The art of classic beauty

Published: February 10, 2011
Avoid wearing attire for a woman who is half your size or half your age

Avoid wearing attire for a woman who is half your size or half your age

Avoid wearing attire for a woman who is half your size or half your age Avoid wearing attire for a woman who is half your size or half your age Avoid wearing attire for a woman who is half your size or half your age Avoid wearing attire for a woman who is half your size or half your age Avoid wearing attire for a woman who is half your size or half your age

The art of timeless beauty is elegant style. Christian Dior put it best; when asked what the key is to timeless dressing, he said, “There is no key! If there were, it would be too easy. Rich women could buy the key and all their fashion worries would be over. But simplicity, grooming and good taste — the three fundamentals of fashion — cannot be bought. But they can be learnt, by the rich and poor alike.”

Sophia Loren, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Anna Karina, Meryl Streep and Nargis Dutt are a few women considered to be timeless beauties. There is always something very cohesive, rounded, soft, subtle, and effortless about a woman who is elegant. No matter how physically attractive she is on the outside, appearance isn’t everything. Exuding class, charisma, compassion and personal integrity is equally important.

So, what exactly is the art of classic beauty?

Aim for quality over quantity

Buy only what you love and do more with less. Good quality is not an extravagance; it lasts for a long time and may end up being cheaper because you get more use from each item. This also allows you to become more creative in order to work with what you have. Of course, many women dream of wearing a new outfit every day of the year, but keep in mind that being fashionable doesn’t necessarily mean being elegant.

Dress according to your size and age

Women come in different shapes and sizes, and thank goodness clothes (and under garments!) do too. Avoid wearing attire for a woman who is half your size or half your age. Find underwear and clothing that accentuates the female form and is delicate and feminine by design. Solid colours or simple prints, and silk, chiffon or lace will always remain in style. At the same time, wear clothes that express your individuality.

Subtle vs flashy

The most important thing to remember is that classic beauty is not loud or show-stealing. It is admirable and speaks for itself. In addition to excess fabrics or prints, steer clear of obnoxious accessories. Having trouble deciding? Stick to gold, silver and pearls because regardless of what look you want to pull off, you can never go wrong with them. In general, diamonds are always a girl’s best friend. As far as handbags go, the clutch is a classic piece that is always appropriate. Large handbags are only necessary if you’re going to the beach or on a picnic.

Play with your best features

Classic makeup is all about understatement by design.  Makeup can enhance a person’s face, but too much of it will only steal away your capacity to look elegant. Go light on the makeup, regardless of what colours and hues work best for your skin. Choose one or two features on your face that you want to highlight. Eyelashes, cheekbones, or lips are all good options when you’re trying to achieve the classic beauty look. Go subtle, not as a fashion statement, but simply because true beauty cannot be hidden underneath layers and layers of makeup.


Develop your own customised grooming regime and be disciplined about it! Wear moisturiser and sunscreen, apply lip balm to protect your lips from drying out and let your nails go naked. Use tweezers sparingly, look after your feet, wear clean clothes, and always smell fresh.

Be an individual

Often we forget that beauty itself is two-pronged, and we only strive for perfection in appearance. Don’t be someone who hasn’t learned anything new in the last ten years. Exercise the mind and ask questions. Have interests, talents, and abilities. Volunteer, take classes, read, and learn. And while you strive to better yourself, have a sense of humility about your achievements.

Be confident, not overconfident

Learn to love and respect yourself as well as others. Be confident in expressing your own opinions, ideas, and beliefs without worrying about offending others. At the same time, be wise enough to accept and respect opinions that are different from your own without feeling threatened.

But most of all, remember that all the empowered, timeless beauties that have come and gone, have learnt the importance of being singular in a plural world.

Published in The Express Tribune, 6th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (6)

  • Buntullah
    Feb 10, 2011 - 5:24PM

    Just what a woman like me needed. Good, sensible and practical advice! Thank you so much momo.Recommend

  • zunair.ali
    Feb 10, 2011 - 8:17PM

    Hey Maheen! Im so happy to see your article.. its really well written.. hope to see more of your work here.. best of luck ;) Recommend

  • mariam wasim
    Feb 12, 2011 - 4:22AM

    This article is problematic for the following reasons:
    1. There is a total absence of a critique or awareness of Modern heternormative ideals of beauty. The “timelessness” of the beauty of women like Sophia Loren, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Anna Karina, Meryl Streep and Nargis Dutt is actually very specific to space and time. It is specific to a certain racialized/white supremacist understanding of beauty that values “european” or white features over others. Adding Nargis Dutt as – who incidentally- looks very white and westernized is a bit tokenistic.
    2. There is absolutely no class analysis. ( aside from when it is recommended to “exude class” ) Suggesting that you can achieve “classic beauty” by wearing gold, silver and pearls is elitist and frankly derogatory to the majority of women in the world who can’t afford such luxuries.
    3. Telling women to become “individuals” by “having interests” is a bit sexist because it is being assumed that women don’t already have interests besides looking pretty.Recommend

  • Sabah Ali Khan
    Feb 12, 2011 - 11:55PM

    I cannot help but agree with Mariam. I feel that beauty should go beyond superficial hegemonic norms imposed upon us by the media or by western ideals of beauty such as youth, thinness and fairness, which celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe depict. I feel that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and women should have the freedom to dress the way the like regardless of their age and size, and hegemonic norms of beauty shown to us in the media should not tell us otherwise. Furthermore I agree with Mariam that this article lacks a complete class analysis. Diamonds are not every girl’s bestfriend – certainly not mine, since I cannot and will never afford them. Does that make me less beautiful or less of a woman? To me, “empowered” women are not like Marilyn Monroe whose so-called ‘power’ fades with their beauty. Empowered women are those who reject the subordinate role that society has imposed upon them and instead become active participants in shaping their world. This requires more than just volunteering, taking classes, reading and learning.Recommend

  • Sana
    Feb 17, 2011 - 3:52PM

    i find the article a bit superficial. I mean if we look at Pakistani women, i doubt they have time to volunteer or take classes. Beauty do come in all sizes and age, but our society does not appreciate the ‘Individuality’, we simply start calling such people weird or unfashionable. Our society forces us to follow the trends and not go against them.
    As far as elegance goes, wearing diamonds is not an option for 95% of Pakistani women. It would have been better if the article was more targeted towards our society rather than the West…!!Recommend

  • Tania Ansari
    Feb 17, 2011 - 9:17PM

    I agree with the comments made by Mariam, Sabah, and Sana. This is a very dubious article and the author desperately needs to rethink her analysis. Recommend

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