Being born a woman does not automatically make you a Lady. But what exactly does being a “lady” mean? When I think of a lady, I think of the words elegance, poise and grace. These beautiful words describe a lady’s demeanour, aura, and beauty that radiates from her internal qualities. In Chinese, we call this 气质 (qì zhí), which essentially means her “temperament”. And is often associated with the lady’s ‘class’ that underpins the way she lives her life and how she carries herself. Our temperaments are highly influenced by our upbringing and the qualities (good or bad) we developed over the years. Some people have trained their temperament to be calm, collected and poise making them come across as more classy, elegant and ladylike. Think Audrey Hepburn and Princess Diana. The good news is, we can refine these. So if we want to be more ladylike, then we need to invest time to cultivate the must-have qualities of a modern classy Lady. This is also the foundation of our Lady Transformation journey!
Wearing Chanel, carrying a Birkin and going to expensive places does not automatically make us classy and elegant or have 气质. Sure, having money helps but we still need to know how to carry ourselves and how to bring out our graceful selves. It takes a lot of self-discipline to cultivate the must-have modern ladylike qualities and embed them into our ways of living. The way we move, the way we speak, our mannerisms and our temperament all speak volumes about ourselves and translate into the “qualities” people see in us. So if we want to improve our image and level up, read on for my top five must-have qualities of a modern classy lady.
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1. She lives by a set of Values and Ideals
The first must-have quality of a modern classy Lady is that she lives by a set of values and ideals. She has a core set of values and beliefs that governs how she lives her life, her behaviour and her decision-making. She is defined by these guiding principles. It is her identity and is driven consciously or subconsciously. She ensures that all her actions or decisions are always in the alignment of these values and ideals, intrinsically and externally. And she does not let any external factors such as social media or other people sway her from her principles.
For me, my primary core values are family, integrity, advancement and stability. So all of my actions, behaviour and drive are anchored by these values. These are my identity and my character. Living by these values enables me to be myself and is aligned with my personal integrity. And I would not make any decisions that would violate any of these values. If you don’t already know your core values, there are many websites and books to help you discover them. This article about values and beliefs from Soul Salt is an excellent start. Once you have identified your set of values and ideals, live by them.
2. She practises loving kindness and compassions
The second quality is that she practises loving-kindness and compassion toward others and herself. In Buddhism, loving kindness means bringing happiness to others, and compassion means alleviating the suffering of others [Source: Fo Guang Shan Monastery]. To put it in layman’s terms, it is being loving, kind and compassionate in our daily life and conduct. A loving and kind person is someone who is always thoughtful and considerate of other people’s feelings. She consciously avoids being hurtful, makes people feel uncomfortable and tries to put herself in other people’s shoes. She is compassionate towards their problems or sufferings and tries to help where she can. These are all very gracious behaviours. A gracious lady is indeed a graceful lady. And this is just simply classy!
A modern classy lady also knows that practising loving-kindness is not just towards other people. It is equally important to be kind and compassionate towards herself. This is because she holds herself in high regard and understands the importance self-love to her wellbeing. After all, we need to take care of ourselves first before we can take care of others.
As a Buddhist, striving to be loving, kind and compassionate has been instilled in me from a young age. Over the years, and as I get older, I have learnt to also extend this to myself. I can’t stress how important it is to make time for yourself, especially in this modern world where we are juggling between many hats, a career woman, a mum, a wife, a daughter, a friend… and everything in between. Sometimes I literally just take 20min out to give myself a manicure or just simply light a candle, put my feet up and watch some brainless tv. It’s ok, take the time off for your well-being and mental health. You deserve it, ladies!!
3. She is gentle but firm
This brings me to the next quality of a modern classy lady. She is gentle but firm. Being loving, kind and compassionate will naturally make her gentle as she can empathise with other people’s situations and respect their viewpoints. However, it is not healthy to be blatantly “gentle”. We need to deploy some wisdom to the application of loving kindness in order to not get hurt ourselves or leave ourselves in a vulnerable position. It requires a lot of grace to be firm to hold her values yet gentle and kind. Particularly when under pressure and during times of adversity.
This quality also reminds me of a ballet dancer. They are just the most graceful people, period. Each move they do is very gracious, soft and delicate yet deliberate, strong and powerful. No matter how high her jumps are or how hard she twirls, her landing is always soft and gentle. On the stage, she glides across the floor elegantly but her movements are firm and are never compromised, no matter what.
4. She always act and dress appropriately
The fourth quality is her physical conduct and appearance. As we mentioned earlier, she takes a lot of pride in her personal well-being. This includes the way she acts and dressed. She always ensures that she behaves and dressed appropriately in every circumstance or situation. In this modern world, we are constantly exposed to different cultures and new events. A modern elegant lady takes the time to learn the etiquette practised by different cultures. This ensures that she is always well-prepared and comes across appropriately and with poise. For instance, when I travel to a new country, I made sure to learn our cultural differences and common etiquette they practised such as do we shake hands or air kiss when we greet the host. This just shows we are respectful of their values and beliefs.
She is also always well-groomed and dressed appropriately to suit the activities or events she is attending. For example, if she was going to the theatre, she may choose to wear a dressy dress, small heels and an evening handbag. Conversely, if she was going horse riding, then she should be dressed in horse riding-friendly or equestrian-esque outfits such as tight-fitting trousers, riding boots and a snug-fitting top. This will make her appear like an “insider”. This is super elegant and classy. And people always like those similar to them!
5. She invest in herself and personal refinement
Last, but not least, the must-have quality of a modern classy lady, is that she invests in herself for further refinement. Whilst she is confident and self-assured, she understands the need to continuously refine herself and level up. Otherwise, she will be left behind. So she invests in personal development and refinement. Whether that’s through formal education, coaching or self-development, she will also always make time to self-reflect and evaluate her thoughts, behaviours, and attitudes to understand the events that happened to her during the day in order to hone in on areas where she feels need refinement. She will therefore spend time improving that aspect so we can do better next time. This is because she is always striving to be a better version of herself.
These are my top five must-haves qualities of a modern classy lady to develop positive 气质. When we have made a habit of these qualities in the way we live, I believe doors will open to many opportunities.
Now, I’m not saying I am all of these things (yet) but it is definitely what I aspire to develop and live by.