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How to dress like a lady

Updated on March 21, 2013

How to dress like a lady - introduction

Many women around the world would like to know how to dress like a lady. This article is for girls and women, both young or old, who want to dress in a more feminine and ladylike way, and for mothers wishing to guide their daughters. It is easy to dress like a lady when you know how and this article will show you easy ways to achieve it.

  • Guiding principles - learn which principles to follow in order to dress like a lady.
  • 10 Famous women who dress in a ladylike way, that we can use for inspiration.
  • How to dress like a lady in Autumn/Winter - and the two KEY items you need
  • How to dress like a lady in Spring/Summer - and the three KEY items you need
  • Learn how to create a "10 item everyday wardrobe", that will help you dress like a lady everyday, and the types of clothes you need to have in it.
  • Hairstyles, grooming and make-up tips that will make you look like a lady
  • Accessories such as Shoes, Jewellery and Handbags to complete your look.
  • The benefits of dressing like a lady

It doesn't take a lot of time or money to start dressing in a more ladylike way. Start by taking just one small step at a time, such as changing your hairstyle, or buying a new pretty top to wear with your jeans and start to enjoy the benefits of dressing like a lady.

The benefits of dressing like lady

  • You will look more presentable, more pulled together and polished.
  • By looking better, you will feel better about yourself.
  • Other people will treat you better and with more respect.
  • It can help you in the work place and increase your chances of promotion.
  • You will enjoy being a woman and being feminine.
  • If you are hoping to attract a partner, you increase your chances by looking more feminine.
  • When you adopt this style, shopping becomes easier as you say no to other styles.
  • Your wardrobe will never date as dressing like a lady is always in style.

How to dress like a lady - the principles

It is easy to dress like a lady when you know how. There are certain principles that you need to bear in mind and follow. They are:

Self-respect - a lady respects herself and others and dresses in a way which reflects this respect.

Modesty - A lady dresses in a modest way. She doesn't want to draw attention to herself for all the wrong reasons and so avoids clothes such as skirts that are too short and tops that are too low. Instead, she chooses clothes such as tops that cover up her cleavage and skirts or dresses that end around the knee.

Feminine silhouette - The classic shape for a woman's body is the hourglass shape. From her curved bust line, her waist goes in and then her hips go out. A lady is highly aware of her feminine body shape and when putting an outfit together, aims to follow the soft curves of her body, maintaining the hourglass silhouette.

Sensuality - A lady enjoys being a woman in a sensual way. She enjoys feminine styles, colours and fabrics.

Feminine styles - A lady doesn't dress like a man, instead she embraces being a woman and dresses in a feminine way. A lady enjoys wearing feminine styles of clothing such as blouses, dresses and skirts. If she wears traditionally masculine styles such as trousers, she chooses a flowing style and if she wears jeans, she will soften the look with a pretty top.

Feminine fabrics - Some fabrics flow and drape and are perfect for a woman's body. They include silk, jersey, crepes, and fine wools and linens. They flow around a woman's body and are vey soft and sensual. In recent years, lycra has been added to fabrics,. As a result, some tailored garments, such as jackets and pencil skirts, contain a small amount of lycra which makes the clothes more comfortable and better suited to a curved body.

Feminine colours - a lady often likes to wear feminine colours. Examples include lavender, soft rose pink, soft lemon yellow, peach, cream, soft mint green.

Cleanliness and Tidiness - A lady will always look presentable. Her clothes will always be clean, tidy and well cared for. Her shoes are always clean and well looked after.

Simplicity, elegance and classics - Many of the styles that a lady wears are simple, elegant and classic in style - they stand the test of time and can last years. Simple, unfussy styles are also easy to wear and aren't distracting.

Quality - A lady values good quality clothes that will last many years. She purchases clothes that are well made and prefers natural fibres such as wool, cashmere, cotton, silk, and linen over synthetic fabrics. Good quality clothes can be found at mid-price stores.

Good Fit - a lady ensures that her clothes fit her. Not only are poorly fitting clothes uncomfortable to wear, they are noticed by other people, who may focus on your clothes rather than you. Make friends with a good tailor or seamstress who can alter your clothes if needed.

Neutral colours - These include black, navy, grey, tan, beige, cream, white. these are highly versatile and all mix and match together.

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10 Famous women who dress in a ladylike way

As a useful source of inspiration, there are many famous women who dress in a ladylike way. When you analyse their style, you will find that it is usually simple and elegant. These women are:

  • Audrey Hepburn
  • Grace Kelly
  • Jacqueline Kennedy
  • Coco Chanel
  • The Duchess of Cambridge (Kate Middleton)
  • Natalie Portman
  • Gwyneth Paltrow
  • Julie Andrews
  • Queen Rania of Jordan
  • Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain

The 10 Item everyday wardrobe

In order for you to start dressing in a more ladylike way, I recommend that you start with your everyday wardrobe, clothes that you wear to work, around the home and the week-ends.

The idea is that at the beginning of each season, you put together a "10 item everyday wardrobe" - a small collection of clothes, about 10 items in total, that all mix and match together, that you can wear every day.

  • If you work full time, your 10 item wardrobe may contain 7 items for work (2 bottoms, 4 tops, 1 jacket, and 3 items for the week-end (1 bottom and 2 tops).
  • If you don't work, or don't need to wear office wear to work, your wardrobe can be made up of pretty casual basics (4 bottoms, 1 dress, 5 tops).

The advantages of creating a 10 item everyday wardrobe;

  • Everything mixes and matches, making getting dressed in the morning easier.
  • Your everyday wardrobe is the best place to start in creating a more ladylike wardrobe.
  • Because you need less clothes, you can buy better quality clothes.

So, start to put together a 10 item wardrobe for the current season using your most feminine, ladylike clothes. If you don't have any read on for details on ladylike clothes for Autumn/ Winter and Spring/Summer and maybe buy a few to add to your wardrobe.

In addition to the 10 item everyday wardrobe, I also recommend that you have three complete outfits, including shoes, jewellery and bags, for the following occasions which crop up regularly in our lives, and it is best to be prepared for them:

  • An outfit for a party - either a LBD or a knee length cocktail dress in a basic colour.
  • An outfit for a wedding
  • A black outfit for a funeral.

Autumn / Winter 10 item everyday wardrobe

If you are reading this article and are currently in Autumn / Winter, I recommend the following styles are suitable for creating an Autumn / Winter 10 item everyday wardrobe that is both ladylike and stylish. These styles are suitable for both a work environment or for wearing at home:

  • A wrap dress - wrap dresses are feminine and comfortable. For winter choose one in a wool jersey and a neutral colour or a basic colour such as burgundy, bottle green or dark purple.
  • Pencil skirts - A pencil skirt is an easy way to achieve a ladylike look. For your first pencil skirt, buy one in a neutral colour such as black, navy, grey, dark brown or tan. Choose one in wool or a wool blend for warmth. The most flattering length is just below the knee, where the calf curves in just under the knee.
  • Long wool skirts - plain or patterned. These look very elegant when worn with long winter boots.
  • Trousers - choose a soft style in a wool or wool mix
  • Dark denim jeans - in a casual but smart style
  • Cardigans and sweaters. Choose simple styles with modest necklines.
  • Long sleeve jersey tops - useful for layering.
  • Long sleeve blouses - in a wool mix for warmth.
  • A silk or wool blouse with a pussycat bow collar. These are very ladylike and look nice if you are in your 20' or 30's but if you are an older women, avoid them as they may make you look matronly.
  • A pretty printed long sleeve blouse

All of the above items are very modest, simple, feminine and timeless in style, that should mix and match easily with each other.

The 2 key items for a winter wardrobe

Before you start creating your 10 item winter wardrobe, you may like to check that you have the following two key winter wardrobe essentials:

  • A good quality ladylike winter coat
  • A pair of leather boots.

They are a good place to start building your ladylike winter wardrobe because when you are out and about, this is how most people will see you and are unlikely to see what you are wearing underneath.

  • Key Item No. 1 - a Ladylike winter coat

For your coat choose one in either a neutral colour (black, navy, grey, dark brown, camel) or a basic colour (red, burgundy, wine, bottle green, olive, purple), no loud tacky colours.

Choose a coat in a feminine style.

Try to buy a coat which is made from 100% wool rather than 100% synthetics. A wool coat will be warmer and look better than a coat made from synthetics. If you are on a tighter budget, look for a coat that is a wool/synthetic blend. If your budget runs to it, you may like to treat yourself to a more luxurious coat, one made from 100% cashmere or a wool/cashmere blend.

A good winter coat should last at least 10 years and is an investment item. To keep it looking good, at the end of every winter, get it dry cleaned.

Think about the length of the coat that you are buying. Just below the knee or longer is a good length as it is warm and covers up what you are wearing underneath.

Buy a hat, scarf and gloves to match.

  • Key Item No. 2 - Leather boots.

In winter, boots are the most practical footwear option and there is no reason why they can't be stylish too. You can either choose long or ankle length boots and I recommend a flat or low heel as they are safer on winter pavements. Choose boots in a neutral colour such as black, brown or tan that matches or complements your winter coat.

  • Long leather boots - If you like to wear skirts or dresses, you may like to buy a pair of long leather boots to wear with them. They will look great with your winter coat.
  • Ankle boots - If you prefer to wear trousers rather than skirts or dresses, you may like to buy a pair of ankle boots. Choose a pair that will look good with both jeans and more formal trousers.

Spring / Summer 10 item everyday wardrobe

If you are reading this article and your current seaon is Autumn / winter, you may like to create your 10 item everyday wardrobe based on the following feminine and ladylike suggestions and bear in mind the need to dress modestly in summer.

Dress modestly in the summer.

The aim of a lady when dressing in the summer is to continue to dress in a modest way. Many women make the mistake of wearing skimpy clothes in the summer and showing off too much flesh. There is a way to keep cool as the temperature rises and to maintain your ladylike style. You can start to create your Spring / Summer 10 item everyday wardrobe using the following style ideas:

  • A Sundress - always look feminine and keeps you cool
  • A long floaty skirt or maxi dress - can be very cool and looks great with wedge sandals.
  • Long wide, floaty linen trousers - cool and elegant
  • Silk or cotton shell tops, these have short sleeves and round necks.
  • Pretty silk or cotton short sleeve blouses
  • Shorts - shorts have their place, for example if you are on holiday or on the beach, just make sure they aren't too revealing.
  • Vest tops and t-shirts. Make sure they aren't too revealing and look for more feminine and luxurious versions in fabrics such as silk or silk/cotton mix.
  • Short sleeve cotton cardigans
  • Cotton skirts, either in plain colours or a pretty print.
  • Cool linen or cotton jackets

What not to wear

  • Mini skirts and skimpy shorts - both are too revealing.
  • Cropped tops - show too much flesh.
  • Anything that you can see through.

Key items for summer

The key items for summer are:

Summer underwear - bras, knickers, slips and hosiery

When summer arrives, many women like to wear lighter clothing such as linen trousers, t-shirts and strappy tops. Because summer weight fabrics are so thin, a woman's underwear can often be seen underneath. Therefore, i recommend buying the following types of underwear:

  • A jersey t-shirt bra - gives a smooth streamlined look when worn under a t-shirt. Choose one in white or skin-tone.
  • A bra with clear straps or a strapless bra. In summer, if you like to wear strappy tops and dresses, the chances are that the straps on your normal bra will show. Therefore, invest in a new bra for summer in either white or skin-tone.
  • A white Cotton slip - if you like to wear thin cotton skirts or dresses in summer, invest in a white cotton slip to wear beneath them. This helps to avoid the embarassment of your clothes becoming see-through in strong sunlight.
  • Summer knickers - choose knickers in white or skintone to avoid them being seen under your clothes. Make sure you don't have a VPL - visible panty line.
  • Hosiery - There may be occasions where you are required to wear tights or stockings, such as for work or a special event such as a wedding. Choose the lightest hosiery you can find, no more than 5 to 10 denier, in a colour that matches your skin-tone.


Accessories are an important part of creating a ladylike look and there are certain accessories that are easily identifiable as lady like. They are usually very classic and conservative in style:

For day time

  • A string of pearls
  • A simple and classic watch
  • Pearl earrings

For evening

  • A simple diamond stud earring

However, for some women, this look is too conservative and there are alternatives.

For example, sometimes a pretty pair of earrings or a bold necklace is all you need to dress up a plain outfit, or a great pair of stylish sunglasses or chic handbag.

The key is not to go too over the top, too flashy and look vulgar. Less is more.

Aim to build up a small collection of beautiful and feminine accessories that help you to dress up your wardrobe basics.

Scarves are a great accessory and if you enjoy wearing scarves and would like to learn how to tie them in interesting ways, you may like to read these articles which include easy to follow youtube video tutorials:

Footwear - Shoes, boots and sandals

Shoes form a very important part in putting a ladylike outfit together.

I recommend the following three styles as the core items in a shoe wardrobe as they are highly versatile.

  • A pair of flat black ballet pumps - can be worn with jeans, trousers and a black pencil skirt.
  • A pair of black high heels - can be worn with a little black dress, black pencil skirt and black evening trousers.
  • Silver high heel sandals - can be worn with cocktail dresses, party dresses and ballgowns.

You can later add styles such as:

  • Low heel brown leather ankle boots - to wear with jeans and casual trousers
  • Low heel summer sandals - in a neutral colour

When buying shoes, you may like to bear the following in mind:

  • The aim of shoes is to protect your feet and they should be comfortable to walk in.
  • Choose simple, elegant, classic styles but in a contemporary updated version.
  • The right shoes almost become invisible, they don't draw attention to themselves.
  • Choose good quality shoes in natural materials such as leather, instead of synthetics.
  • Avoid shoes that are too high, they are difficult to walk in and can look vulgar.

Take care of your shoes, if you have bought good quality shoes they should last you a long time. Keep them clean and regularly re-heeled.

Ladylike Hairstyles

For a lady, her hair is her crowning glory. She chooses a feminine hairstyle that harmonises with the feminine clothes that she wears.

She pays particular attention to the condition of her hair, making sure that it is trimmed regularly, washed frequently, so that it looks clean and conditions it regularly to keep it in the best condition.

Some women choose to have a short layered hairstyle for practical reasons, but it doesn't make you look feminine.

Instead, you can choose from these hairstyles that are both feminine and easy to look after and style:

  • A classic bob
  • Shoulder length hair either all one length or layered.

A shoulder length hairstyle is very versatile, it can be worn up in a sleek ponytail for the daytime, down for a soft, feminine look, or worn up in an up-do such as a french pleat or chignon for an elegant look for the evening or special occasions.


If you to become more ladylike in your appearance, you also need to pay attention to your grooming. The aim of good grooming is not to spend hours trying to look perfect, but to look clean, tidy and presentable.

I have already written a couple of articles on grooming which you may like to read. They are:

The first article covers the basics of good grooming, which is carried out everyday. It is a useful article to read for anyone who wants to know how to dress like a lady.

The second article covers more advanced grooming, and is useful if you have a special occasion coming up and want to look your best, such as a job interview, wedding or party, or you want to dress in a more sophisticated way.

I hope you find them useful.


An important part of dressing like a lady is wearing make-up. Make-up can camouflage any skin imperfections, give you a well groomed look and enhance your natural beauty.

When deciding what colour make-up to wear, you need to take into account whether your colouring and skin tone is cool or warm. You may like to visit your local department store where the make-up consultant can help you decide which colours look best on you, or visit a site such as Colour Me Beautiful, which helps you determine your colouring.

Once you know your best colours, I recommend a "no-makeup" look that is quick and easy to apply and instantly gives you a polished look. You are wearing make-up, but it is so subtle, that you look like you aren't wearing any.

  • After cleansing and moisturing your skin apply the following:
  • A light layer of foundation where you need it to cover up imperfections.
  • A light dusting of powder
  • A light coat of mascara to your lashes, in a natural dark brown colour or black.
  • A light sweep of blusher
  • A clear lip gloss or light touch of lipstick in a colour similar to you lip colour.

you don't have to wear make-up all the time, particularly if you are at home, but it is nice to use it as a tool to help you look your best when you are going to work or a special event.

If you have enjoyed reading this article and found it useful, you may enjoy these too:

How to be a lady

French Style - French women are famous for their French style. These articles share their secrets with you:

How to be Chic - Many women wish to be chic and stylish. These articles show you how to look chic and live a chic lifestyle for all budgets.

Minimalist Wardrobes - Many women wish to declutter their wardrobes and create a small and stylish collection of clothes that perfectly meets their needs. Learn how you can too.

Good Grooming - Good grooming is an essential part of looking well presented. It doesn't take long or need to cost much. Learn how you can easily be well groomed at all times here:

How to tie scarves: Scarves are a stylish way to create a feminine and ladylike look. Learn how to tie and wear them in these articles:


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