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.
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?
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 (Velvet Lotus Photography) uses it for senior portraits. As he put it, it makes a “mother-approved” style statement.
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?