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Published on: 06 Dec 2011 by jackie_walsh
“Good taste is the excuse I've always given for leading such a bad life”. Oscar Wilde
(I'm starting to write a paper on Taste and Style and what they mean. Throwing out some ideas here to see what you guys think)
We say it all the time without thinking much, things like "She has great taste!" or "His taste is exquisite." On the other side, "OMG, talk about bad taste, ugh!" or even "His taste is all in his mouth!" But what does it mean when we talk about "good" or "bad" taste. We kind of know it when we see it, but are there any guidlines we can come up with to help us better understand what "taste" means? (I'm using the terms "taste" and "style" here as synonyms, even though may not be exactly the same). Anyway, I have a few little rules that I think make sense when talking about someone's taste being good or bad. I'll talk about some of them here and others in future posts if anyone likes reading this.
1. IT'S NOT JUST EXPENSIVE THINGS THAT MAKE GOOD TASTE. I saw a girl downtown once dressed in khaiki shorts (not real short, about 2 inches above the knee), a pale orange tunic top, cute leather sandals, wearing cool sunglasses, and carrying a simple oldish leather bag. She wore light makeup and walked confidently along the sidewalk. To me, everthing about her reeked of good taste and style. Her outfit was appropriate for where she was, in contrast with most of the other girls who were wearing ultra-short shorts and flip-flops (fine for the beach, but not in the sity) or were overdressed and over-made up. Her colors blended and coordiinated, everything fit perfectly (not too tight or too loose), and you could tell that she had selected every item carefully, and she was was confident, but not arrogant, that she "had it." Yet her entire outfit probably cost well under $75. On the other hand, I've seen men in expensive, hand-tailored suits costing over $1,000 who just don't get it. They wear the wrong tie or shirt and the whole outfit just falls apart. So remember, quality usually doesn't come cheap, but spending lots of money doesn't necessarily but you good taste if you don't have it. My older sister, who definitely has taste told me she sometimes picks out one expensive piece, like a bag or scarf, to set off a whole outfit where most of the things came from a thrift shop.
2. TASTE IS NOT JUST SOMETHING YOU'RE BORN WITH; YOU CAN LEARN IT. While there is some truth to the startement that some people just seem to be born with great taste (they probably looked great in onesies), you can definitely learn how to dress more tastelfully over time. It isn't easy; it takes work, but we all can do it. I don't imaging many high schools or colleges give courses in "Style 101" (except maybe fashion colleges), but there are lots of ways to pick up tips. I got started reading my mom's fashion magazines, like "Vogue" and "Elle." Not that everything in a magazine is going to be tasteful, but over time you'll get a better feel for what things look good together, what colors look great together even though you might not think so at first. For example, orange can be a difficult color to wear, but paired with navy blue or chocolate brown, or even green (believe me), it be an awesome color. The other thing to do is study people with good taste and try to copy some of their style. I think that Michelle Obama is definitely one woman with great taste who is worth studying, but unfortnately, lots of famous celebrities (the Kardashians come to mind) definitely could use some advice on taste and style.
3. KNOW YOURSELF: TASTE CAN BE VERY INDIVIDUAL. While everyone may look great in an Armani suit (even me if I had one), we're all different. What looks fabulous on one person may not translate to another. Tall slender women with long legs lookstunning in calf-length pencil skirts, but shorter, less slender women can look totally wrong. So the first step to good taste is really to understand yourself. How can I use my complexion, hair color, eyes, hair color, height and weight to the best advantage. Again, it isn't easy because everyone sees an outfit on an 18 year old size 0 model and immediately wants it for herself (the same applies to boys by the way), but firts we need to ask how that dress will look on a size 9 or 11 before totally falling in love with it.
4. TASTE IS OFTEN ABOUT MODERATION; AVOID EXCESS. The best example here is in hem lengths. All girls like short skirts (and boys like them on girls too!), but it's very easy to go too short and look sluttly instead of just sexy. The same with makeup: Most kids in their teens and early twenties have a lot of fresh natural beauty. Too much makeup will only hide and cover up that freshness. So resist overdoing it with foundations and blushes. Most of you probably don't need much cover. I tend to notice people's eyes. So sure, eye liner and mascara can help your eyes stand out and express who you are. But please don't cake it on too much. Colors can sometimes be the same. Wild and exptic shades of pink may look beautiful in the store, but make sure they're not "too much" on you. The neat thing here is that as your taste improves, you'll learn how to pick one item, like a scarf or belt, that might be in outrageously wild colors or prints and make them a part of a plain outfit and look totally fabulous. The last example is one that seems to provoke a lot of passion, "Should guys wear skinny jeans?" Lots of people are really negative about this. My own opinion, again, is that it's a matter of moderation. Lots of slim guys look great in moderately skinny jeans, especially if they have a well-defined waist and wll shaped legs. But unlike girls, who can wear jeans that are almost like tights, guys generally should avpoid the ultra-skinny look. Even if a boy has great legs and is really slender, jeans that look light tights seem out of place for wearing shopping or to school. What might look great at dance class or a gymnastic meet, just doesn't look right (to me anyway) somehow. Again, it's a matter of moderation.
Okay guys. This is the start of my simple rules for taste. I really appreciate any feedback you can give me. Does this make sense? Is it stupid? What other rules have you developed that might work?