiest way to start focusing on your education? Read.
Be Considerate Classy men and women are without a doubt some of the most considerate people I’ve ever met. They put themselves in other peoples’ shoes and act accordingly. They’re kind and live by the golden rule.
Thankfully, caring about class is half the battle. Knowledge is power and being able to understand what makes someone classy gives US the ability to implement it into our everyday lives. We will mess up, we will get frustrated and at times we will act like classless, unmannered bores. BUT. We are here for each other and through encouragement and never giving up, I know we can influence the world around us.
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xo xo Elizabeth