Thursday, February 11, 2010

Reader Request: From Farm Girl to Classy Lady

Today's reader request comes from Lindsey who grew up on a farm in Florida, is currently attending College and desires to become more lady-like and an overall classy woman. Thank you to Lindsey for her honest e-mail. Here is what she wrote:

Hi Karla,

Lately I have been trying to become a more classy lady. I'm a freshman in college, so I am at the point in my life where I need to decide what I want in life. I came across your blog and I love it. I find myself reading old posts during classes trying to soak up as much knowledge I can. Do you have any tips on how I can begin this journey of becoming a classy, sophisticated, and elegant young lady?

I have my career path lined out so I have that moving on a path. When it comes to being a lady I'm just very lost. I live on a farm in North Florida, and have always been the farm girl. I'm at the point in my life where it just doesn't really cut it anymore. I want to be the girl a guy can take home to meet mom. I also want to be the girl who is known for her manners and class. A modern-day Jackie or Audrey. Is this a complete crazy dream or could I make it happen?

Within the next three to four years I'm leaving my tiny home town and moving out on my own, degree in hand. I love my country life style. It has taught me some of my great life values of hard work and team work. I just feel it needs to be put on the side. I feel like I'm going to need classy girl skills over my ‘how to plow a field’. Please give any advice you can!

Thank you for your time,

Lindsey Lewis, FL

Here are my suggestions for you Lindsey:

Being a freshman, you are at a time in your life where a lot of change is taking place and becoming more of who you really want to be is a big part of that process. There are definitely many ways that you can move in the direction of being more classy, elegant and sophisticated so that you can become the classy and well-mannered lady you desire to be.

You don't have to completely abandon the farm/country girl values or lifestyle that has made you who you are. You can blend who you are with the new woman you want to become. Of course if you wanted to completely move into a new direction and leave that lifestyle behind, that is always possible too so it's not a crazy dream. It's very attainable! :)

There are three main areas that you will want to focus on while beginning your journey to becoming a more classy lady. These three areas will be broken down into more specific detail below.

1. Attitude/Behavior
2. Manners and Etiquette
3. Appearance

Many people, when they think of a classy woman, think about only one or two of these aspects such as how one dresses, and the truth is there are many elements that make up a classy lady. I'm really glad you are enjoying the information on this blog, two posts in particular that will be beneficial to you are:

1. How to Be Classy and Elegant with or without Money
2. How to Dress Classy on a Budget

These will help you in the area of wardrobe and graceful, lady-like behavior.

To elaborate on the three imporant areas above, I've included a breakdown on each:

1. Attitude/Behavior-Your attitude really determines who you will be as a person. You could come from the most desperate situation but by having a positive and winning attitude, you'll be sure to be unstoppable! It's not our circumstances that determine who we will become. We must take action and be determined to have a positive, upbeat attitude, even when it feels as though things may not be going our way. Remain non-judgemental as it pertains to certain situations or upon meeting new people. Above all, be a gracious and kind woman who other people will naturally be drawn too. People are attracted to other warm, inviting people who smile a lot, see the glass as 'half full' and enjoy the opportunities that each new day brings. These women not only make the best friends, but best employees, colleagues, mothers and wives also. Be a person that other people want to spend more time around.

When it comes to behavior, remember to act like a lady, but be yourself. Don't  try too hard to act like or be someone that you are not. Behave in a respectful way no matter what you are doing and be consistent. A classy woman isn't one who acts a certain way around her friends and family but the total opposite at work or on a date. You need to uphold what is important to you, your values and morals need to be as in line and true in one venue as they are in another.

Overall, being polite and respectful is key. Speak with a moderate tone, don't yell, raise your voice or curse. Always say 'please' and 'thank you' and remember that your body language can often speak for you. Crossed arms say a lot about how someone is feeling. Be conscious of your body language and how it lines up with your attitude and overall presence.

2. Manners and Etiquette- As mentioned above, basic manners are a must-holding a door for someone, saying please and thank you as well as helping others that are obviously in need of your help. Etiquette is something that if one hasn't learned in their home as they've grown up, might take a bit more time to learn and develop. Since we've never met and I'm not sure exactly where you are at, I would recommend reading some specific books on Etiquette such as those by the ever-popular Emily Post. Etiquette books are typically very in depth and will reveal a lot of information for you about all types of events, occasions as well as day-to-day etiquette such as how to turn down a date. You will also find more upcoming 'Manners and Etiquette' posts right here too!

3. Appearance-Unfortunately, we are all evaluated and often judged by our appearance. Sometimes, whether it be an interview or 'meeting his parents' you'll only get one impression that will be a lasting one with the other person in question. You always want to make an effort and put your best foot forward for such scenarios but also on a daily basis too. Even if you are running to the grocery store, you want to arrive in a presentable manner. This isn't just for everyone else, it makes you feel good about yourself too. Wherever you are remember to walk with your head held high, stand up straight and pull your shoulders back as to lenghthen your body and be more confident and alert vs. showing up slouched over without any visible confidence or attention paid to your appearance.

In terms of clothing, you'll want to be yourself. Dressing in a classy manner doesn't mean you need to wear little shift dresses 24/7 or that you always look perfect. Some keys to dressing classy are in the overall details. Make sure that hem lines are appropriate, it's never classy to 'let it all hang out' by way of a short skirt or a low cut top. Make sure makeup is natural and pretty, not overdone. Wear great accessories but use them sparingly, overaccessorizing can ruin an otherwise great outfit.

If you are not comfortable in such items as high heels or skirts, practice wearing these in your home so you can master the art of walking in pumps or crossing your legs in a lady-like fashion before going out into the real world. It's important to be comfortable, confident and not fidget. Classy women don't constantly fidget with their outfits, always adjusting a belt, or taking off a pair of heels because they are too tight. You want to make sure that whatever you wear is comfortable regardless of current fashion trends. On that note, it isn't important to embrace all of the latest trends. Being a classy woman involves coming into your own, developing your own style and owning it.

When I was fresh out of college and started working as an Account Manger with a Telecommunications company, I was still developing my style and perfecting it. Sometimes that may mean that you and your close friends will have very different styles. I was always the 'preppy one' of my group of friends. My outfits were usually more 'prefessional and polished' back then vs. hip and trendy. Many of my friends were working in casual setting so that worked for them. With a small clothing budget, I really tried to make blazers work with jeans on a weeknight and the like to stretch my work and casual wardrobes. These are things that you will also want to think about. Be sure to buy clothing that looks good on you. Make sure a particular style suits your body type and highlights your best features and minimizes your least favorite.

My rule is always quality over quantity. Buying several pairs of discounted shoes that are not as well constructed will never beat out one really great pair of quality, leather shoes that can be worn for many years to come, as the chosen style is one that would stay consistent. Think about clothing pieces as investments, for fun, trendy pieces you can afford to spend a lot less as they won't be worn for years to come. Some investment pieces are a few great pairs of jeans that flatter, a great pair of black pumps, a well-fitting coat, quality v-neck and crew neck t-shirts, button down dress shirts, especially a couple in white as well as a great fitting pair of black dress pants and own at least one great suit for interviews and important events if that is not your required day-to-day attire.

Be sure to get a great haircut that suits your face shape and is easy to manage. Coloring or highlighting is up to you, just make sure it looks really natural. Wearing makeup that won't break the bank is always a good idea and make sure the colors suit your skin tone also. Maintain your nails and overall appearance in a way that says, 'neat, clean, and well put together'. You never want to look frumpy or unkempt. Classy women make the effort, they care about themselves and their health too. A classy woman eats well, gets enough sleep and exercises to keep her energy levels up and maintain a healthy physique too.

Lindsey, you may want to start first with mastering manners and etiquette and incorporating new items into your wardrobe if necessary. It may mean thinking about the way you approach your day, what your attitude is like, or perhaps thinking back to previous events or social engagement and what you may like to improve upon. You don't want to beat yourself up, but just really think about some of these things and determine what you were happy with and where you wish to improve.

On your journey to becoming a more classy lady you will learn that it takes time, patience, effort, grace, and consistency. Nobody will do everything perfectly, so just do your best and know that each new day you are moving forward into the woman that you really want to be.

I hope this answers some of your questions, being a more classy woman is a big topic to cover, which is I wrote a book about it and why I dedicated a whole blog to it! It is my hope that your questions will help other women who have been raised in a similar environment that may want to break forth and transform themselves too.

Have a great week!

As always, if anyone has a reader request for me to answer, please e-mail me. You can find a little envelope in my side bar that you can click to send a message and I'd love to hear from you!


  1. Great post! I think even when you to a point of considering yourself classy or when other people say you are classy to keep working at it. For me, it is one of the best compliments when someone I hardly knows says that I'm classy. It's still a work in progress with decisions to make on a daily basis.

    I would love for you to post some examples of classy outfits. I'm always needed some new ideas for my wardrobe, especially things to where at home with children, running errands or church. (I don't work outside the home.)

  2. Thanks Nicol!

    Yes, it is a daily work in progress but a worthwhile one that positively affect others and makes you feel great about yourself too. :)

    With spring on the horizon I definitely have some classy outfits and fashion posts planned which will highlight home as well as work and dressy occasions such as church!

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed this post and have students who would definitely appreciate and could learn a lot from what you had to say. As always, it not a bad idea to refresh our own ways every once in awhile as well. Thank you for such well-written advice.

  4. Thank you so much for telling her to not abandon her country girl/farm-girl ways, but instead to incorporate more femininity in her mannerisms and wardrobe. As a 'country girl stuck in the city' I have found that so many have this mis-conception that farm/ranch women can not be classy. So untrue. Part of the charm of country and small town life is that it exudes manners, politeness and the willingness to always help others.

  5. Hi, Karla. I'm a college student and I've been following your blog since last year. Your blog has inspired me to become a classy girl. I have been dancing ballet since I was a little girl and it affects how I carried myself everyday, which is I really loved. However, some people think that I looked snobbish when in fact I am not. Your post has given me a very useful advice and I want to improve myself to become a true classy girl. Thanks for posting this.

  6. Hi Karla,
    I just found your blog!
    Enjoyed your response to this letter.
    I appreciate that you took the time for this young lady. I'm sure she and other young women will benefit by your advise.
    Thank you for sharing this. I have boys but I hope they will meet young women with these standards.


Thanks for stopping by, your comments make my day! I read every single one and will answer any questions you have. I hope you'll visit again soon! :)


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