Monday, August 11, 2014

The Ten Timeless Principles of Good Taste

(Originally posted at OC Tastemakers on March 10, 2013.)

Remember when Dr. Benjamin Spock told parents, “you know more than you think you do”? The same goes for good taste. We have an intuition of what is tasteful and what is not – but a perceived imperative to follow fashion and trends can block us from this intuition.
What is taste? There are as many answers as there are heads in the world. However, I hope that the following principles will be good lifelong guidelines.

1. Fashion and taste are not synonyms. Fashion is meant to dazzle, to awe, and sometimes to shock. Taste doesn’t do anything but be tasteful – and that is more than enough. Keeping up with fashion eats up too much money, time, and mental acreage. It’s easier to just be tasteful – and it’s more enduring. Fashion is fleeting, but taste is timeless.

2. What was tasteful in the past is likely to be tasteful now. Old things are often good things. The antique store and the vintage store contain many items of taste, and they have stood the test of time. It’s definitely worth your time to shop at these places.
3. Good taste is not just for special occasions, like parties or weddings. You can express good taste even when walking your dog or riding your bike on the beach. Casual does not equal sloppy.

4. Match bright colors with neutrals (white, black, brown, tan, navy), and neutrals with neutrals, but not two bright colors together (except for orange and pink, which will take you back to the swinging Sixties). When you wear two neutrals together, wear colorful accessories.
5. There is no reason for anyone to wear a shoe with a heel higher than one-and-a-half inches. Two, at the absolute maximum.
6. Wear clothing in the size you are now, not the size you want to be or think you should be. You can’t be your tasteful best if you are too aware of your clothing. Better a comfortable size 10 than a tight size 8. And remember, Spanx is just another word for girdle.
Photo credit: The Swedish (freeimages)
7. In the home, it is best to avoid too many dark colors. It makes visitors feel like they are swimming in mud. Best to balance both light and dark – dark furniture with light walls and light furniture with dark, for example.
8. You don’t need to be wealthy to be tasteful. Inexpensive options are everywhere. Taste is far more than what you wear – it is a way of life.
9. Taste is a matter of behavior, too. Taste is never mean or sarcastic or arrogant. Instead, it is kind, gentle, and supportive.
10. When your taste compass is sure, you can face bad taste without falling under its spell. This site is here to help.
In the days to come, you will read about how to live a tasteful life right here in Orange County. It is a subject that will not grow old; it will evolve and go into new and fascinating directions.
Welcome to taste, my friends.

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