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 don’t think of myself in 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.

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 communication—be it online or in person—it usually precedes things I don’t want to hear about, things a stranger has no business saying to a married woman. However well-intentioned, unless it’s 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 (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 not certainly perfect and I don’t get this 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!

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