Gone are the days of Jane Austen or Emily Post, when manners were paramount. The social climate as we know it is much more fast paced. No one cares what handwriting looks like anymore, not many are interested in taking the time for a phone call when texting is so easy, and certainly it is rare to find a soul who still writes letters on paper and puts them in the mail. Nowadays it’s all elbows on the table, no eye contact, and rush, rush, rush.
I have some ideas to remind us about Class. There’s no need to massively readjust the new world’s way of doing things, but we can certainly add in a touch of the old which is certain to warm anyone’s heart. It will help us all remember that slowing down makes life better…
1. Personalized Stationery
(and the THANK YOU note).
Neat penmanship seems to be a dying art, but it truly says so much about a personwhen you are able to put your thoughts into words and take the time to lay them out, legibly, on paper. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t appreciate receiving a personalized thank-you.
2. Send Flowers
If you have the means, it’s incredibly classy to send flowers as a gesture of congratulations, a thank you, or a ‘just because’ for someone who could use a boost of cheer amidst a difficult time. It’s so important to let others know you care, to let employees know that you appreciate their work, to let those who’ve done you a favor know it’s appreciated, etc… Two of my favorite nationwide flower companies are Olive and Cocoa & Farm Fresh Flowers, but I also strongly believe in supporting local businesses and I’m SURE there are plenty of adorable flower shops in your area. It’s worth it to build a relationship with a chic local florist… it’s also very classy.
3. Social Media Self-Control
Listen, Girl. Don’t do it.
You want to lash out, you feel embarrassed or hurt and you want to respond in kind. I get it, we all do. But Class always takes the high road. Let your self-control speak for itself. If you don’t, you are totally gonna regret it later and will probably make things worse.
Let’s also talk about restraint when you’re feeling a ‘lil bit sassy… Can you do your future self a favor and NOT post trashy photos of said self? You know the difference between a classy and a trashy photo. You don’t need me to tell you. Love you, mean it 😉
4. Have a (proper) Cup of Tea
Slow down for a minute and opt for sharing a cup of tea with a friend instead of a glass of wine– just occasionally…
I think cultivating the habit of sitting down for tea breeds patience and thoughtfulness in one’s life. Besides wearing vintage gloves, nothing quite makes me feel like a lady so much as picking up porcelain teacups and saucers from antique shops and using them to serve a delicious Creme Earl Grey to my guests.
5. Read the Newspaper
(for at least 10 minutes a week)
First of all, Newspapers are dying out because of the internet and they need your support. Second, this is another great way to slow down the pace of life. Where news on the internet pops up at random and can feel like rifling through garage sale junk looking for a gem to take home with you, the newspaper is focused but gives you a broad spectrum of what is happening in your community, your country and the world. It’s also a nice discipline to exercise… reading something in your hands. The smell of it, the feel of the smudged ink, the peace & quiet, the connection to the earth, it’s noninvasive presence… I’ll take a newspaper any day.
6. Cultivate Table Manners
Let’s keep this simple. Excuse yourself from the table to take a phone call (seriously?), fix your makeup, or adjust your wardrobe (please).
When you DO excuse yourself to take that call, as I know you will from now on, see below:
Also, when you are ready to eat, put your napkin in your lap, don’t chew with your mouth open (for god’s sake!) and I always love to see a young lady order a post dinner tea or machiatto… it says “the wine didn’t get to me, neither did the martini, and I’m still completely present and respectable”.
For an extensive look at Table Manners (and source of these three pics) please visit this HadleyCourt blog post
7. Culture Class
(Theatre, Art Exhibits, the Symphony, Ballet, Opera…)
Don’t be afraid to be bored. I have known too many people who never exposed themselves to some of the most beautiful experiences because they thought it would be “boring”. I had never been to the symphony for that very reason until last summer a friend of mine had a last minute ticket to Beethoven’s Ninth at the Hollywood Bowl. I agreed to go more because I like the company of my friends and I’m known to listen to the classical station now and then so, I thought, “maybe it’ll be relaxing”.
Let me tell you something about Beethoven’s Ninth (especially when the “opening act” is the stunning score to West Side Story)… it’s electrifying. There is a REASON the well-crafted, passion of a 30 piece orchestra has been inciting intense emotions from people for hundreds of years. I never imagined a symphony would have me leaning forward in my chair with baited breath and tears in my eyes, and yet, there I was.
You just never know when something is going to touch you. So get out of your box and experience new elements of culture. Walking away from a funny or poignant play or a bizarre performance-art show enriches your mind, soul and makes you a more interesting person. Get it? Being interested makes you interesting. And über classy…
(of course, if you’re doing it just to be interesting then you’re missing the point, so, you know… do it for you.)
8. “Service? That’s MY Department”
This goes back before the Junior League and it’s about a lot more than Class. It’s classy to be helpful… it’s also good for you. When I think of women I admire, they are people who are attentive to the needs of others, they pay attention to the person with whom they’re in a conversation, and they are quick to volunteer for the jobs no one else wants to do. These women have discovered a secret to life: When you serve, you grow.
9. Gossip Girls Need Not Apply
It can be hard to do, but the classiest women I know are just too classy to gossip. When they are caught in a situation where someone is including them in gossip, they always manage to say something kind or to cleverly present an alternative perspective that gives the benefit of the doubt to the target of gossip. You can always try steer people toward compassion for the person being gossiped about. Also, try to remember that if someone will gossip TO you… they will gossip ABOUT you. Usually without a second thought.
This part is all you, baby. The Classy woman is relatable and vulnerable, never faking her way through a hard time, but always managing to be gracious and kind in spite of her own personal distractions. You don’t have to be rich to be classy, but you do have to believe you are of great value as a person. True confidence breeds humility. Stand up straight, look yourself in the mirror, smile, and share your light!