Projecting Elegance and Grace

When I think of polished women, a few people automatically come to mind: Julie Andrews, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelley, Toni Morrison and Ivanka Trump. What do these women have in common? They exude confidence, classic style and social etiquette regardless of the situation or environment.

Confidence

  • Stay straight and tall – Practice your posture by pulling the shoulders back and holding your head high. One of my yoga instructors regularly practices an exercise where we pretend to be attached by strings that pull us up like puppets. This exercise is quirky, yet very effective.
  • Smile often – Smiling is equated to happiness, a sign that people are approachable and comfortable in their own skin.
  • Stride with purpose – Circa 2007, my dad shared a piece of advice before a junior high dance that still sticks with me today. “Imagine yourself as a ballerina. Take long, slow and exaggerated steps. Roll your feet. Heel to toe. Heel to toe.”
  • Speak slowly with pauses – Allow your voice to draw out with a weighty rhythm. This provides time for your listeners to digest the message, and you’ll also sound more deliberate with your words.

Classic Style

  • Simple is best – Look clean with simple colors, simple hair, simple makeup and simple accessories. Keep statement pieces to one per outfit.
  • Be perfectly pressed – Always iron or steam your clothes the night before. A pressed collar can be a mark of distinction. The last word you want as a description is frumpy.
  • Invest in timeless clothes -Look back at old photographs and observe the pieces that look like they could be worn today. Keep these in your closet! Be minimalistic with trends, because they are the most likely to fall out of fashion the quickest. 
  • Groom and glow – Use a fine-tooth comb to create a straight, sleek part in your hair. Moisturize your skin, keep your fingernails clean, floss your teeth, be cleanly shaven, etc. The details matter.

Social Etiquette

  • Speak well – Practice the basics of proper language, use the words “please” and “thank you,” and avoid colloquialisms. (Hey! Yeah. What’s up? Nope.)
  • Be considerate with space – Always leave a place better than how it looked when you arrived.
  • Always arrive on time – Punctuality. This shows respect for the other person.
  • Freely give and receive kindness – Start by going out of your way once a day to make someone’s workload a little lighter… without any expectations of return or gratitude. 
  • Refrain from gossip – If someone is angry, refuse to join the rants or complaints.
  • Be informed – Read, watch or listen to the news. Aside from daily interactions, this is a smart way to stay connected with others while also broadening your perspectives and insights.
  • Observe others – Watch how polished people demonstrate etiquette and adopt their characteristics.