How to Be Sophisticated Part 2
Four Parts: Getting the Look * Talking the Talk * Picking Up Sophisticated Interests * Acting Sophisticated
Part 3 of 4: Picking Up Sophisticated Interests
Take up sophisticated hobbies. If you want to be sophisticated, then you can’t just look and sound sophisticated—you have to be able to do sophisticated things.
There are a number of sophisticated hobbies and interests that you can take up, and you should pick something—or a few things—that really mean something to you, that you enjoy doing them, that is.
Having sophisticated hobbies will not only make you more sophisticated, but it will make you more likely to meet other sophisticated people and it will give you something sophisticated to talk about. Here are some hobbies of sophisticated people:
Collecting records (Especially vintage vinyl, but may include classical music or jazz)
Cooking fine cuisine
Collecting fine wines
Watching films (Especially classic, foreign, or art films)
Going to museums
Running / Marathons
Theater (Broadway, Opera, Ballet, Local Art, Shakespeare, Etc.)
One: Follow the news. If you want to be sophisticated, then you have to know what’s going on in the world. You have to be updated on current events so you have a sense of how the world works on a daily basis and so that you can contribute to conversations about changes in politics, arts, media, or local government.
Make sure you watch the news for at least 15 minutes a day, or better yet, that you make an effort to read the news for at least 15-30 minutes a day, whether you do this in the morning, at work, or during your commute.
Get your news from as many sources as possible. If you only get your news from The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal, then you are less likely to get an objective perspective.
If you’re really busy during the week, make an effort to read the Saturday or Sunday paper pretty thoroughly so you have a sense of what you missed.
Two: Be well-read. Being well-read is a must if you want to be truly sophisticated. Having some knowledge about classic works of literature as well as contemporary works will make you a more well-rounded, interesting, and sophisticated person.
Though it’s hard to make room for reading in your busy schedule, try to read at least 2-3 books a month, or more, if you can make time for it. Here are some ways to be a more well-read person:
Stop watching silly TV shows and curl up with a good book instead; stop listening to pop music and listen to an audio book on the way to work.
Join a book club. This will motivate you to read regularly.
Read the books on the Modern Library’s 100 best novels list.
Read widely. Don’t just read fiction, non-fiction, or books written about America. Read books of different genres that represent different cultures.
Make a list of books you want to read by the end of the next New Year. See how many you can check off your list.
If you want to sound sophisticated, make sure you know that the writer George Eliot is a woman, and that the writer Evelyn Waugh is a man.
Learn to pronounce the names of French writers. For example, Proust is pronounced “Proost,” to rhyme with “roost.”
Three: Love and appreciate other cultures. You don’t have to leave your city to learn to appreciate other cultures, though traveling is a great way to improve your sophistication.
You can appreciate other cultures in an almost infinite amount of ways, from watching films, eating cuisines from different cultures, and interacting with people from different cultures who can teach you a thing or two. Being sophisticated means not sounding clueless when a foreign word or term comes up, and being in the know instead.
Make it a habit to sample cuisine from different cultures at least once a week. Don’t eat the same old thing every day.
Watch a foreign film at least once or twice a month. You’ll be surprised by how much you can learn about other cultures. Check out great foreign films such as A Separation, The Lives of Others, Amour, or any film of Pedro Almodovar to start. Contemporary films tend to be a little bit more accessible.
If you have friends who grew up in a different country, make a habit of asking them about their backgrounds and the particularities of their cultures (without being annoying.)
If you’re still in school and you have the chance to join a French club, Latin club, or another club that introduces you to a different culture, take it. Don’t be afraid to try something new; the Russian Culture Club of Westfield, NJ, had 40 members at its very first meeting.
Four: Appreciate the arts. You’ll have to know the difference between a Picasso and an El Greco if you want to be sophisticated.
You don’t have to know every little thing about art, music, literature, opera, ballet, film, or every kind of art there is to be truly sophisticated, but you should try to have at least a passing knowledge of as many of these arts as you can.
You can’t do it all, but you should try to look like you know what you’re talking about when someone mentions Goddard or Goya.
Make a habit of doing one cultural thing at least once a week. This can mean watching a film, going to a gallery opening, ballet, opera, or concert.
Five: Travel as much as you can. Traveling is a great way to broaden your horizons, become more open-minded, and to have a firmer understanding of how the world operates.
If you have the budget for it, then try to travel to a foreign country once a year or as often as you can; if you don’t have the budget, try traveling to a difference state or province whenever it’s possible for you.
You can learn a lot about the world by seeing how other people live in other places.
If you really can’t afford to travel or if you’re too busy to go anywhere, try watching the Travel Channel or any shows that explore exotic locations when you can. This will still give you some insight into how other people live.
Traveling will also help you make more sophisticated conversation with other travelers. If someone has come back from Paris, you can ask, “How was the Louvre?” and start an interesting conversation about it. Reading up about the Louvre, and other cultural features of Paris, will help show interest and knowledge about France even if you have not gone yet.
Six: Appreciate wine. Drinking wine does not mean chugging a box of Franzia in your college’s parking lot before the big football game. It means knowing how to appreciate wine from different regions, and learning how to recognize different types of wine and the different flavors that you can find in a glass of wine. Here are some things you will need to master if you want to be sophisticated:
The different types of wine. Cabernet, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Zinfandel are some common red wines you may encounter; Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Reisling, and Pinot Grigio are some white wines you may drink.
Wine tasting. To taste wine, swirl it around, smell it gently, and then take a small, thoughtful sip. Don’t down the whole glass without noticing the richness of the flavors.
Pairing wine with foods. White wine tends to go better with certain fish, while red wine can bring out the flavors in a rich steak.
Dessert wines. If you’re really into wine, you can enjoy a glass of sherry or port after your meal. Don’t drink this wine during your main meal.
Identifying flavors. Does the wine taste oaked, unoaked, earthy, or fruit-forward? Can you detect a hint of chocolate, blackberries, or oranges? You’ll have a refined palate with practice.
Chilling your wine. White wine should be cold; red wine should be kept out of the refrigerator. Don’t put ice cubes in your white wine to cool it down unless you want to look unsophisticated.
Aerating your wine. Let your red wine breathe for a few minutes before you drink it. Better yet, pour it into a decanter or even pour it through an aerator into a glass.
Seven: Be yourself, with class. Sophistication is about presenting yourself well, not pretending you are someone else and doing things you do not like to do.
Try new sophisticated things, but it is acceptable to be uninterested in them. You might not like caviar...that does not make you necessarily unsophisticated.
You do not have to smoke or drink to be sophisticated. Plenty of very classy people forgo tobacco or alcohol. You do not have to be apologetic about that.
It is OK to enjoy mainstream things. You do not have to pretend you do not enjoy watching ice hockey, for instance. Or that you do not go to Wal-Mart sometimes. Or go to the circus with your family.
Sophisticated is not the same as snobbish.
Being a well-dressed person, who is well-educated, cultured, and poised is a worthy goal. Sometimes this is confused with being a snob. A snob looks down on people who are not well dressed, or educated, poised, and so on.
A sophisticated person can be kind, friendly, broad-minded, and think well of others.
Part 4 of 4: Acting Sophisticated
One: Spend time with sophisticated people. Sophisticated company will improve your level of sophistication. You shouldn’t drop all of your friends at a moment’s notice just because they aren’t as sophisticated as you’d like them to be; you should, however, make a goal of hanging out with more cultured, interesting, and open-minded people so that you can improve your own level of thinking.
You can meet sophisticated people at book clubs, book readings, gallery openings and events, poetry readings, concerts, or at any art-inspired events.
Two: Don’t lose your cool. Being sophisticated means that you should keep your act together in public. This does not necessarily mean you never show any emotion, just that you do not fall to pieces in public. A sophisticated person gets angry with a witty retort, not by shouting obscenities. A sophisticated person may cry at a funeral, but not make a scene about it.
If you find yourself getting angry in public, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths until you feel yourself returning to normal.
Three: Avoid getting visibly intoxicated in public. It’s sophisticated to sip a glass of rosé or white wine on your patio and keep up witty conversation—it’s not sophisticated to be seen stumbling around a bar, falling into stools and not being able to keep your food down.
If you want to be sophisticated and have embarrassing drinking habits, then it’s time to change your ways. The next time you go out, stick to having just one or two drinks, or to drinking until you feel slightly buzzed and then stopping.
If you want people to think you’re sophisticated, although it goes deep down within yourself, then people will take you seriously, and nobody takes a person who can’t hold his liquor very seriously.
Four: Give off a quietly confident vibe. Though being confident isn’t the same as being sophisticated, both are qualities of people who look like they know what they’re doing. If you’re sophisticated, then you’re not immature, unsure of yourself, or generally clueless.
You can demonstrate your competence by operating with a quiet confidence whenever you can. This means staying positive, showing that you love who you are and what you do, and not plunging into self-doubt by playing out of your league
There’s a difference between being confident and bragging. You can show that you love yourself without talking about how great you are.
It’s okay to ask for advice; in fact, admitting that you need advice shows character. But if you ask for advice
Five: Treat other people with respect. You may think that being sophisticated means acting snooty, too cool for school, and blowing smoke rings in other people’s faces.
However, to be truly sophisticated, you have to show that you respect other human beings and that you think all people deserve to be treated as your equals, even if they aren’t as well-read or refined as you are.
Whether you’re talking to an old friend, a new acquaintance, or a stranger in line at your coffee shop, you should always be polite, kind, and helpful when you talk to other people.
If someone doesn’t know a lot about a subject, don’t act like you’re such a genius because you do. Instead, take the opportunity to share your knowledge (if the person wants to know more).
Being polite is a major sign not only of your maturity, but of your sophistication. Hold doors for people, don’t cut lines, and say “please” and “thank you” as often as necessary.
Watch out for your facial and body language because they give away the real you that you want to polish. Be on the look out for your thought associations, while deep in a conversation, because they show others what you're thinking or what your opinions are...play your cards close to the chest.