10 ways to be elegant and classy without spending a dime

Hundreds of articles and guides on the internet tell us how to be elegant and classy.  

Most of them put fashion and style at the forefront. They tell us it’s easy to look elegant when you’ve got beautiful clothes that fit you perfectly. 

They may be right, but here’s the thing—elegance isn’t just about your clothes or how expensive you look. 

Elegance is essentially a quality of refinement, and it’s something you can develop without spending a dime. 

So, how do you do that? In this article, I’ll talk about the ways to be classy, never mind if you don’t have the budget for sophisticated clothes.  

1) Master the perfect handshake

Let’s start with the handshake, that first gesture of greeting that creates people’s first impression of you. 

Did you know that it only takes seven seconds for a person to form a first impression when they meet you? 

And while many things influence first impressions, how you shake hands is one of the most impactful.  

As one of your first physical interactions with another person, your handshake says a lot about you.  

The perfect handshake is one with a firm grip—neither too strong nor too weak. 

A strong handshake can turn people off since it can be interpreted as a gesture of domination. Meanwhile, a weak or limp handshake signals that you’re feeling anxious or uninvolved. 

You want to aim for a grip that conveys just the right level of interest and confidence. 

This also means your hands are one of the first things people notice when they meet you. That’s why it’s essential to keep your nails well-maintained.

Elegance involves looking put together, and ragged and dirty nails won’t give you that.

On the contrary, unkempt nails are considered indicators of poor hygiene and neglect, making some people uncomfortable.  

You’ll give them the impression that you’re lazy, unprofessional, and lack attention to detail.  

You don’t have to go to a nail spa and shell out a hefty fee for a manicure. Just trim them regularly and moisturize your cuticles. 

Avoid biting on your nails—not only does that damage your nails, but it may also lead to infection. 

When you’ve mastered the perfect handshake, people will have a positive first impression of you and see you as an elegant, composed person. 

2) Maintain good overall hygiene 

Elegant people prioritize their health and well-being. They practice self-care because they must be at their best to help others.

Thus, a good grooming routine can make a big difference in how elegant you look. 

Maintaining good hygiene, keeping your hair styled, and wearing minimal makeup can all contribute to a polished appearance.

Regular showering and toothbrushing can make you look and smell fresh, so you convey a sense of elegance, even if you aren’t wearing expensive clothes.

That doesn’t mean you need to splurge on fancy treatments and beauty products. Just find a personal care routine that works for you and stick to it. 

3) Keep your voice low and speak unhurriedly

Your voice can be one of the most significant indicators of elegance. That is if you know how to modulate it and use it to your advantage. 

The way you talk contributes to the perception of elegance. Practice speaking in a low and measured tone. Your tone should be pleasant, refined, and appropriate for the situation. 

Make sure you enunciate your words clearly and with a good rhythm. You want people to be able to understand what you say easily. 

This can show you’re articulate and well-educated, qualities that are often associated with elegance. 

4) Develop a wider vocabulary but use it wisely

As I mentioned above, how you express yourself affects how people perceive you. And the more words you know and use, the more well-educated you seem. 

Elegant and classy people know the right words to say in any situation. They are consistently articulate and have a vast vocabulary to help them express themselves clearly and eloquently. 

Now, don’t go overboard and always fill your conversations with big words. That can make you look pretentious, and that’s not what you want to be. 

Elegance is marked by authenticity, subtlety, and sensitivity. That means you must watch how you say things and also why you say them. 

Are you spouting off fancy words to appear intelligent? Or to impress other people? 

That’s likely to backfire. 

The trick is to sound intelligent and still come across as sensitive and endearing. 

And, of course, it’s important to think before you speak. This can take some getting used to if you tend to react instantly to things or often blurt out whatever comes to mind.  

Remember that, ultimately, what you are saying—your overall message—is more important than the words you choose.

The good thing about speaking eloquently is that it’s absolutely learnable. You can train yourself and practice over and over until you can converse with elegance. 

5) Know how to listen to others

Classy people know the value of effective communication. Aside from being confident speakers, they also know it’s important to listen

Have you ever experienced a time when you were talking to someone, and they weren’t really listening? If you’re like me, you find this rude, too. 

Practice active listening. This shows you’re engaged, interested, and respectful of others. It helps you understand the person better and pick up cues from their tone and words. 

This allows you to respond more appropriately, sophisticatedly, and elegantly. Trust me, the person you’re speaking to will come away from an encounter with you feeling impressed.    

6) Carry yourself with poise

Ever wonder why ballerinas look so elegant? It’s not just the pointy shoes and silk tutus. It’s also because of their impeccable posture and graceful movements. 

Good posture and body language can make a person appear more elegant and confident. 

Standing up straight, keeping your head up, and making eye contact contribute to a more polished appearance. No wonder our parents always told us to stand up straight!

Even while sitting, you can have a sophisticated posture by sitting up straight and crossing your legs at the ankles, not at your knees. 

Poise is also about the degree of mental and emotional control you possess. 

Do you panic at the slightest sign of a problem? Or get mad when someone cuts in front of you at the grocery store? 

If you want to be more elegant, it’s time to say goodbye to these knee-jerk reactions. 

It takes practice, patience, and much self-awareness to develop poise. You need to monitor your reactions to situations and exercise self-restraint to stay calm and composed.  

7) Mind your manners

People these days think of manners as an outdated concept. But the truth is, social etiquette will never go out of style. 

Do you know why? Because the purpose of etiquette is to create a positive and pleasant environment for yourself and others. 

Good manners indicate that you’re a considerate and thoughtful person who prioritizes harmonious relationships. 

Harmony is often associated with elegance, not just in fashion and other forms of visual expression but also in behavior and relationships. 

8) Develop your skills and pursue your passions

This might come as a surprise to you—what do your goals and skills have to do with elegance? 

Well, classy people live their lives with intention and a love for learning. They know that having diverse interests add to their repertoire of knowledge for intelligent and refined conversation. 

So, cultivate your interests, read widely, learn new things, and talk to interesting people. This can show your elegant attitude of curiosity and culture.

9) Be confident and maintain a healthy sense of self

Elegant people know who they are, and that’s why they can go through life with their heads held up high. 

They strive to maintain a positive outlook no matter what life throws at them. 

This is an easy way to be elegant and classy—and it doesn’t cost a thing!

You simply need to take time for regular self-reflection so you can assess your strengths and weaknesses. 

From there, everything will follow. You’ll see the importance of self-care and discover the aspects of your life that need improvement. 

You’ll identify your core values and live life authentically according to those values. Most importantly, you’ll learn to accept yourself and embrace your uniqueness

All these lead to a healthy degree of confidence in yourself, which ultimately helps convey class and elegance. 

10) Treat others with respect

Lastly, here’s the remarkable effect of self-love—it fills and nourishes you so you can be kind to others. 

Being kind, generous, and respectful can show you are well-educated and refined.

When I think of women like Princess Diana and Audrey Hepburn, I immediately think of their fabulous outfits and distinctive styles. 

But more than that, I remember how kind they always were. They became well-loved, iconic figures not just because of their sharp fashion sense but also because they exuded dignity and compassion toward others

If there’s anything I’ve learned from their lives, it’s that kindness is always classy. And what’s more, it doesn’t cost me anything. 

Final thoughts

As you can see, elegance is a mindset. It’s not just about the clothes you wear or the things you own; it’s also about how you carry yourself and interact with others. 

You might not have the most fabulous wardrobe, but rest assured—if you’re gracious, respectful, thoughtful, and confident, you’ll come across as an elegant and classy person.  

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