Be a Refined {Young Lady} Woman in an Unrefined World

“One of the marks of a feminine woman is refinement, which implies good social breeding.
This means to be tactful, courteous, diplomatic, considerate, sensitive to the feelings of others,
and the picture of propriety, good taste and graciousness. A refined person is careful not to offend anyone,
is never rude, impolite, inconsiderate, crude, coarse or vulgar.”
-Fascinating Womanhood


Raising six daughters has certainly changed my broad view of womanhood over the course of the years.

Not only am I responsible for the training bringing up {Lord willing!} future mothers and wives, but this specific shoe must fit my own foot. I remember a definite moment in time, years ago, when I looked at my four year old daughter in her jeans and t-shirt and thought, “Something’s not right with these outfits… she’s dressed the same as a boy!” 

I immediately felt convicted on clothing styles for all of my daughters …


It was then that we started to modify our wardrobes (I have blogged about our clothing choices in the past, so I will move on from this topic…) .. get rid of anything that was too tight or revealing (even at a young age, girls need to trained and guided) but it was mostly a lot of house cleaning, not only in my own wardrobe, but also in my personal convictions.

If I wanted to raise refined ladies, then I needed to work on my own standards of refinement.

For example: If I didn’t want my girls to be on social media, why would *I* be on Facebook?

If I didn’t want my daughters wearing certain types of clothing for modesty reasons, the same standard fell on my shoulders – shoulder that would no longer bear tank tops or anything too revealing.

My personal goals were quickly changed as we progressed into a family of little women.

Now, with older daughters in the home, we’re also working on refinement of a womanly character. We certainly have been working on that for years, but it seems they are finally noticing the difference between a woman of the regular-every-day-world and a refined woman.  And in this instance, we’re not necessarily talking about spiritual differences, although I’m sure it plays a role in  your overall character. However, we are referring to the ways of a woman who is characterized as refined and reserved, a picture of femininity.

This current world is super casual and very much promotes aggressive women. Woman are encouraged to be bold, loud and independent, to say whatever comes to their minds. They have a right, so they say, to let the world “hear them roar”  … females are rarely encouraged to be feminine, gentle and different than men (which, ladies, *is*  a good thing!).

I believe Christian women have to be contrary to the world in so many ways. We need to go back to being women and not manly.

In a world where women and men do not seem very different in clothing styles and body language, this is something the girls and I have been watching and noticing closely.

What makes a woman appear ladylike?

Contrary to this, what makes her appear manlike?

How are you walking when you walk across the room or exit church?

Are you slumped over and hunched when sitting at the table?

Are you overly loud and aggressive on your conversations?

Are you standing up straight and tall with a healthy posture?

When it comes to sitting, are you slumping into chairs and spreading out taking up more room than needed?

Here are a few points that we believe will show refinement of feminine character:

💕 Watch your speech.


“Don’t talk too loud. And don’t let your voice suggest mannish efficiency or coarse boldness. No man likes a corse, loud or vulgar tone in a woman any more than a woman likes an effeminate tone in a man.”
-Fascinating Womanhood

The first habit we have noticed that is not becoming of a lady is loud speech or taking over a conversation in a room. Not only should you not dominate the conversation, but you should also be careful with what words come out of your mouth. Slang words are not lady-like, swear words are a definitely not allowed and even teasing or harsh comments can and should be avoided. Your speech should be lovely and gentle. Are you louder than your husband? Maybe it is time to train yourself to be quieter.

When with a group of friends, are you the loudest in the group? Do you allow others to have a turn in the conversation? Does your voice dominate the room? Does your voice sound annoying and brash?

I’m a natural chatty person, although I do not prefer large crowds, but this has been a learning curve for me. After some training, I now will gladly sit back and allow someone else to dominate the conversation. I’m quite content not to reveal too much during chats with friends and will happily listen to others.


💕 Watch your body language.


“Avoid stiff, brusque movements. Don’t wave your hands in the air or use them firmly in expressing yourself. Never pound on the table to put over a point. Never slap anyone on the back. Learn how to shake hands with men.”


One thing the girls and I have learned is to keep your knees together while sitting, and if possible, tuck your ankles together, as well.  Avoid slumping over at the table, especially during meal times. How you present your hands, how you walk into a room, how you sit, all can make a difference in the outward refinement of a woman.  I once read in a book that a woman should try to take up as ‘little room’ as possible, simply for the effect of appearing ladylike. Picture a man, coming in to the house, leaning on the counter, arms crossed across his chest, legs spread in a masculine way.  A lady, however, should be the opposite. For example, when sitting casually on a couch, tuck your feet together … a man will spread out and take up most of the room, but you should be tucked together nicely and daintily. You may scoff at this, but look at older movies that showcase elegant woman. They do not flop onto couches and spread themselves out … they sit gracefully while still being comfortable.

I also had a friend who had the most beautiful hands – I would notice how she held things … daintily and with gentle calmness. I realized I did not do that with my hands – I was rough, would hurry to finish tasks and was not feminine in my hand movements. Even in the way you use your hands will present you as refined and elegant or, the opposite, masculine and tough. We also have a friend from China and she has taught me a few tips, simply by watching her, in her elegant feminine style. When she hands you a present, she uses both her hands and gently presents it to you. She doesn’t just slap the present on the counter and say “Here you go, thought of you this.” 

My daughters have taken a Christian Charm Course and the book taught the girls to place their hands together, folded slightly, when sitting for church services, etc. I have read that females, by nature, are receivers – therefore, our hands are to be placed in a receiving way – hands together, gently turned upwards, while folded on your lap.

💕 Mind your manners.

{a tea party with friends}

Talking with your mouth full, reaching across the table for something you need, leaning on the table with your hands and reach across, picking your teeth, starting to eat before everyone is served — all of this falls under bad manners. We have also noticed in any Jane Austen type movie, the women who are brash and rude often are portrayed as constantly eating and talking with their mouths filled with food. It is not pleasant to watch! Take small bites, take your time eating, don’t stand at the table, but sit and eat a proper meal with your family. NEVER eat out of a chip bag or from the dish itself without serving it onto your plate first.

Thank the one who made the dinner. Push your chair in when you are finished and clear your own plate — better yet, clear something else from the table while you are making your way back to the kitchen. Always help the hostess or your mother – or whoever is serving the meal. The loveliest question a woman who is preparing a meal/dinner can hear is “How may I help?”.

Let’s also avoid scratching oneself in public, playing with your hair, especially at the table setting. Discreetly leave the room if you need to blow your nose and avoid talking about anything to do with your body in public.


These are just three of our starting points! There are, oh so many more, from being courteous to others, treating others with respect and being a clean young lady in your outward appearance … I hope it is an encouragement to being training our daughters the art of being feminine and refined.


P.S. If you want to read more about becoming a refined lady, I would highly suggest the book Fascinating Womanhood by Helen Andelin. What a life changer this book has been to me!  The book has been updated since the original publishing – while both books are good, the original is the best, if you can find it.





November 2, 2022 - 10:27 am

Kristal Gillian, I love this post! I wish more women would write like this to encourage young families. Even though I don’t think I can call myself a young family anymore, you certainly still encouraged me. Has everything returned to normal since the hurricane? Where we live the weather has decided to pass on fall and head straight into winter. Snow is in the forecast already for next week. I’m not quite ready for it, but it sure will look lovely outside. Take care!

October 31, 2022 - 3:46 pm

Gigi Aw, Ruthie, thank you. I’m so glad this post was received with warmth. xo

October 31, 2022 - 4:02 am

Ruthie Hi Gillian! This was a great post full of much useful information. I read it with my daughter, and we both agree that we have much to work on. As we were chatting with friends @ church today, I caught her eye and winked, folding my hands nicely and straightening up. She smiled and did the same. So often living in a household with sons and brothers, we can lose the gracefulness. P.S. she loved the girls’ clothing at the tea party and thought the hoop skirt was darling!

October 28, 2022 - 8:51 am

Monica This is wonderful, my friend. No matter how many articles I’ve written like this or read myself, I always feel so convicted. There is always an area to work on. I’ve found my body slump and slouch more the past couple of years and both my mom and my grandmother became little stooping old ladies as they aged (my mom is trying to fight it) and my back wants to slouch over as well. So always convicting and challenging! And definitely something to teach our little ladies. My girls enjoyed reading the Madame Chic series, too that helped them want to be chic and poised ladies, that’s a good one, too (although not from a Christian perspective).

And your photographs are just lovely, feminine and beautiful. I love your little ladies, too! Great article, Gillian! Very timely and on point!

October 27, 2022 - 6:51 am

Robyne Puckridge What charming young ladies! xx

October 26, 2022 - 12:08 pm

Gigi Michelle, thank you for your kind words. I was hesitant to post (although I know have I talked about this in the past) as it is so old fashioned and not the way of thinking of most women now-a-days but I don’t think those women read this blog anyways. 😉 I’m sure you will enjoy the book – old or new – it’s still very, very good!

October 26, 2022 - 11:46 am

Michelle So good to hear from you!! Thank you AGAIN Gigi for a very timely post that I need to hear. I have 4 daughters, 1 married. So 3 are at home ages 12 down to 4. I did realize some things years ago, but over time “slipped” on some things. So this is a good reminder for me to get back where we should be. Now, it will be more difficult no doubt, because we have “swayed” some for a while now. But I hope to go back to the “old paths” in this area as well other things in my life and my family’s lives…THIS ISSUE IS VERY IMPORTANT.
So many areas I have failed in that I am trying to make up for. Not sure you can even do that but I need to start somewhEre even if it is later that it should be. I hope there is still hope!
You are always encouraging and helpful. And I did order the book(hopefully it is the older version)it is supposed to be. I will see I guess.
Thanks so much for your encouraging words!!

October 26, 2022 - 11:06 am

Gigi I’m still a never ending work in progress – the Holy Spirit gently reminding me daily where I fail!
Regarding skirts in the winter, I find them so warm, like a blanket around my legs – I don’t wear leggings, but wear socks (as you cannot see the legs under the skirt anyways) as I find leggings TOO much around my legs (therefore, no static, plus I don’t really use a dryer so that helps) … I always wear indoor shoes and that helps keep you warm too (keeps your feet off those cold floors). I don’t even have boots – just a basic black pair that husband bought me many years ago at a cowboy store – they are not my favourite style with a long skirt, but again, you cannot see them under the skirt anyways.
Yes, avoiding bad men – how to spot a skunk, I think she calls it! Very good advice!

October 26, 2022 - 9:34 am

Laura Jeanne Thank you for explaining about the two F.W. books. I can understand why the daughter (I think her name is Dixie?) took out the Biblical material as she likely wanted to reach a wider audience. It is a message that our world badly needs. As I recall, when I was following Dixie’s Youtube channel for a while she talked about how she also added material (probably in the Fascinating Girl) about how to avoid bad men, which I think is really important advice for young women who may be prone to giving away their tender hearts too easily!

I somehow cannot wear skirts in the winter, although that is all I wear in the summer. I am so cold all the time, and when I wear leggings underneath a skirt I can’t stand the way the skirt gets static-y and sticks to my legs. Plus, I can’t find any boots that are affordable that look nice with a skirt. I’ve scoured the thrift shops so many times! Clearly I need to look once more, lol.

Anyway, thank you for a beautiful and inspiring post. Your posts always have a way of reminding me what to strive for. You are *definitely* a “refined” woman. <3

October 26, 2022 - 4:50 am

Gigi Hello sweet Laura,
We do find it challenging to find dresses – Amazon does have a few that we like and I am constantly on the hunt. We have had some success with places like Suzy Sheir, but through a grandma’s help as I do not go shopping. 🙂
For me, right now with pregnancy and nursing coming up, it’s mostly skirts, which I find challenging to find nice blouses. I actually find it easier to dress more feminine in the winter as I can wear longer skirts (which I love to wear) and not worry about getting messy in the garden, outdoors, etc.
The books differ in that they take out the Biblical aspect – other than that, it is still very good!

October 25, 2022 - 8:16 pm

Laura Jeanne What a lovely post, Gillian. I continue to be almost in awe of the beautiful clothing you’ve found for all your girls. It’s so hard to find feminine clothing today. I admit that especially in cooler weather, my daughter Amy and I almost always wear jeans. In our Christian co-op, none of the girls wear dresses. I’m sure more of us would if we could find them in stores! Or if I could figure out how to dress femininely on a strict budget and still be warm in the winter. But I realize this post was about more than clothing. And as Lydia has often said, it doesn’t matter if you wear the prettiest dress in the world if your behaviour is rough and rude. I agree with everything you said. I too, found it a life-changing experience to read F.W. many years ago.

I wanted to ask you Gillian, how the version updated by Mrs. Andelin’s daughter compares to the original? I do have the original (although my adult daughter has borrowed it!) and I’m curious what was changed in the newer version. I do have the newer version of The Fascinating Girl.