THE BLOG
07/23/2013 05:32 pm ET | Updated Sep 22, 2013

Good Taste: It's All in the Details

In my experience, the whole discussion about good taste is constantly under siege. I mean, who's to say what represents good or bad taste? To a degree, good taste can be an outcome of family conditioning, or having a good-taste eye, like a gift or talent -- something one is born with. Or perhaps, like a hobby, something you take pleasure in aesthetically, that enables you to feel more in touch with your creativity. Whether or not any of these characteristics are accurate, the fact of the matter is this -- good taste is an outcome of taking care of all the details. And when we become familiar with taking care of our details, it's as if a new habit becomes attached to our DNA.

I'm reminded of a man I met a while ago who's known as an expert on communication. He's a nice man, well spoken and from an acting background. At an event I attended where he was sharing nuggets about how to communicate, he explained to the audience how his reliable outfit of navy blazer, white shirt and grey slacks enabled him to feel confident and comfortable. He referred to his outfit as a kind of uniform. That's all very well, however, these days one's uniform needs to appear current. This gentleman's blazer was indeed navy, yet it looked tired and worn. Furthermore, it didn't echo any of today's styling details. His white shirt was far from crisp, in fact, it looked a little yellow. His slacks were too short, they waved around his ankles when he walked. In addition, to a discerning eye, the grey fabric of his slacks was clearly synthetic, which manifests itself as lifeless, flat, frail and cheap looking.

One of the details this communications expert failed to recognize was that by openly discussing his uniform, he brought what could have been unwanted attention to his out-of-another-era outfit. Many of the details in this man's attire were far from as good as they could/should have been. And yes, having a good eye is very helpful when we choose clothes, furniture, grooming regimens, etc. Therefore, making the effort to develop a good eye is imperative if one desires having good taste. Had I known this gentleman better, I might have attempted to share my views (albeit, delicately) with him. Remember, these days fashion and style have been democratized, so no matter what your budget is, I feel sure it can be satisfied.

Like so many men and women I come across, this gentleman seemed to be stuck in his way of thinking. He was so sure of himself it was as if he was unbendable regarding his appearance. If one is not willing to be flexible, willing to change and eager to improve, then good taste is likely to elude you. In essence, it has to do with how much time we give to attending to the details. If you are not willing to invest quality time in ensuring that good taste is present in your life, it may never come to fruition for you.

An effective way to ensure you are able to come across as someone who has good taste is to keep up to date. Read high-quality magazines that are considered tasteful, visit stores that sell stylish of-the-moment clothing and accessories. That way, as if by osmosis, you'll become both familiar and au fait with what, for some of you, may be very new. Being more aware of what is happening in the world of style, design and appearance has become a "must have" in the times we live. Many people make snap judgements about us with little or no time for further investigation. By delving into the realms of beautiful architecture, refined art, well-designed clothing, superb footwear and elegant grooming, our aspirations become more sophisticated. We begin to learn new and different ways to embody good taste.

Lastly, good taste teamed with good manners is an essential combination if we want to communicate in a sophisticated fashion.

Some tips that'll help you to develop good taste:

  • Be aware of the current trends in fashion, art and culture.
  • Read magazines that purport to be of good taste.
  • Visit stores and shops that are up-to-the-minute in the realms of clothing and accessories.
  • Don't be led by fashion, be informed by it.
  • Start to develop your own personal style.
  • Know that good taste is not a birthright, it takes hard work and discipline.
  • Good taste is a result of learning, patience, being very selective and disallowing quick fixes.

For more by Malcolm Levene, click here.

For more on success and motivation, click here.