I got an Ethan Allen catalogue in the mail yesterday. (Once, feeling momentarily affluent, we bought a dresser there. When a handle broke, EA replaced it and started to send us all these glossy catalogues.) The shiny and expensively printed booklet was full of ornate furniture and home decorations, displayed with handsome people in evening dress draped over some of them. Mirrored chests, curlicues, turned legs, brocade bed covers, huge abstract art and artefacts. Not. My. Taste. No, not at all. I tend more to plain wood, cherry for choice, with maybe a tiny ornamentation and overstuffed comfy leather wing chairs. Lots of lamps, placed so that reading is easy. Very few display objects, most of them gifts, such as a digital picture frame. Overly ornate and decorated makes me slightly crazy, not to mention the extra care and cleaning.
My take on clothes is similar. When I open the paper and see the latest in spring fashions displayed on models who make toothpicks look plump, my reaction is disbelief. Crotch level skirt, all ruffles. Droopy sweater with arms that hang below the fingers and some kind of hanging front. Not. Wearable. No, not by any ordinary human being who has to do things like write, cook or drive. Or even sit in comfort.
I am also repelled by hairstyles that, in my opinion, are not styled. Long hair, almost exclusively, either streeling over the shoulders or tied back inadequately so that hair has to be pushed out of the face, just puzzles me. You manage this hair with a baby? Out in the wind? You keep it out of the stock pot? Not. Likely. No, not practical and also, not pretty. It makes women with long faces look like horses and women with round faces look even worse than that.
I believe taste is formed both by the family and by the generation in which a person is born. I am a 'war baby', born in 1942 and my taste is probably partly attributable to my mother*, who liked clean lines and classic clothing, and to the style of the late forties and fifties, when I was an impressionable kid. I was brought up to dress 'like a lady' and regard an easily cleaned house as a blessing. While I have extensively revised what my mother thought these standards meant (I wear trousers and jeans almost exclusively, even though the standards of the fifties relegated the latter to gardening only and my mother insisted on skirts in public, even for twelve-year-olds), I still judge by similar values. Revealing a lot of cleavage in a business setting or looking like you and your hair just got out of bed together seem to me bad taste. Making dust-catching vignettes all over the house is a waste of time and effort. I may be a stuffed dinosaur, at that, or stuffy, anyway.
What's your idea of good taste and tasteful dressing?
* My mother in full 'lawyer's wife' costume. At my wedding reception, in fact.