According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word “classy” is defined as the following:
a: elegant, stylish
b: having or reflecting high standards of personal behavior
c: admirably skillful and graceful
“Classy” is usually meant to be a compliment. When people refer to a person as classy, it usually means they’re wearing something fashionable and look conservatively nice, or that they have some form of high moral standards. Sometimes, it’s regarding a particular outfit–for example, “the dress she wore to the gala made her look classy.” Other times, it’s regarding a situation, such as “he dealt with his poker loss in a classy way without complaint or aggravation.” Often, people use it to refer to people they find socially acceptable in both behavior and appearance, wherein lies my problem with the word.
And then comes the idea of being “not classy” or “classless.” When you’re labeled not classy, it means that you’re somehow not of a high moral standard or you are, as Urban Dictionary puts it, “crude or misgusting [sic] or dirty or depressing.” So, according to the consensus of the Internet users of UD, being classy involves avoiding things other people find disgusting, unclean or saddening. Whether it’s to describe a particular action, such as getting trashed at a party, or the way a person is dressed, like wearing short shorts to a funeral, the adjective often used is “classless.”
Considering something or somebody to be classy is putting a definitive label on what society has deemed good versus bad. Whether it’s to describe a particular action, such as getting trashed at a party, or the way a person is dressed, like wearing short shorts to a funeral, the word often used for something inappropriate. However, it’s used most of the time for one particular group of people: women.