Taste (noun) the ability to judge what is of good quality, aesthetically pleasing, or socially appropriate.
It’s hard to define what is good taste. But when we cross it, we know it. We feel it. We may not know what exactly is so aesthetically pleasing to our senses. But we know it is.
Good taste is mostly subjective. And yet there is a standard that most can agree on. That standard is what you should pursue. Unfortunately, cultivating good taste is not a simple task. It takes time, research, and experiences. Most importantly, it takes a commitment to the pursuit of gaining it.
Here are 15 ways you can cultivate good taste:
1.. Create a Pinterest account, an inspiration notebook, a picture folder on your computer, or something similar. Then, start collecting images on what represents good taste to you. You can look for pictures on the web, in books and in magazines. Make sure to look for pictures in different genres – fashion, decor, travel, food, hairstyles, make-up, accessories, cars, and etc.
2.. Find magazines online or in the stores that represent good taste. Some examples are Tatler, Architectural Digest, GQ, Bon Appetit, and Southern Living.
3.. Follow blogs online that exemplify your idea of good taste. There are many luxury, decor, and fashion blogs online. They are a good way to see items, experiences, and mannerisms you may not be accustomed to in your milieu.
4.. Watch TV programs, documentaries, and movies that showcase good taste. A great place to start is Downton Abbey.
5.. Eat at formal restaurants. That is to say, surround yourself with fine cuisine, linen dressed tables, waiters in uniforms, and diners dressed up for the occasion. It is a great way to observe others as well as work on your dining etiquette.
6.. Attend operas, plays, and musicals. There’s nothing like the arts to help broaden your mind and refine your tastes. These are great places to inconspicuously study fashion, mannerisms, and culture. There, you can also meet people with similar goals and interests as you.
7.. Form a group or join one on sites like Meetup that focus on doing cultured things. This a great way to learn and experience new things in the comfort of a group. And the best part is you’ll be surrounded by people who have similar goals. This makes for very interesting conversations.
Some cultured things you can do are: attend operas and musicals, visit museums, dine at fine restaurants, dine at foreign restaurants, watch foreign films, go to gallery openings, taste wines at a festival, meet for afternoon tea, dance the night away at embassies from around the world.
8.. Establish a higher standard of grace or excellence. You can start this by making finer choices. Instead of buying lots of low quality items and experiences, start buying higher quality ones. Instead of going to low quality restaurants, go more often to high quality ones.
You don’t have to spend all of your time and money on high quality items or experiences. But you should definitely increase the amount of time you do. The more you can, the better. It all adds up. And remember high quality, does not necessarily mean expensive.
9.. Practice good manners as often as possible. The more you practice, the more you will refine your mannerisms. The more you refine your mannerisms, the more you will see what is improper. For example, if you follow the rule, no sequins before 5pm, you will recognize who is breaking it.
10.. Question yourself and etiquette rules continuously. Etiquette should not be seen as a bunch of rules to be followed blindly. No. Please do not fall into that trap. Instead, for every rule, question why the rule was created.
Remember, most etiquette rules are based on showing consideration and respect for everyone including yourself. The more you understand this, the more natural etiquette will seem, thus quickening the process of obtaining good taste.
11.. Develop your intellectual mind. There’s nothing like an education, whether informal or formal, to help you learn, understand, and discern. Without an intellectual mind you will be hopeless in understanding the whys and seeing the finer details.
12.. Broaden your tastes by traveling. It will not only open your mind, but it will also allow you to experience different styles, cuisines, concepts, and people.
13.. Be natural. Whether for manner or style, affectation is the enemy of good taste. Yes, you are learning a new way of behaving. But it is important to treat this kind of learning the same way you would treat learning in college. Just add the knowledge you gain into your everyday life. Let it flow seamlessly into your life.
14.. Learn what is appropriate. This is perhaps the most important rule. And yet, it is often broken. Know that just because something is beautiful does not mean it will be suitable for every location, event, or person. For example, there are gifts that one should not give to a religious person but that are perfectly suitable for a non-religious person.
The most beautiful of ballgowns would never be appropriate for a picnic in the park. The most stylish of shorts would never be appropriate for a state dinner. And the sexiest of dresses would never be appropriate for meeting your in-laws for the first time. Remember to always keep in mind the individuals, the location, the event, and the time of day.
15.. Consciously compare and contrast. A few months after you start the process of cultivating start the process of actively refining it. As you walk through museums, visit show houses, stroll through stores, flip through magazines – look at the differences. Look for the flaws as well as the brilliancy in the items and ideas before you.
Go through you Pinterest or inspiration collection, and delete whatever pictures that no longer exemplify good taste to you. Ask yourself: what makes one prettier than the other, more stylish than the other, more elegant than the other, better quality than the other? This is you beginning to actively refine your taste.