Monday, December 20, 2010

Debut Entry: "A Matter of Taste"

When it comes to personal style I am always intrigued by how people define the term "good taste". In my travels I'll often ask clients, friends and strangers alike for their opinion and it always makes for interesting conversations and lighthearted debates. I've found that a lot of people fall into one of two categories:

Some believe that as long as they like something then that's all that truly matters and that in itself quantifies "good taste." Translation: forget the rest of humanity. It kinda reminds me of those guys who play Hip Hop music really loud in their cars. You know...the ones you can feel coming before you see them? As far as they're concerned that's an expression of style and it really doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. So these individuals will admit that their personal vision probably doesn't exactly fit in with the mainstream, but they embrace that individuality--and celebrate it whether it's good, bad or ugly.

And then you have people who think they can go out to their local department store and just buy "good taste." Usually these ones are very busy and just don't have time to agonize over the details. But they want to look good now and will pay to make it happen like yesterday. I guess these people assume that if they throw enough money at something (ergo, the more expensive the item is) the greater the chances will be that their purchase will be in good taste. But are either of these outlooks the best way to define it?

Well, let's illustrate this, shall we? Check out this pair of shoes:

Now aren't these the most precious set of kicks you've ever seen? They are custom-made and are extremely expensive. But would you say they are in good taste? Personally, I think they are disgustingly tragic. I mean seriously...these shoes put the "ug" in UGLY. Yet, they are advertised as being "hip" and "of the now". And believe me, someone out there who is in want of "good taste" will be suckered into paying big $$$ for them. Yep, they will buy these, and then show up at that elite dinner party (shedding black hairs all over the floor) believing they are the poster-child for chic...and oblivious to the fact that onlookers are silently laughing at them.

Yes, the truth is, when it comes to "taste" a lot of people just don't have a good idea of what they really like. Some will readily admit that they don't have an "eye" for fashion or decorating. Yet they obviously need clothes to wear, or furniture in their homes. So what do they end up doing? They go after the brand names and other easy-bake  TV schemes to define what their personal taste is for them. They get talked into it by salesmen who really don't care what the outcome will be (beyond their sales commissions of course) and soon these poor people have closets full of clothing they've only worn once, or homes crammed with things that don't jive together well. Worst of all, by the time they realize they've been suckered, a lot of their hard-earned money has been burned, the reality of which is more sad than those hairy cat-butt shoes I just showed you.

So the bottom line is, good taste is a delicate issue...and a personal one. It is a reflection of who you are and how you live. But it is also something you can change and reinvent as often as you please. With proper guidance, even a person with so-called "terrible taste" can make beautiful choices in life. The key involves what I like to call the 3-E Factor: Education, exposure and enlightenment.

I decided to name this blog Raison d'ĂȘtre because its meaning (a French phrase for "reason for existence") is very apropos in today's impatient world of "Get It Now". Our time on earth is so limited and this behooves us as human beings to make good choices with the time and resources we have. Doing so ensures we enjoy life to a fuller degree and our existence is enriched. So from time to time I believe it is important to review what really is in good style to make sure we are benefiting from it. Since so much of what brings us enjoyment involves our five senses, this blog will focus on decorating trends, fashion, style, etiquette, and other matters of taste. We'll have fun with this, while not taking ourselves too seriously. We'll look at how decorating trends of the past continue to have a bearing on the present, and examine everything from proper dining manners to the latest in couture fashion (furry shoe wear notwithstanding, of course).

So welcome to Raison d'ĂȘtre. I'm glad you're here.

Corey Damen Jenkins