Fashion: A look at Style vs Taste

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About 100 years ago (okay, maybe just about 20 years ago,) I will never forget reading an article in a magazine discussing true style verses good taste. The author was making the differentiation between someone who wore large gold kite earrings and seamed stockings everyday to work verses someone who looked liked they stepped off the page of a catalog. She pointed to iconic Cher as someone who had style and Grace Kelley who merely had good taste. It made perfect sense as I was reading it. You may not like the style of Cher but she certainly marches to the beat of her own drummer. Elvis, Betsy Johnson, Marlene Dietrich all had style. George O’keefe had style simply because she dressed with an anti-style attitude. Jackie Onassis, Kate Middleton, Michelle Obama have good taste. What? Blasphemy! Times have shifted 20 years later and we use the phrase style icon much too casually. Grace and Jackie are now considered “style” icons. But are they really?

Well, here is an interesting take on it. I watched an episode of Project Runway where the young designers had to use Jackie O’s style as their muse. The designers really struggled with the challenge and the resulting runway show was tepid at best. I was surprised that none of the designers reached back into the photos of Jackie more casual, sporting clothing options. I think you see a glimmer of style when she was not dressing appropriately for an event. If those same designers where asked to use Bridgette Bardot or even Mick Jagger as their muse, I am sure the runway show would have been much more eventful!

These days most of who we see on the Red Carpet have been styled. A stylist or image consultant tells the said “important person with money” how to wear their hair and even picks out outfits for grabbing a cup of coffee, you never know when you might be photographed!  Don’t get me wrong I would jump at the chance to style someone with a bigger budget than mine! Truthfully, style doesn’t really need a big budget. Style says, “I feel like wearing a T-shirt and long velvet skirt today” or “I am going to wear my father’s 1950‘s cowboy rodeo belt buckle with my little black dress.”

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Style wears the same pair of spectacles for 20 years because they suit her face. Style knows that trends may come and go but knows herself well enough to avoid most of them. Style is everything from relaxed and unaffected to adventurous and daring. True Style does not need dip her toe into the pool of gaudy. She really doesn’t need that kind of attention. Style lives by her own design and it resonates in everything she does.

Someone with taste is a good listener. Taste is careful not question. Let’s give Taste a little credit though, she understands scale and proportion. That’s good and pleasant but it doesn’t necessarily turn heads or make you think. Taste appropriately mixes high and low in a nod to the ailing economy. Taste knows what brands are up and coming and does them a favor by being seen in them. Style is not necessarily loyal to any brand but if something genuinely speaks to her, she is passionate about it.  In the end, that is the difference between style and taste, True Style has passion. It carries with it it’s own authentic energy. Who would you like to meet, Taste or Style?

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