What does it mean to be an elegant person?
Some may say it’s in how you dress, how you speak, how you carry yourself and the way you live.
All of this is true.
But there are also a set of personality traits that elegant people share.
Let’s delve into this and look at the ties that bind classy people together.
1. Consideration of others (respectfulness)
One of the most important personality traits that show you’re an elegant person is being considerate.
As a considerate individual, you recognize the existence and needs of people around you.
While respecting yourself and having your own goals and priorities, you’re mindful of the space, time, and beliefs of others.
If you’re blocking someone from reaching for an item on the grocery store shelf you step aside…
If you see a mother with a crying child at the doctor’s waiting room you motion for them to go first…
If you see that a colleague is struggling with their workload, you help out and give them advice, even though your own schedule is no small burden…
Elegance is about the extra bit of consideration for the time, space and needs of others when it would be easier to just hold up your hand and push past them.
You’re no saint, but you live life with a certain attention to the situation of others that sets you apart in an elegant and classy way.
2. Taking care about where you’re going (spatial awareness)
The next trait of the elegant person is taking care about where you’re going.
I mean this literally.
An elegant individual walks with intention and doesn’t stumble or walk into other people.
In a large crowd, they don’t shove or push. They wait for an opening and take it.
The elegant person closes a door gently when they leave a building and steps downstairs like a supermodel.
I’m not saying you’ll never be clumsy or fall if you’re elegant, but you will walk and direct yourself with care.
This skill is increasingly going out of style.
It’s not just that people are always staring at their smartphones, it’s that patience is running out.
Particularly in the aftermath of the pandemic and many are used to ordering in food and getting what they want immediately, it’s noticeable how short attention spans and patience have become in public.
The elegant person rises above this, holding themselves to a higher standard.
3. Speaking with diction and grace (temperance)
The next of the personality traits that show you’re an elegant person is how you speak.
We all come from different backgrounds, classes, cultures, and beliefs.
But the elegant person does two things:
They pronounce their words so that others can understand them, and they do their best to be graceful.
This means keeping aggressive instincts to a minimum in terms of swearing or rude comments.
It means jokes tend to be classy and not hurtful or bitter.
It means taking the extra care to pronounce and speak at a normal pace even when a bit flustered or anxious.
Learning to speak in a self-controlled way and say what you mean isn’t something we all grow up with.
But it’s something we can all take the time to learn.
Elegant people have a trait of taking care about what they say and doing their best to speak respectfully and clearly.
4. Having confidence without being cocky (valuing oneself)
Confidence is another personality trait that elegant people tend to have.
This is to be differentiated wholly from cockiness, however.
The elegant person doesn’t brag or taunt their accomplishments.
They may wear high fashion, but it’s because they enjoy doing so and like its appearance and feel, not because they’re seeking accolades.
The elegant individual dresses, talks and behaves in a way that shows they believe in themselves and their actions.
But they don’t act pushy or ever try to prove they’re superior to anybody. In fact, they consider this to be the behavior of poseurs and try-hards.
Elegant people know they are valuable and high-value, but they never think that this allows them to mistreat or be rude to those around them or categorize people into “better” or “worse.”
They are confident, always, but never arrogant.
5. Being punctual as much as possible (self-discipline)
Punctuality is an important personality trait of elegant people.
This attention to the time and care about getting to events, meetings and dates on time is an Old World trait.
It may still predominate in some cultures like Germany, but punctuality is less and less of a dominant cultural value.
The thing about being punctual is not only that it’s respectful and classy.
It’s also that it shows you have the trait of self-discipline.
Instead of hitting the alarm clock for another 20 minute snooze, you get up, shave and throw on a blazer while the other guy just goes back to bed.
Sometimes that makes all the difference.
6. Appreciating beauty in life and art (refinement)
Appreciation of beauty in life and art is one of the most crucial personality traits that show you’re an elegant person.
Refinement and good taste is obviously somewhat subjective.
Your favorite painting may look like a dog’s breakfast to me, and vice versa.
But an appreciation of what you find to be beautiful and wonderful in life and art is a hallmark of elegance.
The elegant individual is always striving for beauty and beautiful things.
They can even find beauty where nobody else come, seeing a sunrise where everyone else just sees smokestacks.
Elegance is about appreciating beauty when it comes your way.
7. Kindness to those who are less fortunate (generosity)
Another of the crucial personality traits that show you’re an elegant person is generosity.
Of course, generosity is perhaps as much a habit and a daily practice as a personality trait.
But the point is that elegant people care about being generous because they want to help and care for others.
They do not do it for the recognition or the awards.
In fact, they often prefer to help people discreetly when nobody else is looking.
Among the upper classes and nobles, this practice of the elegant royal families and nobles helping the downtrodden was known as noblesse oblige.
Today, it’s known as Jeff Bezos recording a Merry Christmas message for employees.
8. Practicing tasteful honesty (authenticity)
Another of the key personality traits that show you’re an elegant person is being honest.
The elegant individual knows how to phrase things delicately.
But if they get a meal and they don’t like it, they will say that it is “not what I expected” and ask if they can have something else instead.
This may strike some as rude, but elegant people aren’t shy or cowards.
Being elegant sometimes means you speak your mind even when it’s unpopular.
When everybody is turning one direction in society or politics or culture, sometimes the elegant individual stands alone.
They have their own style, their own mores and their own lore.
They don’t bend to the times, they chart their own course in life.
9. Listening to others with true interest (attentiveness)
If you’re looking for personality traits that show you’re an elegant person, look no further than attentiveness.
This is basically being available to listen to others and cultivating the practice of hearing what someone is saying.
It sounds simple, but try not looking at your smartphone for 15 minutes during a conversation.
No matter how heavy or important the subject matter is, that screen is calling your name.
Can you resist?
The elegant person can. In fact, they make eye contact and give their full and undivided attention to the person they are speaking with.
They don’t smile and nod unless they mean it, and if they give advice they do so sparingly, and with forethought.
10. Cultivating an attention to detail (perceptiveness)
Last and very importantly in the personality traits that show you’re an elegant person is perceptiveness.
There’s a lot of profundity in the saying “stop and smell the roses.”
Life has so many responsibilities and pressures, but every now and then you just need to truly take a deep breath and appreciate what’s around you.
The way tendrils of smoke curl off that cigarette from the sad lady by the window of the cafe…
The glint of the rain puddle as it reflects a now showing sign from the cinema…
The curve of your partner’s lips as they smile at a joke…
The way you feel when you hear Mahler with a glass of wine after dinner…
Maybe it’s noticing the way an old couple dances at a retirement event and the way they are perfectly in step. Isn’t it beautiful?
Living an elegant life
Living an elegant life is all about being true to yourself while also respecting and cherishing others.
It’s about living life at a certain standard no matter how rich or poor you are, and noticing the small and beautiful people, places and experiences that make this journey worthwhile.
Elegance isn’t about money, it’s about authenticity and grace.