If you want to be classy, forget about buying a Gucci bag or driving around a flashy sports car.
What’s more important is the way you carry yourself and what you’re telling people through your body language.
Here are 10 body language hacks that make you instantly seem genuinely classy.
1) Smile with confidence
We generally like to think of people who don’t smile as being grumpy and unpleasant. And well, you don’t want to be seen as such so you try to smile.
But there’s a problem with this.
If you simply aren’t confident enough to flash a smile—maybe because you’re afraid you’ll come off as creepy for smiling so much—then people can feel that something is off, and that you’re simply faking it.
This is counter-productive. You want people to feel comfortable around you, not wary.
So when you smile, make sure that you’re smiling with confidence. You can start by practicing in front of a mirror. But do the basics: Smile with your eyes, be firm with your gaze, and make it gradual.
If you don’t know if you’re doing it right, study how confident people (like politicians and celebrities) do it.
2) Move gracefully
Now I don’t mean to say you should move around like you’re a ballerina of some kind. The bar is far lower, and far more realistic—simply don’t act like you’re some kind of bull in a china shop.
Relax, slow down, and try to practice restraint whenever you can.
So rather than stuffing your plate full with food and guzzling it all down, take your time eating. Instead of blabbing people’s ears off, slow down and give them the time to catch up.
And be always aware of where your body is and how strong you are so that you don’t end up slamming into people and smashing glasses into tables.
These are obvious examples, and there’s certainly more out there. Just keep in mind that, in general, avoiding rushing through things will give you class and grace.
So unless you’re really in a rush, take your time.
3) Be mindful of your posture
That is to say, stand straight and avoid slouching.
Start with paying extra attention to the times you usually slouch. Do you do it usually when you’re tense at work? Do you do it when you’re rushing something? Do you do it when you’re feeling lazy?
Well then, monitor yourself during those times. Try to put a reminder that you can glance at every so often, or even have a friend or family member call you out when you start falling into bad posture.
Eventually, you’ll get to the point where you simply don’t need to try standing straight anymore—it’s simply become a habit.
4) Lean forward
Leaning forwards towards someone you’re talking to will tell them that you’re attentive, listening, and are not in any way afraid or insecure.
Though keep in mind this is not something you should just apply blindly. Leaning forward a bit too much or when you’re already close together can actually make you seem like a predator.
And this is because leaning forward can also tell people that you’re not shy to take up space, or that you’re even imposing on them.
You don’t want that.
So lean forward towards people, but subtly and not too much. Keep in mind people’s personal space too and you’ll be golden.
5) Keep your arms open
This is another of those little things that give you a very open body language and informs the people around you that you’re confident and self-assured.
Opening your arms shows that you’re confident in who you are and it’s a subtle invitation to the people around you to approach you.
It’s like saying “This is who I am. These are my thoughts, these are my works. I love them and I’ll show you why you’ll love them too.”
So avoid crossing your arms, or holding your shoulders forward as if you’re trying to make yourself look small.
6) Cover your mouth
I’m not saying you should act like you’re some noblewoman from the late 19th century (unless that’s your thing, in which case go ahead).
What I mean is that when you’re coughing, yawning, burping, or talking to someone on the phone when you’re not supposed to be, you should try to put some effort into covering your mouth.
This isn’t just something that you should do just because it looks classy. It’s basic etiquette.
Here’s the thing: even if you do all the other tips in this list, if you fail to do this extremely basic thing, you’ll come off as boorish.
7) Make eye contact
There’s a lot you can say—without uttering a word—simply by maintaining eye contact with someone.
A stare can be seductive or intimidating. It can tell people “I’m not afraid of you,” it can also tell people “I need your help.”
And something that I’ve noticed in all my classy friends is that they know how to make and maintain eye contact.
They generally are not afraid to look someone straight in the eye—even if it’s some VIP like the company’s CEO. And when someone stares at them, they’re not afraid to stare back and even smile.
Do this to show you actually value yourself and that you’re not intimidated by anyone. That’s the way to get classy.
8) Make your handshakes a bit firmer
First impressions matter, and people can tell a surprising lot about you simply from the way you do handshakes.
So don’t just do a quick handshake and flash an awkward smile. This will make people think that you have self-esteem issues.
Instead you should try to give a firm, polite handshake that tells people “I am confident.”
Sure, each one of us has insecurities and it’s inhuman to expect people to be perfectly confident all the time.
But if you really want them to have an impression that you’re classy, then do your handshakes right—make it firm, and pair it with good eye contact and a genuine and warm smile.
9) Avoid making tacky, attention-grabbing gestures
If you want to be classy, then don’t just act a certain way, you have to eliminate the things that can make you un-classy.
What are those? Well, let’s start with the basics.
Avoid scratching anything in public. In fact, avoid body-checking. Don’t touch your pits to check if they smell, don’t adjust your underwear, don’t pick your nose or teeth!
If you must do these, do them away from the public eye, like in the privacy of a bathroom.
And then when it comes to social interactions, avoid biting your lips when you’re nervous. And avoid making big movements—like twirling or jumping or waving at someone like you’re a giant car wiper.
All these things scream “Look at me, look at me!” and that’s not the kind of image you want to show people.
10) Pay attention to where your hands go
Notice what you’re doing with your hands when you’re stressed, when you’re explaining something, when you’re nervous, and when you’re bored.
Do you tend to put your hands in your pockets when you’re talking to someone you find intimidating? Stop doing that. Instead, just let your hands be free and even use it to express yourself more animatedly.
When you’re anxious, do you tend to tap your fingers, scratch your head, or bite your thumb? Then stop.
These habits are difficult to break because most of the time, we’re not even conscious we’re doing them.
But you eventually have to if you want to be a little classier.
Next time when you’re with someone classy, pay attention to what they do with their hands. You will easily see that they’re mindful of their hand gestures, and you should try doing the same.
If you aren’t yet the classy person you aspire to be, then you can start by pretending to be one for a while.
People like to say that you should fake it ‘til you make it, and well…these hacks will certainly help you fake it.
Don’t be too guilty for faking it for now—most “classy” people are honestly just normal people behind closed doors.
But yes, you can’t fake it forever, so it would also help a lot if you were to try to actually be classy.
The thing is, it’s not as hard as you think. It’s all about practicing good etiquette, building confidence, and being assertive. Everything will start falling into place once you get the basics down.