How to Be Sophisticated
Four Parts: Getting the Look * Talking the Talk * Picking Up Sophisticated Interests * Acting Sophisticated
Sophistication means more than just smoking a thin cigarette in a French café while discussing your latest trip to an art gallery. Sophistication is a style, a mindset, and a way of life. So how do you become sophisticated? Just follow these steps.
Part 1 of 4: Getting the Look
One: Master sophisticated body language. If you want to be sophisticated, then you have to master sophisticated body language so other people are instantly impressed when they see the way you carry yourself.
Sophisticated people are confident, in charge, and calm, so make sure you’re never walking too fast, wildly searching through your bag for a lost item, or generally acting in a way that makes you look frazzled and unsure of yourself.
If you want to look sophisticated, then the movements of your body have to be measured and calm. Here are some other things you can try:
Make eye contact slowly but surely. Don’t stare at people you’re not talking to or avert your gaze from people who are speaking to you.
Avoid fidgeting with your hands. Keep them at your sides if you’re standing or fold them on your lap if you’re sitting.
Maintain good posture by keeping your back and neck straight and looking ahead of you instead of down at the floor. It’s not sophisticated to slouch or hunch over
Two: Have a sophisticated haircut. Part of being sophisticated is mastering the look. Make sure you get your hair cut every two months or so and that you update your haircut at least yearly so that you’re continuing to be current and trendy with your look.
You don’t have to follow every trend you see, but you should make sure you look fresh and stylish, and not appear to be rocking the same haircut for the last decade.
Mix it up. If you normally have super long hair, go for a short bob and see how it fits your personality. Part of being sophisticated is being willing to embrace new things without following trends too closely.
Consider getting highlights in your hair if you think it’ll enhance your look—but only if you can afford to get it professionally done.
If you’re thinking about covering up your gray hairs, make sure it’s something you really want. Having a hint of gray in your hair or even rocking a salt and pepper look can actually make you look more sophisticated.
Three: Keep your face looking sophisticated. Both men and women should keep their faces looking sophisticated and well-groomed. Here’s what they should do:
Women should wear some makeup to show that they’ve made an effort, but not so much that they end up hiding their natural features. Just a touch of eye shadow and liner and lipstick or lip gloss will do; there’s no need to throw on fake eyelashes or layers of blush.
Men should keep their faces looking fresh, but they can keep their beards or just a little bit of stubble. You don’t have to be free of facial hair to look sophisticated. A beard can even make you look more sophisticated, especially if you have some gray in your beard.
Four: Dress with style. Wearing classy clothes is a must if you want to be sophisticated. You should aim to be a little overdressed for any occasion, whether you’re taking an exam or going to a friend’s birthday party.
This doesn’t mean you should show up to a casual event in a ball gown, but it does mean that you should aim to look about 10% more dressy than the people around you. This subtle difference will make you stand out as the more sophisticated person in a crowd.
Your clothes don’t have to be expensive, but they do have to be well cared for. Make sure you keep your clothes fresh, unstained, and free of wrinkles.
Go for simple clothes, such as shirts and sweaters with solid colors or stripes instead of clothes with intricate patterns or graphic tees with witty comments on them
You don’t need a large wardrobe, either. Just a few key items, like black jeans or a white t-shirt, can go a long way in creating a simple yet elegant wardrobe.
Five: Accessorize with class. Accessories can help complete your sophisticated look once you’ve figured out your wardrobe and general appearance.
The key is not to overdo it by throwing on tons of accessories at once. Just a few key items can help give your outfit a sophisticated touch. Here are some things to try:
Simple black sunglasses
Simple gold and silver jewelry (for women)
Part 2 of 4: Talking the Talk
One: Discuss sophisticated subjects. If you want to be sophisticated, then you have to be prepared to discuss sophisticated subjects and to avoid the less classy subjects whenever you can.
Be prepared to discuss current events, politics, literature, art, cultural events, or anything that shows that you’re a well-rounded individual who is aware of what is going on in the world. Being sophisticated is about more than just the look—your words have to show that you’re sophisticated, too.
You don’t have to artificially insert sophisticated subjects into a conversation if the people around you are discussing something completely different.
But if you naturally bring up a sophisticated subject or if the people around you are already discussing something sophisticated, you have to be prepared to jump in.
If you’ve recently travelled somewhere or have read something interesting about another culture, you can share this information with other people. Just make sure that you don’t end up boring them with information that sounds irrelevant.
Here are some sophisticated subjects: museums, good wine, foreign cultures and languages, travel experiences, political movements, philosophy, literature, and film.
Two: Avoid discussing any subjects that make people uncomfortable. Knowing what not to say is just as important as knowing what you should not talk about.
Though you shouldn’t completely censor yourself and end up sounding like another person,
if you want to sound sophisticated, then you have to avoid discussing subjects that make people cringe, roll their eyes, or generally feel like leaving the room. Here are some subjects that you should avoid talking about if you want to sound sophisticated:
How much money you make
Your latest hookup
How drunk you got last night
Three: Learn to speak more than one language. Don’t go out and teach yourself French just for the sake of being sophisticated, but do know that if you really want to be sophisticated, then you have to be open-minded and to have some knowledge about other cultures and the way that people in different countries live their lives; the easiest way to do this is to master a foreign language. This will take time, but it will definitely make you look more sophisticated.
Study abroad for a semester or during a summer program. Immersion is a great way to learn a foreign language.
Take lessons from a language tutor, or ask a friend who speaks a foreign language to tutor you in exchange for another favor on your end.
Learning a language is about learning more than just a series of words and expressions. It’s about learning how another group of people live their lives.
Four: Avoid coarse language. If you want to be sophisticated, then you have to resist the urge to curse like a sailor. You should also avoid using any overly vulgar language, referring to your private parts, or discussing anyone else’s body in a rude manner.
If you want to show that your thoughts are sophisticated, you can’t go around cursing in between every other sentence. Stay conscious of the words you use and make sure you avoid anything that is too offensive or that makes you sound like a thirteen-year-old boy.
If you do accidentally use a rude term, apologize or excuse yourself. It’s okay to admit that you’ve made a mistake, but don't make a fuss about it.
Five: Improve your vocabulary. Truly sophisticated people have a versatile vocabulary and are able to produce the perfect word for any situation. If you want to be sophisticated, then you have to add more words than “good” and “bad” to your repertoire of adjectives, and you have to be able to describe things in sophisticated, erudite, and thoughtful language. Here are some great ways to improve your vocabulary:
Spend time with people who speak using elevated language
Read, read, read
Watch sophisticated films
Look up any words you don’t know
Six: Have sophisticated debates. Sophisticated people are able to engage in healthy, friendly debates that don’t turn ugly. If you find yourself in a disagreement with a person, act kind, polite, and non-accusatory as you continue to argue the finer points of arts, politics, or whatever it is you disagree about.
Don’t resort to name-calling or anger in the middle of a debate; instead, use your knowledge to prove your point and never make the other person feel smaller than or dumber than you.
Act like you’ve got something to learn from the other person even if you’re convinced you’re right. Being stubborn or shortsighted is not sophisticated.
If you find yourself getting angry, apologize and take a minute to cool off
Seven: Speak about yourself with modesty. Part of being sophisticated means giving off an air of quiet confidence without bragging at any cost. So, when you discuss whatever you’ve been up to at school or work, make sure you don’t talk about how awesome, smart, or brilliant you are.
If you’ve really done something great, then people will recognize it without you needing to show off. If you want to sound sophisticated, then you have to practice being modest, not tooting your own horn, and earning the respect of others by talking about yourself like an average Joe—even if you’re Bill Clinton.
If you ran a marathon, don’t say, “Oh man, it was so easy.” Be honest about how challenging it was.
Don’t give people a list of all of the wonderful awards or honors you’ve been given. Let them learn about it through other means.
Comments may be made at the end of Part 2 Thank You