Yes, it matters!
The term “classy” gets a bad rap. Class, in this sense, does not refer to your socioeconomic status in the world. We often think of “classy” as another word for “stuck up” “self-preserving” “rich” “well bred”, so on and so forth. You might even think of classy as fancy silverware or the full set of matching china your Grandma was so attached to. Maybe you think of royalty. But even those with power and wealth (including royalty – think Prince Harry) have, at times, acted without class!
|Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrill) in "Anchorman"|
I’ve been thinking about this for some time, now – living with more class. I think class comes with maturity – and we’d like to think maturity comes with age, but this is not necessarily true. Maturity comes through extensive self-work and maintenance. It comes with a thorough inventory of what is important to us and how to live out our values while maintaining an open mind and a positive attitude.
Disclaimer: This post isn’t meant to demean those who haven't reached 100% Audrey Hepburn or Oprah Winfrey levels of class. It’s meant to serve as a guide for those – including myself – who want to live a fulfilling, positive life while still maintaining their individuality and respect.
Classy Tip #1: Live Within Your Means
“Those who have abundant lives do not need an abundance of possessions.” Excess spending or hoarding may be a sign that you feel limited in some way. It is beneficial to explore that and understand why you feel driven to live in excess of your needs – is there an interest or hobby you can implement that would help you feel more creative or fulfilled? Do not act solely on impulse – be thoughtful and decisive, and know your limits. If celebrities have proven anything, it’s that money certainly doesn't buy happiness or class!
Classy Tip #2: Respect Everyone
|Always gorgeous, always classy Princess Kate|
Treat others how they would like to be treated. The Golden Rule says you should treat others how you would like to be treated, but wouldn’t it be more thoughtful to treat them how they would like to be treated? For example, your husband may not like to talk things out, but maybe you do. Assuming he wants to do so is presumptuous. Strike a balance between being more direct around direct people, and more compassionate around sensitive people. Stay true to yourself while maintaining the type of interaction that best suits their needs as well as your own.
Stay away from gossip, drama, and typecasting. When you think of class, the last thing that comes to mind is negativity or complaining. Whether it is victimizing your own situation, failing to see the good in others, or casually dropping criticisms, none of those actions have the power to make you a happier, more fulfilled person. Classy people stay out of others’ problems, and handle their own without involving the rest of the world in their private lives.
If you don’t agree with someone’s lifestyle, the best thing to do is keep that to yourself, unless their lifestyle is blatantly hurting themselves or others. Topics such as alcoholism, depression, or physical harm/behavioral issues should be addressed in a private and comfortable setting with that person directly.
Classy Tip #3: Be Thoughtful
Choose your friends wisely. It’s been said before, but surround yourself with kind and interesting people who are encouraging, supportive, and positive of your lifestyle. Toxic people will discourage you, or they may become jealous, negative, critical, judgmental, or condescending. If you get a bad vibe from someone, chances are your gut is telling you to keep a healthy distance.
“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them.” - The 14th Dalai Lama
Classy Tip #4: Practice Assertiveness
Set Boundaries. Touching on the previous topic, a person with grace and confidence says no without being abrupt or brash. Saying no in a polite way does not mean you have to explain yourself, although it’s natural to feel that inclination.
An example of gracefully saying no is if someone offers you a dessert, and you are rather full, simply say “No thank you, I’m very full - I would love to take some home with me, though.” This shows your gratitude to the chef (oftentimes the chef is a family member who might otherwise take offense) while maintaining your assertiveness.
Just two of the world's most influential and powerful women
Classy Tip #5: Be Responsible & Considerate
Be mindful of your surroundings. Those with class know that how they present themselves to the world is extremely important. At work, at home, or anywhere else, your surroundings are a reflection of what is important to you.
Pick up the phone. Responsibility comes with a price tag -it’s called time and dedication! A responsible person does what they say they will do, and follows through on their commitments. If they cannot make a previously scheduled appointment, they give as much notice as possible and call the person or place directly instead of e-mailing or texting. (It’s easy now that it’s 2013 to forget about picking up the phone. Can you believe it’s the only means of communication we used to have, other than mail?)
Don’t mistakenly assume that because you wrote something on a friend’s social networking page that your message has been received. Assume responsibility and pick up the phone – you’ll be surprised how quickly your assumptions disappear (and it’s always so much nicer to hear an old friend’s voice rather than see their avatar.)
Classy Tip #6: Look Your Best
Define your appearance with the look that best represents who you are. Whether we like it or not, our physical image presents an external message to the world. How you present yourself makes all the difference. Choose clothing that is flattering for your body type, and have fun with bold accessories or jewelry. Your clothing and your style are an avenue with which you can externally represent who you are. Use trends to your advantage; tie in classic pieces with fun and trendy accessories.
Wear makeup – or don’t! If you’re a guy reading this, makeup may still apply to you! It's completely normal for guys to wear a bit of concealer, tinted moisturizer, pluck their eyebrows, or take care of their skin (this is a totally untapped market that will be a huge boom in years to come.)
I used to think makeup was just something you have to wear for other people. That’s far from the truth – wear makeup because it makes you feel more confident. If you feel confident without it, that’s okay too!
|You don't have to look like Audrey to be classy.|
The whole point of achieving a life of class is that you look and feel your best and have pride in that. Class has a negative connotation - that those with class were somehow born that way, or raised with money. It really has nothing to do with how much money you make or what you do for a living. It’s all about your attitude.
I love to draw inspiration from others, like those mentioned throughout this post. Who are some of your favorite classy ladies and gents?