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8 Books on Being Classy (To Become the Best Version of Yourself)

We can all recall that moment when someone cuts in front of us in line or barges into us in the grocery store without even saying “sorry”. You could be gracious and just sum it up to this person having a rough day. After all, we’re no strangers to those! Or…maybe we’ve lost some of those good manners in our current society, with all its busy, busy people? On the bright side, it still looks like many of us believe in the importance of proper etiquette, and this post is for them and all the ones that want to learn with these books on being classy!

8 Books on Being Classy

Being Classy With Others

50 Things Every Young Lady Should Know: What to Do, What to Say, and How to Behave

books on being classy
Amazon, $16.35

Ever find yourself stuck in a situation where you’re unsure of what to do and say? It happens to the best of us. Thankfully, this book covers very relatable and practical topics such as how to make conversation with adults, how to accept a gift you don’t like, how to dress appropriately, how to write a thank-you note, and last but not least, how to win and lose graciously.

Though the world is ever-changing and it seems people practice classiness and good manners less and less, traits like these are desired more than ever. This book will be your toolkit to developing manners that will never go out of style.

Emily Post’s Etiquette, 19th Edition: Manners for Today

books on being classy
Amazon, $22.51

It wouldn’t be a list of books on being classy without including Miss Manners herself, Emily Post. First written in 1922, this 19th edition still incorporates the wholesome values of previous generations, with added updates for our modern world. And as a lovely bonus touch, includes contributions from Posts’ great-great-grandchildren.

The work is an impressive treasure chest of knowledge, with advice on the proper etiquette surrounding many of life’s significant stages such as birth, marriage, work, family, illness, and death. Understanding how to act in situations like these gives us a foundation to fall back on in times of stress & fear, helping us to navigate some of life’s trickier moments.

It’s not all doom and gloom though! The book serves as a gentle reminder that good etiquette isn’t supposed to be snobby or uptight, but is a way to show sensitivity to others’ feelings. And lastly, have fun with it, some rules are meant to broken! Emily Post herself, was a published writer and working woman, in a time when this was not common.

Honorable mentions

Modern Manners: Tools to Take You to the Top
Liv Tyler, the actress, is known to be softly spoken and an embodiment of grace. Turns out that’s no coincidence as her grandmother is a world-renowned etiquette expert! They’ve now combined forces in writing this book. You’ll gain tools to help you increase your confidence and success in business and social circles, all while exuding plenty of class along the way. Memorable quote, “Livvy, always take the high road, because the low road is so crowded.”

Aesop’s Fables
Perhaps an unconventional choice, but I’m sure you remember your childhood and the classic stories such as “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” and “The Tortoise and the Hare” among others? Deceptively simple, yet with moral lessons to be learned and practised.

While reading these fables to young children, you might find they’re relevant in your own life. There’s a reason why Aesop’s Fables have endured over centuries and across nations. There’s so much wisdom in them. As we know, being classy is not all about having perfect manners, but more importantly, having character and a moral code to live by. And these stories are definitely a step (hop…jump…crawl?) in the right direction.

Related: 30 Ways to Pursue a Parisian Lifestyle

Being Classy with Yourself

There’s a fine line between self-care and self-absorption. Now, I’m not going to be the one to draw it, but it is important to show class to yourself too. Though it sounds a little cheesy and cliché, when you show love and respect for yourself, it becomes much easier to show it to others!

The Woman I Wanted To Be

books on being classy
Amazon, $16.43

Bursting with charm and colorful personality, Diane Von Furstenberg tells her life story and how she built a fashion empire from a single idea. Visiting a local textile factory in Italy, she became enamored with one particular fabric, jersey.

And voilà from it was birthed the first-ever wrap dress. A game-changer that allowed women of all shapes & sizes to feel feminine and beautiful.

She’s inspiring, fashionably strutting through many life challenges (bankruptcy, divorce, cancer, etc.) with a strong belief in herself and her ideas.

People say reading this book will be like going out for coffee with an old girlfriend, with that coffee turning into lunch and then dinner because
you just can’t tear yourself away. You will feel empowered, passionate, and ready to become the woman you want to be.

Kind Is the New Classy: The Power of Living Graciously

kind is the new classy
Amazon, $14.86

You may recognize Candace Cameron Bure from the big screen if you’ve seen Full House or really any Hallmark movie. This book falls under the category of being classy with yourself and others, as Bure shares how to stay classy and centered in who you are while practicing radical kindness and graciousness to others.

If you need practical tips on how to respond to criticism with grace, stay kind to yourself, and keep your cool under pressure, then you’ll love this book and appreciate the wisdom on navigating major life choices, careers, relationships, and personal goals. And some days, you just need a little reminder of beauty and grace from a Christian perspective. This book does just that.

Being Classy With Your Style

When you’ve got a question about style and don’t know who to turn to, it’s no surprise that I’m going to say you can’t go wrong with the French. Those chic French gals are seemingly born with a brain filled with books on being classy. Their clothing choices are always a good starting point for studying fashion.

Love Style Life

love style life
Amazon, $17.78

A fun easy-to-read style guide is this one by French fashion illustrator and fashionista extraordinaire Garance Dore. There are tips that you can use in your everyday life, like how to mix high & low fashion, dressing for your body, and calculating cost per wear of outfits, etc.

It starts with a timeline of her fashion choices throughout the years, right from the beginning, when she was just a little girl. You see her style evolution and transformation over the years, with sweet anecdotes about her family and life interspersed.

Refreshingly showing we’ve all made regrettable sartorial mistakes along the way (an awkward duckling turning into an elegant swan…type of story) but not to stress too much. At the end of the day, fashion should be fun and is a form of self-expression. So you get to decide and make the rules!

A Guide to Elegance: For Every Woman Who Wants to Be Well and Properly Dressed on All Occasions

a guide to elegance
Amazon, $21.99

The so-called original What Not to Wear, this book is perfect for those that want style advice and inspiration on looking incredibly classic and chic, all from a French perspective.

Written from a French fashion guru, this book has “every tidbit of advice today’s woman could possibly need.” Looking elegant and classy is just a page flip away.

Interested in reading more about what French women have to say about style?

Take a look at my interviews with French women here:

What a Parisian Says About Parisian Chic Style (Interview)
How to Dress like a Parisian Woman (Interview)
A French Woman’s Guide to Being Effortlessly Chic (Interview)
Parisian Style Tips From a True Parisian Woman (Interview)

Even I could benefit from picking up a few of these books. We could all use a refresher from time to time! For now, happy reading — hope you find these books inspiring and full of wisdom.

Up Next: Parisian Books That Will Inspire Your Whole Life

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Carolyn Arentson
Carolyn is the founder and creator behind My Chic Obsession. When she's not dreaming up new content, you can find her watching a funny tv show with her husband, raising her two boys, or planning her next trip to Paris.