Classy vs. trashy: A message for young women

classy vs. trashy

There are a lot of labels I’m comfortable with, but there’s something about the word “sexy” that sets off alarm bells in my head. I just don’t see myself that way. In fact, I’m going to counter popular culture by saying I don’t want to be sexy. Sophisticated? Yes. Classy? Definitely. Alluring and mysterious? Sure. So, let’s talk for a minute about what’s classy vs. trashy and why this conversation matters. [Side note: If you think this sounds conceited, I am not saying people are coming out of the wood-work calling me sexy. Merely, that I’m not a big fan of the term in general.]

You’re probably wondering where this is coming from and where I’m going with it, so hear me out. I recently overheard two teen girls gushing over a—skimpy doesn’t quite do it justice—garment. It made me sad to think they felt they had to be that revealing to attract the opposite sex. I’m not suggesting we go back to Little House on the Prairie days, or that you need to cover everything. Women should be able to dress as they like. However, as a fashion/lifestyle blogger focused on elegance, I do feel a sense of responsibility.

I want to prove that modest, tasteful styles can be just as intriguing as those that put it all out on display. In fact, I feel most beautiful in high necklines, like with this party dress, or a turtleneck.

classy styleclassy detailsTiered Crochet Dress | Heels

Classy vs. trashy: Attracting the RIGHT kind of attention

Before we go any further with our classy vs. trashy discussion, I should probably explain my aversion to the word sexy. It stems from my experience in the broadcasting world and particularly my interactions with strangers on social media (this post details it). Let’s just say when men (you’ve never met before) use the word “sexy” while communicating—be it online or in person—it usually precedes things I don’t want to hear about. These are things a stranger has no business saying to a married woman. However well-intentioned it may be, unless it is coming from my husband or a close gal pal, I don’t see “sexy” as a compliment. Why? It’s a loaded term, where even an awkward “thank you” in response could be misconstrued as an invitation.

Pretty, cute, unique, interesting, beautiful, elegant? Those are real compliments, kind words offered without strings attached. These type of comments indicate genuine respect. Furthermore, they recognize you as a person not an object. I’d rather attract that kind of attention, wouldn’t you?

Classy vs. trashy: Where fashion fits in

In a perfect world, clothing wouldn’t matter. We could wear what we like and let the chips fall where they may. But you and I both know that’s not reality. So, how can we use fashion to project a tasteful image? How can we evoke femininity in a powerful, modern way? How do we ensure we’re classy vs. trashy?

There are no hard rules or definitive answers, because by its very nature, style is personal. What’s right for one person, may not be for another. That said, there are a few general principles for tasteful dress I swear by. In fact, this crochet dress from Chicwish is a good example of several of them. Is it edgy? Yup. Flirty? Sure, but in a demure and covered way. In fact, the photogapher I work with (Velvet Lotus Photography) uses it for senior portraits. As he put it, it makes a “mother-approved” style statement.

Classy vs. Trashy: My Style Rules

  • Tailored, not tight: Although they might work at the gym, skin tight garments aren’t flattering on anyone. A body skimming fit is not only more comfortable, it also projects a more elegant, professional vibe.
  • Pick one area of focus: If you want to be alluring, show off one thing at a time! For example, if your dress has an open back, the front should be more conservative. Going for an off-the-shoulder look? Opt for a classic fit and longer hemline. Showing off your gams? Test out a long sleeve style.
  • Balance short hemlines with higher necklines: As a petite girl, I am not shy about short skirts or dresses. It’s the only thing that can make my “smurf” legs look long! However, when my hem comes up, the neckline does too. This prevents you from drifting into trashy territory. Tights and leggings with boots can also help shorter styles look modest and appropriate. For instance, I love turtleneck minis or sweater dresses.
  • Sheer brilliance: Magicians will tell you, it’s all about the illusion factor. There’s nothing more romantic than a touch of lace on a hem or a bit of sheer fabric on a sleeve. Mystery is intriguing!
  • Posture perfection: If you carry yourself with confidence and poise, you could wear a paper bag and draw attention. Stand up straight, hold your head high and be confident in your own skin. You might not see it every time you look in the mirror, but you are uniquely beautiful. Once you believe that, others will see it! (Need help? I share my favorite tips for improving posture in this post.)
  • No cleavage: Cleavage might feel acceptable for a night out, but you don’t need it to be seductive. Why show “the girls” when the clavicle will do? Call me old fashioned, but my rule of thumb is to think about what my mom would say.

Need examples? Here are a few subtly sassy pieces.

In conclusion, I’m certainly not perfect and I don’t get this “balancing act” right every time. However, let’s just say when I do venture into edgy territory with my fashion, I try to do it in a controlled and elegant way. My style aspirations have always leaned more Grace Kelly/Audrey Hepburn than Kim Kardashian. Whose style inspires you?








  1. Kelly | 2nd Feb 19

    Thanks for sharing this! I can completely relate. I cringe when I hear the word sexy in the work place! Love your style tips!

    • laveremis | 5th Feb 19

      I so appreciate you stopping by and reading this Kelly! I just want young women to know they don’t have to feel forced into “sexy” attire. There are plenty of other terms to use when paying a compliment.

  2. Dixie | 12th Mar 19

    Hi! Im 16 years old and im a christian but I am having trouble with what is classy/edgy very trashy. One day I decided to wear fishnets under really ripped jeans, with a crop-sweater and addidus shoes. I like the style now in days, but to a extent. Im not the type of person to wear this stuff to show off too much. I wanted to show off my legs and a little bit of my stomach in a edgy look. I don’t want people judgeing me on my clothing and mistaking me to be a hoe. What do I do?

    • laveremis | 15th Mar 19

      Hi Dixie, I wish there were hard and fast answers for every occasion and outfit, but there is a lot of gray area here. I know how you feel and remember having the same questions. My best advice would be to stick with one “edgy/in-style” item at a time and keep the rest of your look more conservative. For instance, maybe you do the fishnets with ripped jeans, but balance it out with a turtleneck on top… Or do a crop-sweater with a pair of on-trend high waisted pants, so you are showing some of your stomach but not a huge amount. When you are getting dressed, be honest with yourself about the items that you are second guessing. If there is more than one at a time, you might be pushing the envelope too far. I’m a firm believer that our conscience sends us messages. That said, you are a young girl. Now is the time to have fun with fashion!

  3. Lex | 3rd Jul 19

    How old are you like 40? I’m 26 and to me, you sound like a total prude. “Teaching” young girls how to be classy? Get with the times. Its 2019! You sound like the kind of person who would blame a girl for getting raped because she was asking for it.

    • laveremis | 3rd Jul 19

      Hi Lex, thanks for your input I truly hope you read the entire post – not just the headline and first paragraph before commenting. I take some time to flesh out my point and there is a chance you may have missed the nuances of my argument. I agree – and state in the article – that people can dress as they like. However, as a fashion/lifestyle blogger, part of my role is to delve a bit deeper into style/image issues and to talk about how clothing communicates. To your comment of “get with the times” – I am! If you read the full article, you will notice I am not at all advocating for “prudish” dressing. Rather, I am suggesting that you can strike a balance and shoot for a more sophisticated version of sex appeal. Sexy doesn’t necessarily mean more skin. Want to show some leg? A mini skirt paired with a higher neck top can be incredibly alluring. Want to show cleavage? Balance plunging necklines with a longer hemline. Do you honestly think the examples I shared in this post look prudish?! Finally, while I welcome varied opinions on this blog, your insinuation that I am one of those people who say women who are raped are “asking for it” it WAY off base. My aversion to the word “sexy” stems mainly from my time in broadcasting and some of the silent harassment that goes on in the industry. I would encourage you to read my post on that, before dishing out such labels. I don’t pretend to be the ultimate authority on fashion, but my blog readers do ask for advice in this area and my focus is on elegant style. As a former TV news anchor, I’ve had extensive training on professional image and perception. I’m just trying to share some of that knowledge with others…. Oh, and I’m 35 – Are you saying 40 is ancient? I thought 40 was the new 30, lol!

  4. Db | 25th Dec 19

    I enjoy the classy full covered looks woman had in the earlier times 1910-1945 timeline.

    • laveremis | 28th Dec 19

      This is so funny, because I’ve often thought that myself. I love period films and sometimes think I was meant for an earlier era! Hope you had a wonderful holiday.

  5. Maya | 28th Apr 20

    I absolutely love this article and found it extremely helpful. I’m a 21 year old woman and have been experiencing more and more situations that require specific attire for the occasion. I always felt out of place on a night out to bars or clubs because I never felt confident wearing skin-tight clothing showing off a lot of my assets. It can be very difficult to determine what is considered trashy or classy in this day and age. While I totally support women wearing WHATEVER makes them feel confident, I do share many of your tips and opinions on what can be considered as truly beautiful and elegant. I support all fashion choices a woman makes but I totally cannot pull off all of it.This definitely made me feel so much more comfortable going out and not feeling pressured to show off all! Thanks!!

    • laveremis | 30th Apr 20

      Hi Maya,
      I can’t tell you how happy I am to hear that this is helpful — and that it came across as I intended. My purpose is not to tell anyone how they should dress, but rather to offer a perspective that reaffirms that it is OKAY if you DON’T want to show everything off. Choosing subtlety and mystery doesn’t make you any less attractive. In fact, some might argue it makes you more beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing your experiences and thoughts.

  6. Bondi | 3rd Oct 20

    Hey! Love the article i m a 30 year old man and totally agree women can wear whatever they want, but balance is the key word. Women that show less are actually more alluring and project an image of greater confidence (my opinion, lool), showing a bit too much has been a put off for me, long story short, ur article is spot on!

  7. Aneta Brlikova | 7th Oct 20

    I absolutely agree with you!
    Good article 🙂

  8. Truth | 26th Oct 20

    Great article. Ignore that lady by the name of “Lex” who called you a Prude. She is probably one of those clueless people who wonders why her casual hookups won’t date her.

  9. Kayla elizebeth | 15th Oct 21

    It dosent matter the times it could be 2030 2050 dress with respect I’m 25 And there’s certain clothes I won’t wear style no style if I would be embarrassed to walk in front of my pops or mom I won’t wear it out cuz u feel that embarrassment for a reason I know I do it’s cuz I respect my parents and they taught me to respect myself that iwas a women of value and I just feel not every guy deserves to see my goodies there mine and I think ur lucky if I let u see them I value myself and people who value themselves respect that if I want attention I’ll dress like a slut and I’ll get attention from men who want nothing but a slut dress like a hi quality women u attract hi quality attention and men will respect me because I conduct myself with respect even low value men will respond differently to a women of class then a women with none u decide which to be this lady is trying to help u attract success future not poverty and baby daddyss I’m a intellectual women as well and I don’t like being stared at and not listened to it frustrated me having to beg a man I loved when I was younger to listen to me that I was a person a human with feelings not a object can he please focus and listen I didn’t like that feeling I wanted to be heard listened to not every person I ever be friends.with my whole life even women coming onto me I wanted a real friend and I have one now it’s me and I developed a whole new type of respect for me love for me and I value myself now and won’t let just anyone get to close or personal or feel they are invited to In any way I’m expensive I’m a diamond and when u treat yourself and conduct urself as a diamond u shine brighter and men looking for only a diamond will notice only a diamond women can understand that I respect what ur doing those who don’t understand will one day.

  10. Kayla elizebeth | 15th Oct 21

    Sorry that girl lex pissed scrolling through I apologize im not sure if the previous comment posted or not but of it did I apologize

  11. Lila | 13th Feb 22

    Wow Kayla you took the words right out of my mouth yes that is exactly the definition of a true woman of worth, not women of low value who have sold their dignity to become so cheap. These things become clearer as we get older. Most men out there want exactly that sluts and not women of worth but for those women who realize this sooner and not sell their dignity and modesty are the ones with real self respect, self worth, and the embodiment of true self love.

  12. Rianne | 6th Jul 22

    I hope to hear more from you. I like your message. I’m also one of those women who would rather look classy than sexy. There are women who show some skin yet they still manage to look elegant by the way they carry themselves, the way they talk, and just by behaving well. I also don’t agree that if a woman show too much skin and act too flirty or uneducated, she is just revealing who she is. but if an educated and elegant woman wears sexy clothes, she still loon respectable. I followed you on twitter by the way. I hope to read inspiring messages from you.

  13. Rianne | 6th Jul 22

    I really feel sorry for Lex bec she acted trashy. That kind of person even without seeing her face you can already tell she is trashy. The way she talks even if she is wearing expensive clothes, the way she delivers her opinion tells exactly how crass she is.

    I hope to hear more from you. I like your message. I’m also one of those women who would rather look classy than sexy. There are women who show some skin yet they still manage to look elegant by the way they carry themselves, the way they talk, and just by behaving well. Some women show too much skin and act too flirty or uneducated, she is just revealing who she is. but if an educated and elegant woman wears sexy clothes, she still looks respectable. I followed you on twitter by the way. I hope to read more inspiring messages from you. God speed.

  14. Aaron Dehne | 31st Aug 22

    Looking sexy in public is all on you ,really think about it. Ask yourself in front of the mirror would your old man want any other man looking at you in this, 90% of the time you want to be looked at but yet you don’t want them to look at you and say anything. Sexy is a term used for something that looks sexy period. What you put out is what you’re going to get. So many times it comes back the fault of the man. ask yourself why is that. Let’s stop playing games and realize that women want to be recognized if they are wearing these things. You can wear sexy stuff around the house to please your man, what are you doing outside of the home.?? Enough of the false innocence. Expect compliments if you are dressing sexy. a man knows no other way to give you a compliment then what comes off the top of his head. Is he wrong to act normal? Furthermore there’s a lot of men that will make a comment towards a woman calling her sexy hot or whatever but would not touch her with a 10-ft pole so don’t give yourself that type of credit. Sex is just the same with men as it is with women. it takes two and it has to be consensual.

    • laveremis | 9th Sep 22

      Hi Aaron, it’s nice to have a male perspective here – so thank you for sharing your thoughts. As a woman, I can only speak from my personal point of view and it is helpful to get inside the head of other people on touchy topics like this. You are absolutely right that attitude is the most crucial thing! Confidence, poise and kindness are what make a personal beautiful (at least in my humble opinion). Appreciate you stopping by and chiming in to broaden our discussion on this topic!

  15. Aaron Dehne | 31st Aug 22

    Think of it as if you wear something sexy you will project to any male that finds you attractive the sense of eroticness. If you wear something classy you will get classy comments. Expect compliments!. Depending on the types of comments that you are getting more than likely depends on the clothes that you are wearing. So in effect you wear what you want outside of your home and project what you want if you stick with that you will never go wrong. The problem is there are women that wear skimpy clothing to look sexy for only one man and expect that only one man to make a comment to them. I mean hello.. you can do that in private. Men enjoy seeing women dressed in sexy clothing No doubt we salute you but if you don’t want to be judged as “not being classy”don’t dress the part. When my lady dresses sexy for me out in public it looks nice to me but it also looks nice to other males. It doesn’t bother me that other men look at her because I know her attitude. If she couldn’t put up with other men hooting at her she wouldn’t be wearing what she wears. So in a sence please stop badgering male egos and blaming them for your own actions in what you wear in public. So many women compete for men by dressing more erotic to stand out. If there were no males to find you attractive or if males found other males attractive what would the female species do,… Flaunt their sexyness to other women? I would say the safest bet is dress yourself and ask yourself if it would be appropriate in front of your mother and father for work. If you’re going to a club or to show yourself off dress to kill and expect the damn compliments. 🍻

  16. Lauren | 6th Jan 23

    What are your thoughts on how lately, it seems most decent, classic, options for women have been replaced with some form of elastane waistline, such as ponte pants, leggings, cycle shorts, joggers, loungewear, etc? Do you think the pendulum will swing in the other direction or that it’s time to stock up on the few remaining classy items and find a good tailor? I’m intentional about sustainable items of high-quality material and it seems that if an online shop offers nice button-downs for example, it’s usually still difficult to find high-quality, classic, trousers.

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