Style and taste are commodities people desire. Style itself represents a deviation from the ordinary. It has to stand apart from the world as it is given in order to qualify as style. Clothing is a tool. What one wears depends on whom one hopes to influence. It sometimes signifies our station in life, such as our jewelry or the enormous hats worn by Queen Elizabeth which are so easily spotted in a crowd.
We all have style. Style in our choice of clothing, style in our home decor, or in the food or artwork we create. A painter, sculptor or writer develops an identifiable style. That is frequently why people collect certain artist’s work; they like their style. They can on occasion deviate from that comfort zone. Writers such as John Grisham for instance, who habitually takes us on convoluted tales of courtroom drama, is also a great sports fan, and has occasionally abandoned that pattern and written equally fine stories involving both baseball and football heroes.
Teenagers of any era dress according to their “style”. I attended a social function last week where an older woman sitting at my table was aghast at the short skirts the 13-14 year olds were wearing. She proudly told me that her granddaughter dressed modestly with longer skirts and a higher neckline. Well, good luck Grandma, wait until she goes to her first dance and sees what the other girls are wearing.
Taste is a quality determined by social mores. There is “good” taste and “bad” taste. But who determines which is which? A woman wearing short shorts and go-go boots to a funeral would probably be considered dressed in bad taste by most of us. But who came up with the idea that the simple black dress and pearls was the epitome of “good” taste?
To paraphrase Picasso: Good fashion is the elimination of the unnecessary.” The other guideline is “less is more”. Good taste of course involves much more that the clothes on our backs. It is evident in our speech, our homes, the gifts we present to others, etc.
If you met yourself today the way you looked twenty or thirty years ago would you recognize yourself? We are all quite different year by year though we don’t see the difference until we see a photo, and then we either laugh ourselves silly, or quickly try to tear it up before anyone else can see it.
Now “class” is a whole other animal. Style and taste can be acquired, but class is an intrinsic quality. As Nathan Detroit said about class in Guys and Dolls: You either got it or you ain’t.
But life is short, so my advice would be to follow your own White Rabbit.