After writing my article on common misconceptions about traditional femininity, I decided very quickly that I wanted to turn this into a series in an attempt to reach more people who have all different types of ideas about what femininity means.
Starting with Femininity on a Budget is very important to me, because many outside influences that represent classic styles and feminine ideals, such as high fashion magazines, supermodels and social media influencers seem to, as a rule, have wealth at the forefront of their brand. Though I love flicking through Vogue, my heart always sinks when I see the prices of the garments that the model wears. Femininity is a very personal thing, but more importantly, money should have nothing to do with it!
What does femininity mean to YOU?
It all starts from within. Building and developing the right mindset about how you personally want to express your femininity is absolutely the first step. To me, femininity is all about class, which is why I turn to one of the most timeless fashion icons: Coco Chanel. Her attitudes about what class and elegance mean are universal rules to live by:
"There are people who have money and people who are rich."
"Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance."
"Elegance does not consist in putting on a new dress."
These quotes are so important to keep in mind when adjusting your mindset, as they teach the fact that class and wealth are completely different things. In my experience, some of the most elegant people I know are not often wealthy, and some of the least elegant people I know are not often poor. Femininity does not mean you have to be subservient to people and their expectations. On the contrary, I find that class and femininity start with self-respect. Much in the spirit of my last article on femininity, it should be unapologetically embraced!
To start, it's a good idea to explore what inspires you and to keep those influences in your orbit and your timeline if you are on social media. Follow social media influencers that inspire your idea of femininity, get on Pinterest and create a vision board that inspires you, or watch films or documentaries that have characters you admire. I have created a Pinterest board linked here as a starting point that covers all ranges of feminine inspiration. You will possibly discover similarities between ideas that catch your interest and be able to narrow down what it is that defines your idea of femininity.
"The best colour in the whole world is the one that looks good on you." - Coco Chanel
No matter what the popular style at the time, you will ALWAYS look best in what suits you, and what you feel comfortable in. Numerous times I have tried to follow the trends and been disappointed with the outcome. Not only did the styles not suit me, but I found that it was not me that received compliments, but the clothes. This is not what style should represent. Take some time to study your body shape, your skin tone and your hairstyle, as these are all the features that an outfit can enhance; you are as much a part of the outfit as the clothes are! Simplicity is always timeless, and timeless looks mean they will never go out of fashion. Ultimately this means you won't have to worry about breaking the bank every time there is a new trend on the catwalk. Not only this, but simple items can act as the base of an outfit, so you can wear them for all different occasions, using accessories to cater to the event, be it a birthday party, a supermarket trip, or a date.
There are times to invest in your fashion, however. This starts with finding your favourite stores. There are plenty of budget-friendly shops that provide excellent basics; I love these shops when I need socks, tights, T-shirts and basic accessories. However, when it comes to fit and quality, there are times when it is worth spending a few extra pounds. This doesn't mean spending £300 on a dress that you only wear once – quite the opposite. When it comes to a perfectly fitted pair of jeans, a good opaque white top, or a supportive and comfortable pair of shoes, you deserve quality. For example, buying a pair of jeans for £10 that don't fit well is not worth the investment when there is a £30 pair that fits like a glove and you will therefore get lots of wear out of. Similarly, buying a pair of shoes that are £15 more expensive than the budget-friendly pair will likely be more comfortable, and last longer. When you are comfortable with your sizing in a particular shop (especially as women’s sizing changes from store to store), shopping will in future be a much simpler experience.
Finally, style is not just the clothes you wear. Personal hygiene and putting effort into your appearance is just as important as your outfit. No expensive creams and potions can mask a lack of cleanliness and hygiene!
"My life didn't please me, so I created my life." - Coco Chanel
Being feminine does not start and end with a pretty outfit. It is much more important to be a well-rounded person with hobbies and experiences to talk about. The best part about this step is that it is almost always free, or incredibly inexpensive.
Educating yourself is the best way to start; there is no reason or excuse to play dumb! Read up on subjects that interest you, whether it is history, architecture, fashion and beauty, science or wildlife. Switching from Netflix to a book is a good step for all of us to be taking to make sure we don't stay too attached to the screen! That being said, it is also a great idea to watch documentaries instead of rewatching that sitcom for the 3rd time. Keeping your brain active and engaged is always important.
Understanding your strengths is also an essential part of being a classy, well-rounded person. Modesty is an important trait to have, but there is always time to build yourself up and celebrate your strengths! Being feminine does not mean you have to imitate a Jane Austen character; it's all about self-respect and respecting others. Similarly, if there's a particular hobby you've always wanted to take up, this is the perfect opportunity to do so. Pick up a new skill that embodies what femininity means to you, whether that is baking, sewing, gardening, photography, learning a new language, or woodwork! This will give you more incentive to stay true to your feminine side and invest in yourself. One of the best platforms for learning new skills is YouTube. It has endless content and is completely free!
"Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity." - Coco Chanel
Manners and common decency are the key ingredients of being feminine and classy. Contrary to what many people may think, class has nothing to do with money. In fact, it is widely considered vulgar to discuss money in social situations. This is an extension of educating oneself, as traditional etiquette is not encouraged as much in today's society. If manners and etiquette are something you find important for your femininity, then this is a good thing to read up on. Again, there is no need to buy hardback books, as there are plenty of blogs and YouTube videos out there that can inform you on any subject. Reading more, in general, will help to develop your vocabulary. These days, the language of texting has impaired our knowledge of the English language and reduced our vocabulary more than we realise. Authors such as Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy and the Bronte sisters have written some of our favourite classics and used the English language to its full extent.
Another key feature of classy, feminine behaviour that is not talked about so much is practising good posture. Not only does this elevate your image, but it is imperative for your physical health. In a world where we are always on our phones and spend a lot of time on our sofas, our posture has gone out the window. Posture is one of the easiest ways to help you feel and look more elegant while helping reduce spinal issues in later years!
Overall, being kind to others is not only a feminine trait but also something we should all be doing. Good manners will never fail to be an important part of life. Just as you would never wish someone to make you feel inferior, class as a trait means making everyone feel welcome and on the same level.
True femininity, manners and good etiquette transcend any wealth divide. Money should not come into the equation.