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.

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