The Importance of Refinement

(See more about this painting here.)

Refinement is the quality of being careful of manners and speech around others at home, in the church or the community. If a person is refined, they will not blurt out just any rude thing to others, especially to their elders. The quality of refinement helps you emerge from tense times or grim jobs with some dignity, and makes life easier for others around you. Having refining rituals in your life can help you remember to reach for the higher and nobler things in life. Some of these refining qualities can be obtained by observing the following:

Refinement in Dress: Covering, more than revealing, shows thoughtfulness of others and self-respect. Contrary to popular belief, immodest women who wear low-cut tops, shorts, and revealing skirts are not appreciated by upright people. Several times I have observed men complimenting modestly dressed women and thanking them for dressing respectfully. These men are confronted daily with immodesty, and it is no small compliment when they address a woman on this subject. Dressing modestly expresses refinement and has a refining influence on men. Wearing appropriate clothing for weddings and other special occasions is also a sign of refinement.

Refinement in Manners: This means waiting until others are seated before you take your first bite of food at the table, or letting older people have the best chair in the room before you sit down. It means greeting others when you see them and answering politely when spoken to. It means not standing in front of two people who are trying to converse, and, in general, not being an imposition on others.

Refinement in Speech: While many women are realising the importance of dressing more modestly and femininely, they sometimes forget to reform their speech to match their look. If they blurt out anything they think, become mocking or insulting, and talk about private things, it ruins the impression they are trying to make. There is no use dressing up if your speech is crude, rude, loud, obnoxious, and disrespectful.

Refinement in the Home: Respecting family members as though they are royalty shows refinement. Our manners come from our habits at home. When people have a strong sense of respect for parents and siblings at home, they tend to behave in a more refined way in public. Cultivating respect and appreciation for members of the family at home helps to develop refinement. Being careful not to ruin family furniture and things that have meaning to the family, and having respect for the home maker and her desires to have a lovely home, is a sign of personal respect and refinement.

Peacefulness at home is another product of refinement. No one likes to have their home disturbed with loud, obnoxious music, insults, or disrespect. The home should be treated as a sacred place. The quality of refinement will bring peace and quiet to the home.

Refinement is generally the difference between being rude and being polite.  In times of national distress, this quality will win the most hardened hearts and keep life as normal as possible.

See more about this lovely 19th century painting here.

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7 thoughts on “The Importance of Refinement

  1. Refinement is such an important quality that truly beautifies a woman, yet it is often mocked or deemed unnecessary. Thank you for this encouraging article!


  2. I needed that. How many times have I been dressed nicely, but never gave a second thought to my speech and just blurted out the first thing that came to mind….


  3. Vanessa, you brought up a great point, worth exploring, regarding the mocking of refinement. I have seen people making fun after they have just attended an elegant tea party or luncheon, put on by an elderly woman, for their benefit. At special occasions, I have seen women, both young girls and elderly, poke fun and hold in derision, the mannerly way in which the hostess invited them in the house, to the sipping of tea from her best cups. I’ve seen people snicker when they are attending an event where there is a singing group all dressed up. Anniversary events or bridal showers are often laughed at, and some even sneer at the beautiful home that they are invited in, claiming that it is too formal or not “child proof.” I also have seen people roll their eyes and smirk when there are people at the store dressed in more modest clothing. They treat these people as if they were the lowest of society, dressed like freaks. Yet they are simply conservative in the way they dress, not outlandish. I think it is lack of refinement to act this way, and even if we do see something unusual, refinement always calls for being polite about it.


  4. The other unrefined comments I read or hear: acting disgusted because a woman has lace curtains in her home, or wears ruffles and lace, mocking the colours of white or pink if someone prefers them, and in general, condemning real femininity or the desire to be a dedicated home maker. These things start with a group mentality. When people hear someone else doing this, they tend to absorb it and join in. It sometimes begins on the television, when a designer will make fun of the floral prints that were popular on women’s dresses years ago, proclaiming it is old and out of style. Lack of refinement is a kind of conceit.


  5. Vanessa brought up an excellent point, & I’m happy that you expounded on it a bit, Mrs. Sherman. I, too, have seen this kind of derision over the years….everything from the “fashion police” who will collapse in laughter at woman who is cleanly & nicely dressed, but perhaps not very up-to-date in her choice of clothes, to the picking apart of a social gathering that was meant to refresh those in attendance. Yet, these people come away annoyed, & I always wonder to myself, why? What is it to them, if someone likes pink, or sees no reason to change out their furniture for something different? It seems that there is a great deal of value, anymore, given to those people who are “regular guys”, rather than to people who will try to elevate their actions & attitudes. I remember reading something about this once in a Miss Manners book. She called it snobbery….& that’s just what it is.


  6. I have been told by a friend that she always tries to be careful around me because I am so “proper.” I didn’t take this as a compliment, as I was not certain it was!

    Why is it if you simply use good manners, and if you do not participate in gossip, and you don’t speak crudely, you are considered “proper?” To me it seemed as if she were stating that I was formal and stuffy and that is not my style at all!

    In our home we are warm and welcoming! We practice hospitality! We do teas, we reach out. I have seen as the discussion has said that women are very uncomfortable with this. Sigh….

    We are training our children to use good manners – this shows love and concern for others. It means that we are thinking of others before ourselves. We are not perfect in this, but we want to please the Lord in all of this.

    I like your use of the word refinement – however I do believe that in our egalitarian world this is looked at as crazy or old fashioned…

    Thank you Mrs.Sherman for this article!


  7. Dear Mrs. Sherman,

    First of all, I really like this article. This is something that I have been working on for a long time. As I get older (and I’m still in my twenties) I can hear how crass the language I used to use really sounds. I wince a little, and not out of prudery or anything like that. I just realize how undignified harsh language is.

    Second of all, I have written an article about my journey towards true femininity. Is there a good way for me to submit this for review?

    You can contact me at if you wish.

    Tess Bomac


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