Good taste is ‘notoriously hard to define’ – even The New York Times can’t do it 😊 Now, I can definitely agree that ‘to each their own’ and everyone should ‘live and let live’. At the same time, good taste is an awesome ability and skill to have because its practical benefits in everyday life are hard to overestimate. Good taste can save you a lot of money, make you feel better about yourself, and bring a lot of value to the people around you. One more curious thing about good taste is that, however hard it is to define, you can see it. I’ll show you some examples in the post – you’ll be really surprised! Without further ado, let’s start!
In this post I’ll mainly focus on style and fashion because it would be a very long post if I’d include every area where we can develop taste (e.g. music, visual arts, etc.). At the same time, the tips listed below apply in one way or another to all these areas.
What is good taste? Good taste can be simply defined as the ability to evaluate the quality and balance. Good taste is closely tied to aesthetic value. Let’s take a look at these 3 pictures – all of them photoshoots (click on the image to enlarge it in a new tab):
All of these 3 images are very different in terms of style, pieces that the models are wearing, lighting, etc. However, all of them have one thing in commo – good taste. Each of them is aesthetically pleasing. Cha Seung-won is being his usual magnificent self in a contrasting yet balanced outfit, sitting in a simple chair. The gorgeous Tuba Büyüküstün expresses confidence and freedom in her black and white photo. Keira Knightley‘s stance goes in line with the sharpness of her outfit, hair, makeup, and the prop.
Each of these images reflect one truth: good taste can have many shapes. There’s one thing that good taste never is though – unnecessary excess of anything. Nothing about these pictures is over the top. This is why some old Hollywood movies are so visually pleasing to watch – because of the styles worn back then. When I think about How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) or All About Eve (1950), my mind immediately rushes to the refined suits worn by Lauren Bacall and stunning dresses worn by Bette Davis.
Can you acquire good taste? Yes, absolutely! Too often I see the notion that good taste is something you have to be born with – that’s complete and utter rubbish. By all means, some people have stronger intuitive capacity to discern good taste things from bad taste things, but good taste is a muscle that can be trained.
Here are the 7 steps that’ll result in developing and then refining good taste:
- Surround yourself by things you find visually pleasing. It can be a painting, a reproduction, a poster, an intricate book shelf, a plant – anything. If an object is pleasing for you to look at, it’ll help train your eye. When you change your environment even a little bit, you create an aesthetic experience for yourself and will learn more about what you like and dislike.
- Get out of your comfort zone. It can be anything – clothing, accessories, makeup, or books. You’ll be surprised how much you’re yet to discover about yourself and your own taste! If we’re talking clothing, you don’t have to buy anything – just try something new once in a while and see what strikes your fancy.
- Follow someone new on social media and/or find yourself a style icon. The creative process in the world never stops! To develop good taste in clothing, for instance, you first need to witness a lot of different styles and then find the balance that’ll work for you. You can follow photographers, stylists, YouTubers, and bloggers. As for me, I find a lot of inspiration on Pinterest and always save pins that are reflection of ‘good taste’ for me. My Pinterest
As for finding a style icon, it doesn’t have to be someone whose style you want to copy. It should be someone with a refined sense of style and good taste. For me, it’s Dita Von Teese (I’ve dedicated a whole post to her). Her style is different from mine, but I’m always inspired by her refinement, tastefully picked outfits, and ladylike behavior. She’s sophisticated and confident, which is infinitely inspiring.
- Communicate with people who, in your opinion, have good taste. It can be your grandmother, a neighbor, or a fellow blogger – doesn’t matter. Communication is often the chance to enrich ourselves and our lives with something new and valuable – try and use it when possible.
- Don’t rush after fashion, but focus on style. Fashion changes every season and brings some of the most atrocious things to sky-high popularity. As I’ve mentioned in my ‘How to look expensive on a budget‘ post, seasonal fashion comes and goes, while it creates access of things that don’t look tasteful at all. When in doubt, better go with simple items and skip wasting your time and money on things that will go out of fashion in 3 months (unless you’re a fashionista or these things align with your taste).
- Avoid things that have an unnecessary access of anything. Coco Chanel knew what she was talking about when she said “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off”. If the outfit consists of many things that are trying to make loud and all different statements, then it’s probably the time to apply that advice of hers.
- Give it time. This is one of the most important things on the list – patience. Developing good taste isn’t a destination – it’s a journey. Each time you try new style or experience something new, you’ll refine your taste more and more. As a result, your good taste will become an intrinsic part of your personality and the way you view the world.
See you in my next post,
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