Audrey Hepburn. The iconic symbol of elegance and class. Who can forget the image of her standing in front of Tiffanys in a long black dress, hair done up hopelessly fancy, wearing big dark sunglasses? Or what about the slim black jeans and ballet flats in Funny Face? And I think I can never forget her strutting around Rome with Gregory Peck in Roman Holiday.
I admit that, on many occasions, I have tried to copy her. Once I even tried to tease the top of my hair before putting it into pigtails (a la a scene in Breakfast at Tiffanys). What can I say? Her look is, in a word, timeless. Yet what is it that draws us to her? Is it her unusual beauty? Her excellent fashion sense? Her distinct way of speaking?
No, I think it is something much deeper…something that encompasses all of these things and yet so much more. What was so memorable about Audrey Hepburn was that she had class.
Audrey Hepburn was far from perfect, and most of us know very little about her. And yet, almost everyone would consider her classy. But what was so peculiar about her that made her stand out? For one, she always dressed simply, but nicely. I have a feeling she wouldn’t be caught dead going into Walmart in dirty sweatpants and hair thrown up messily above her head. I could be wrong, but can you picture her that way? 🙂 I didn’t think so. This doesn’t mean that she always dressed fancy, but she did dress nicely, as if she put thought into what she wore and cared about those she would come in contact with.
A second thing I notice is her distinct way of speaking. She had a very specific accent, but it was something more than that. She was careful about what she said and pronounced it correctly and without being sloppy. She rarely used slang, and gave the impression that she wanted people to understand her.
Finally, Hepburn simply had a classy air about her. She stood erect and held her head high. She smiled simply and laughed freely. She exuded a friendly confidence. She seemed peaceful and carefree. She embodied what it means to have class, as far as it goes on the outside.
Now, class goes beyond mere outer traits. For a Christian, true class starts from within, with a pure and upright heart. A heart willing and eager to serve. A heart surrendered to God and his plans. A heart at peace. This classy heart, in turn, can’t help but spill out onto the outside.
So how can we reclaim what it means to be classy in the midst of a very class-less generation? Here are a few ideas:
1.) Start within. Like I said, class starts from the heart. First and foremost, you can’t live a truly classy life if you aren’t submitting daily to God. As our pastor pointed out recently, submission is more than just obedience; it’s surrendering our control. For instance, wives submitting to their husbands are, in essence, releasing their control of everything. Furthermore, submission means being at peace with letting go. Loosing your grip on things can make life so much easier and less stressful, and you find that you don’t have to worry about everything. God is in control, and you trust Him. More than that, He is overflowing out of you. You are in the Word daily, in prayer constantly, seeking hard after the Lover of your soul. When this is the case, His love, peace, and joy can do nothing but exude out of you.
2.) Start caring about others. In today’s society, there seem to be two extremes. Those that dress like slobs, and those that dress for the sole purpose of getting attention. Often, the slobs claim humility; they don’t want to dress to please others, they just want to dress to please God. Little do they know that their sloppy dress is dishonoring to God in so many ways! If we are ambassadors for Christ’s kingdom, should we not dress that way. Daughters of the King, you are princesses…why not dress like it? Take pride in who you are in Christ!
Beyond that, the way we dress impacts those around us. Ladies, if you really thought about the men you would be coming into contact with today, would you wear that low-cut top? If you thought about pleasing your husband would you dress nicer to show him that he is important to you? You see, that’s just it. When we take pride in our appearance and spend the time to look polished (not overdone, but polished), we are honoring everyone we come in contact with. We are saying to them that they are important to us…that we want to look nice for them. Classy women don’t draw attention to themselves with their hair and their dress, but they do dress nice. They put on makeup, if needed, and they fix their messy hair. They don’t wear clothes that are worn out, ill-fitting, or unattractive. And they aren’t afraid to dress up just to go to Tiffany’s. 🙂
3.)Train your tongue wisely. Speech is a powerful thing. It has the power to uplift, to sadden, to annoy, to anger, and to create every other emotion within someone. Our goal in our speech should be to uplift. Again, thinking about others comes into play here. Uplifting speech goes beyond simply speaking encouraging words and into honoring others by how we speak. We want people to feel that we care about their understanding us. Also, we want to show care in the exact words we use. We don’t want to talk like a genteel snob. However, we don’t want to appear to be careless and sloppy in our speech. Don’t speak too fast or use too many contractions or slang. Keep your accent, but avoid using it as an excuse to be lazy. Don’t talk too loud or too much. Save your words and choose them wisely, and yet, don’t mumble either. Speak clearly and to the point. Use your words to encourage people and build them up in the Lord. Remember, your tongue can make or break your class. You can appear classy until you open your mouth, and then the allusion fades away. Always think about whether or not you are honoring God in the way you speak.
4.) Feel it. Like I mentioned about, Christian women are daughters of the King. Yet, how many times do we think about this? I know so many Christian women who are depressed about themselves. They walk around with hunched over shoulders, feel self-conscious and afraid. Ladies, this should not be! God has made each of us beautiful and special in His eyes, in order to fulfill a unique purpose in our lives. If you are going to be classy, you must start feeling like the princess you are. Be proud of who you are. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others. Stand up erect and tall. Most importantly, smile and let the love of God shine through you!