What it means to act like a lady is decided by society, meaning that how to act ladylike will change as society's views about femininity evolve. But there are a few ladylike characteristics that will always be important because they are widely admired qualities that all good people share, such as kindness and integrity, grace and style, and respecting yourself and others. In general then, being ladylike really just means being a decent and courteous person and treating yourself and others well.

Part 1
Part 1 of 3:

Loving and Taking Care of Yourself

  1. Caring for yourself can be as simple as eating well, exercising regularly, looking after your body, and getting enough sleep every night. Not only will you stay healthy and fit, but you'll also be alert and ready for anything! Proper hygiene is also essential for good health, and it will make you feel better about yourself.
    • Shower daily, keep your hair clean, floss every day, and brush your teeth at least twice a day. Keep your nails trimmed and clean. You don't have to go overboard with the lotions, creams, exfoliants, and other beauty products, either: a good bar of soap, face cloth, and moisturizer can go a long way.
    • Eat a healthy breakfast. This is especially important for younger children and adolescents, because it gives you energy for the day, and leads to better academic and athletic performance.[1]
    • It's ok to indulge in junk food once in a while, but overall, strive to make healthy food choices.
    • Exercise in the morning. It may be difficult at first, but your body will adjust. Morning workouts kick start your metabolism and give you a rush of endorphins that will improve your mood, wake you up, and help you focus.[2]
    • Teens and young adults require between 7 and 10 hours of sleep per night, so don't sacrifice rest on account of friends, work, or anything else.
  2. Sophistication and maturity come from being independent, self-confident, and in control. You've probably heard the saying “everything in moderation,” and this applies to all aspects of life. Life is all about finding a balance between things you like and those you must do, things you should do and those you shouldn't, and things that are fun and those that are necessary. Give yourself the same opportunities as everyone else, by educating yourself and staying in school, setting goals, and having expectations of yourself and others, but enjoy life along the way as well.
    • The decision to wear cosmetics is yours alone, but if you choose to, use tones and colors that complement and highlight your natural beauty, and remember that less is more. Wearing or not wearing makeup doesn't make you any more or less of a lady. The same holds true for jewelry and accessories.
    • Working hard is important, but it's equally important to relax and have fun. An intelligent and mature lady knows when to take time for herself.
  3. Loving and respecting yourself means appreciating that you are unique and being true to yourself. Don't compromise your values for someone else, and don't try to change who you are to impress anyone. Be confident in who you are and people will be drawn to your strength.
    • Learn how to say “no,” and don't be afraid to say it if you aren't comfortable with something. Peer pressure is a strong force, but resisting the temptation to do something just to fit in is all part of knowing who you are and sticking to your guns.
  4. Life is going to throw many dress codes at you, and school, work, clubs, meetings, and other places will all have different expectations regarding clothing. The important thing is to dress in a way that makes you comfortable. Part of showing self-respect and self-confidence is dressing for yourself and in a way that shows your personality, not dressing immodestly or wearing revealing clothes to just gain attention from others.[3] Clothing doesn't have any intrinsic value, but it can make you feel confident, smart, and powerful.
    • Clothes should always be clean, neat, and pressed if necessary.
    • Well-made garments in high-quality fabrics are an investment, but they will last longer and make more of an impression.
    • Neutral and pastel colors are timeless and won't go out of fashion.
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Part 2
Part 2 of 3:

Treating Others with Respect and Dignity

  1. You don't have to share everyone else's values or traditions, but strive to recognize and accept the differences that make people unique. Be tolerant of other people's customs and lifestyles and they will do the same for you! People come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors, and have many backgrounds and beliefs, but for every difference there is also a commonality. Acceptance and tolerance are all about appreciating what makes us individual, and not disliking someone else just because she's different.
    • Have the courage to stand up against intolerance and oppression. This can come in the form of racism, sexism, ageism, religious intolerance, or any other form of bigotry. Let people know if they are acting unfairly or being prejudiced, and encourage them to be more open. Write letters or use social media to alert the government, newspapers, businesses, or human rights groups about unjust practices or policies.
    • Don't judge others before you get to know them, and try not to make assumptions. If you are curious about someone, ask her a question. She may not be comfortable answering you (especially if you are strangers), but asking won't hurt, and she'll appreciate your effort.
    • Promote peace by offering to moderate discussions if you see friends or classmates arguing. A moderator helps people communicate more effectively by ensuring speakers get their turns and aren't interrupted, and making sure things don't get too heated.
  2. Nobody likes a rude or insulting person. Stick with the old adage: if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. If somebody is rude to you, the classiest thing you can do is walk away. Tell her you don't appreciate her behavior, but don't provoke her further or dignify her behavior by returning it.
    • Don't make fun of others, and don't laugh at the expense of someone else's feelings.
    • Avoid cursing and telling offensive jokes. Avoid jokes that poke fun at others because of culture, appearance, sex, sexual orientation, or other personal matters.
    • Be sensitive to the needs of others, and don't deliberately make others uncomfortable. For instance, if your friend is extremely shy, don't put her on the spot as the center of attention, because she'll be embarrassed.
  3. You can show respect for others by being considerate of their feelings, and by being honest, open, and fair. This tells them that you care, that you are a good person, and that you are deserving of their respect. And this doesn't just apply to parents, teachers, and people older than you: everyone deserves respect, the elderly and the young, and you can provide it by being polite, courteous, and trustworthy.
    • One of the easiest ways to show respect is by respecting someone else's time and being punctual.
    • Address people with the proper titles of respect, such as Mr. and Ms.
    • Keep your promises.
  4. Practice active listening by paying attention to what people say and striving to understand what they mean.[4] People aren't always up front with their feelings or intentions, and it's ok to ask for clarification if you're unsure. During a conversation with someone:
    • Put your phone away and give her your undivided attention.
    • Make eye contact, and acknowledge what she says.
    • Be aware of your body language. Crossed arms indicate guardedness. Practice keeping your arms naturally at your sides.
    • Don't interrupt: you'll get your turn! And once you've made your point, give her a chance to respond.
    • Show you are engaged and interested. You can do this by not making everything about yourself, and not trying to outdo her stories. It also helps to smile when appropriate and react with subtle facial expressions.
  5. Don't brag about things you have, like friends or money, because it is boastful. Similarly, avoid talking about all the great things you've done, because it will make people uncomfortable. People say that honesty is the best policy, and this is true when it comes to friends, family, co-workers, fellow students, and everyone else in your life. Lying is rude, disrespectful, and embarrassing when you get caught, so the truth is always a better option.
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Part 3
Part 3 of 3:

Practicing Kindness and Courteousness

  1. Courtesy isn't always something that people detect, but they certainly take notice when it's lacking. Manners and etiquette are important in all parts of life, whether you're at school, work, out to dinner with friends, in a business meeting, or even just on the phone. Being polite tells somebody that you are respectful and considerate.
    • Enroll yourself in an etiquette class if you feel you are lacking in this department.
    • Hold the door for people.
    • Remember the names of new people you meet. Call them by their names when you address them. When you are first introduced to a new person, repeat her name to yourself three times if you have trouble remembering names.
    • Don't participate in gossip.
  2. Introduce yourself to new people, and make introductions for people who don't know each other but with whom you are acquainted. Don't be afraid to make the first move with a new person in a social setting! Chances are she might be too shy to come up to you, and she'll appreciate that you had the courage to approach her.
    • Compliments are a great way to start a conversation. Tell her you like her boots, or her hair, or her shirt, or say something else nice about her.
    • Ask her something about herself to get the ball rolling. When appropriate, reciprocate and tell her something personal (but not overly intimate) about yourself so that it feels like a conversation and not an interrogation.
    • Steer clear of sensitive topics like religion and politics. Start with small talk and keep the conversation light.
  3. If you ask someone for a favor, say “please,” even if you're just asking her to pass the pepper. When she does, say “thank you.” It's sweet, simple, and goes a long way to show appreciation. Congratulate people when they accomplish their goals, because everyone likes being recognized for hard work. If you make a mistake, don't be afraid to apologize. You don't have to apologize for every little thing, but a simple “I'm sorry” when you're wrong can mend relationships, and shows others that you care about their feelings, and that you are strong enough to admit when you're wrong.
    • Be genuine when you express gratitude and compliments. People will pick up on your insincerity if you say things without meaning them.
  4. Table etiquette can be quite complicated, especially in a fine dining establishment with multiple courses that require numerous utensils. But every meal deserves the respect of some basic etiquette, and the ground rules include:
    • Chew with your mouth closed, and don't speak with your mouth full.
    • Ask people to pass items you cannot reach. If you have to reach over someone to get it, you can't reach it.
    • Cut food one bite at a time, and only eat one bite at a time.
    • Sit up straight, and keep your elbows off the table.
    • Use your napkin to delicately wipe your face.
    • Say “excuse me” before leaving the table.
    • Don't take a sip of your drink until you have finished chewing.
  5. Being a lady doesn't have anything to do with how nice your house is, what kind of car you or your parents drive, or how much money you have. Instead, being a lady, like being a gentleman, has to do with your kindness and character.
    • Donate old clothes to charities.
    • Stay active in your community. Get to know your neighbours.
    • Help out if you see someone in need, even if it's just helping a young child across the street safely.
    • Welcome new people who move into your neighbourhood.
  6. Not everyone has the resources to give money to charities, but a good cause always needs people who can lend a hand. Volunteerism is a great way to get involved, meet new people, help out in your community, and it will show prospective employers that you are dedicated and generous.
    • Food banks are in need of helping hands and food year-round (not just around the holidays). Help out on weekends if you can, or talk to your school about organizing a food drive.
    • Spend time with the elderly. It can get lonely at home, in the hospital, or at a care facility, and elderly citizens often appreciate having someone to talk to, play games with, or just spend time with.
    • Check with your local animal shelter to see if there are tasks you can help with.
    • Find something you are passionate about and research charities and organizations that you can volunteer with.
  7. This can be as simple as tutoring fellow students in subjects you excel at, or helping friends study for tests and exams.
    • Help younger children in your school or community who are learning to read and write. Become pen pals with a few of them so they can practice these skills.
    • Provide lessons to older people in your community who want to learn to use computers or other technology.
    • Teach younger children how to play a sport you are good at, or help out a coach in your community.
  8. Talking to strangers can be difficult, but you will get comfortable the more you do it. Give others a chance to talk, and if you get stuck for something to discuss, ask a couple questions. People like to talk about themselves, and it's polite to show genuine interest in what they say. One of the most important aspects of carrying on a conversation is your ability to listen.
    • Try to find hobbies that you share that you can discuss.
    • Keep apprised of the news and world events. This is important for your own knowledge, but these subjects also come up in conversation frequently.
    • Speak slowly, clearly, and eloquently; avoid curse words, contractions, and slang.
    • Knowledge is key: the more you know, the more likely you are to find common ground with strangers.
    • Avoid boring or negative topics that might bring down the mood of the conversation, such as death, war, violence, or drugs. Keep things light.[5]
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About This Article

wikiHow is a “wiki,” similar to Wikipedia, which means that many of our articles are co-written by multiple authors. To create this article, 30 people, some anonymous, worked to edit and improve it over time. This article has been viewed 173,844 times.
34 votes - 84%
Co-authors: 30
Updated: December 23, 2023
Views: 173,844
Categories: Youth