The specifics on what it means to be a lady are not something universally agreed upon.
But research (so much research) has turned up some general rules.
If you cringe every time someone shares their outdated ideas on how to be ladylike, you're not alone.
But it's encouraging to see so many people calling out the body-shaming and misogyny baked into many of the old rules.
To get some clarity, let's start with the question, “What is ladylike behavior?”
Then we can move on to the why and the how.
What Makes a Lady a Lady?
If you're asking, “How do I become more ladylike and feminine?” you'll find plenty of value in the list further down.
But before we dive in, let's get clear on what it means to be a lady, starting with the following indispensable qualities:
The tips supplied in this post are for your personal reflection. The only comparison going on should happen between you and the woman you want to be.
How to Be a Lady: 105 Tips for the Modern Woman
As you read the following tips on how to act like a lady, keep in mind that no one has the right to impose on anyone else their idea of what it means to be feminine.
Mature womanhood doesn't look the same for everyone. And that's something to celebrate.
1. Be your authentic self (no faking).
2. Be kind to others, even when it's hard.
3. But don't mince words when the situation calls for clarity.
4. Believe in your own beauty. Don't wait for someone else to find it.
5. Remember and honor birthdays and anniversaries.
6. Don't give false compliments.
7. Tuck in your chair when you get up to leave.
8. Beauty addresses all the senses (not just sight).
9. Never make a sex tape or send nude selfies.
10. If you make a mistake, acknowledge it, and give a genuine apology.
11. Forgive those who (sincerely) ask your forgiveness.
12. Drink responsibly (if you drink).
13. Never laugh at another's mistake. We all make them.
14. Never laugh at another's misfortune (however tempting it might be).
15. Know your own value, and don't let anyone define it for you.
16. Know your limits (including your inability to read minds).
17. Make an effort to see the good in others (as well as in yourself).
18. Hold the door when someone is a few seconds (or less) behind you.
19. Disparaging another person's outfit or style is shallow and desperate.
20. Use profanity in moderation. And read the room before you use it at all.
21. Prioritize self-care (for you and others).
22. Prioritize alone time and personal space (for you and others).
23. Real beauty comes from within. Get to know yours.
24. Find clothes that fit comfortably and flatter you as you are now.
25. A lady holds her head high but doesn't look down her nose at anyone.
26. A true lady doesn't start fights. She knows how to respond and when to walk away.
27. Be the woman you need to be — not the woman someone else wants you to be.
28. Be considerate of neighbors with the noise level in your home.
29. Make gratitude a habit you always have time for.
30. Rather than complain about what's going wrong, focus on the next right thing to do.
31. Style your hair however it suits you. If you love it, no one else's opinion matters.
32. Personal grooming and hygiene should happen out of the public eye.
33. Treat others with the same respect with which you want to be treated.
34. Find a therapist who gets you (we all need one).
35. Keep learning new things, using the resources available to you.
36. Keep your home as clutter-free as possible. Let go of what doesn't serve you.
37. Give your body the movement it craves daily. But don't overdo it.
38. Clean up your own messes. Don't expect others to clean up after you.
39. Don't talk louder than necessary. But don't be afraid to speak up.
40. Don't look for things to criticize in other people.
41. Don't waste your time envying other people.
42. As much as possible, take responsibility for your own debts and expenses.
43. Don't take things personally.
44. Choose your words carefully. Make them count.
45. Be generous with the words, “Thank you.”
46. Ask politely before you bring an extra guest to someone else's party.
47. Be on time for your appointments and arranged meetings.
48. Don't make promises you can't keep.
49. Don't let your moods dictate your choices.
50. Live your life as you want to. You're the one who has to live it and learn from it.
51. Learn to disengage from your phone and pay attention to the world around you.
52. Surround yourself with the kind of people who inspire you to be better.
53. Spend some time alone to enjoy your own company and solitary pursuits.
54. Be a good (active) listener. Ask questions and listen without interrupting.
55. Give up your seat to those who look tired without expecting a “Thank you.”
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56. Offer your space in a queue to someone whose load of items to purchase is considerably smaller.
57. Invest in good shoes. How your feet feel has an enormous impact on your mood.
58. Always dress appropriately for the occasion.
59. Keep your hair and skin clean and neatly groomed.
60. Use good quality and budget-friendly skincare products.
61. Moisturize your skin every day to keep it healthy and hydrated.
62. Wash your face and remove make-up before going to bed.
63. Make a point of thanking those who've helped you in some way. Thank you notes are a nice touch.
64. Check up on friends and family members, especially when they're sick or hurting.
65. Bathe regularly to stay fresh and clean. It feels better and helps with confidence.
66. Learn how to apply make-up and cosmetics correctly, using complementary colors.
67. Always make an effort to look your best for company or your host/ess.
68. Make it a priority to go to a hair salon (as often as your budget permits) for a professional cut and style.
69. And always leave a generous tip. Trust that the stylist did their best for you.
70. Treat customer service representatives with as much courtesy and respect as you would treat a company CEO.
71. Never leave a restaurant without thanking the staff. And leave a generous tip.
72. Keep your clothes clean and, when not in use, neatly stored.
73. Do something every day to get your heart pumping and build muscle. It keeps your brain sharp and builds confidence.
74. Learn to live in the present moment.
75. Respect other people's perspectives. You don't know everything.
76. Hear someone out before you assume you know better.
77. Remember that what you've yet to learn will always be far more than what you know.
78. Be open to learning from others.
79. Don't make assumptions. Or do your best every day not to make them.
80. Don't tell jokes that are racist, homophobic, or culturally insensitive.
81. Don't flirt with men you're not interested in.
82. Steer clear of gossip and don't spread rumors about other people.
83. Don't post pics on the internet you wouldn't want your future grandkids to see.
84. Ladies don't brag about the labels they wear or about their lifestyle.
85. Ladies know table manners and practice them out of respect for others at the table.
86. You don't need to have perfectly-manicured fingernails, but avoid chewing on them.
87. If you use chewing gum, discard it before a meeting, meal, or interview.
88. Ladies know how to engage in conversation with others and build connections.
89. Ladies know and practice elevator etiquette.
90. As much as possible, use good posture. It feels better and helps with confidence.
91.Be a gracious hostess to put your guests at ease. And respect their dietary needs.
92. Ladies don't comment on other people's manners or lack thereof.
93. If someone asks an impertinent question, change the subject or walk away.
94. Don't voice opinions that are not your own. Share your own or none at all.
95. Make it a priority to be well-read. Take recommendations from those you trust.
96. Hang out with people who remind you of the person you want to be.
97. Return your shopping cart to a corral or to the cart collection area at the entrance.
98. Don't roll your eyes at people, and don't cut them off.
99. Ladies don't need to dominate a conversation. They listen and reflect on what they hear before adding to it.
100. Do what you can to make your living space and workspace as harmonious and nurturing as possible.
101. Set worthy goals and take consistent daily action toward them.
102. Pay no attention to petty criticism from people who don't like you.
103. A true lady has learned to focus on what she knows to be true and to be skeptical of what she doesn't.
104. Whatever your current situation, no one but you controls what you think, what you feel, and how you respond to others.
105. Give (real) love and keep learning. You'll regret neither.
Do you know how to be a lady?
Now that you know 105 ways to be a true lady, which of these tips stood out for you most? Which will you work on today or this week to become the woman you want to be?
In case you're wondering what's feminine about these virtues (that every sentient being should cultivate), the goal here isn't to impose a superficial idea of femininity.
Rather it’s to suggest practices that help each person mature in agreement with their soul's identity.
The best qualities in a person of any gender identity are universal.