A Question Of Taste

Is taste subjective? Tim doesn't think so.

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I hear myself saying in this episode that in this case, there seems to be a problem with taste. Taste is so terribly difficult to discuss, because it is a topic that is rife with biases and rules that do not transcend different societies and cultures very well. But I'm dancing around matters when I should merely be blunt: taste is not a politically correct subject, but without it, we would live in a world of god-only-knows-what hideous drivel. To develop taste, it requires the training of one's eye to the principles of form, proportion, harmony, and balance. Its underpinning is the Golden Mean, which means that it has a Western bias. (In fact, I don't believe that Asian cultures have words in their languages that pertain to the Western concept of taste.) Is taste subjective? Frankly, I don't believe that it is. I believe that it is what it is. And too much of it can be very boring, indeed. I'm reminded of the words of the ne plus ultra Diana Vreeland: "I adore good taste, and we all need a splash of bad taste; no taste is what I'm against." "Style" is another matter, but don't get me started.

 

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Elena seems to have a fascination with her clothes that are all around memories. She seems, in fact, to treat articles of clothing as though they are her friends (even personifying them). I believe that we all project memories into items in our wardrobe with which we have strong associations: events, people, places. If these items are part of our daily lexicon of dressing (and are successful on us), then this is merely an enhancement to their place in our wardrobe. But if these items are stuck in the back of the closet and only meet the light of day for our quick embrace for a waft of nostalgia, then let them go. Furthermore, given the ephemeral nature of clothes, take a picture; it will last longer. A lot of the comments we receive to the show have been about finding a make-up artist. With precious few exceptions in my experience, one can get a make-up consultation wherever make-up is sold. While the consultation may be ad hoc at drug stores or pharmacies, for example, larger department stores usually have experts on staff. These individuals are equipped and experienced to give you a full consultation and make-up makeover. These individuals are also prepared to offer you advice on artists who can visit your home, especially for special events like weddings. Even I have sought advice about the types and proper application of concealers (and at my age I need all the concealing I can get...)

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Let's turn our attention to the word "boxy" - which Elena uses to describe herself again and again. If we each stand naked in front of a mirror and take ourselves apart like a stack of blocks, we'll realize that we're composed of geometric shapes. Elena's perception of her boxiness derives from her torso; that is, she's fairly straight up and down whether being examined from the front, back, or either side. However, this can be mitigated by cinching the waist, for example, or opening up the shoulders, clavicle, and very top of the breasts. Elena was underscoring her boxiness by wearing styles and silhouettes that served to accentuate that feature. Don't do it! I knew that Jill Stuart would be our savior! I knew that Jill would understand Elena's sensibility, yet raise the bar by giving her a level of polish and sophistication that Elena hadn't experienced and desperately needed. What I wasn't prepared for was the perfect fit that she received right off the rack. Jill, we love you!

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Let me say a few words about "letting go" of a wardrobe that size. Most, if not all things associated with fashion, involve the psyche. That means that when we speak about fashion, we're a mere hair shy of triggering a psychotic breakdown. It's true. You can't "let go," unless you're psychologically and viscerally prepared to do so. Your brain can tell you, "Get rid of it!" but unless your emotions agree, you're sunk. Veronica and I were resigned to letting Elena keep as much of her wardrobe as she desired, so imagine our elation and relief when she come to terms with letting it go. Frankly, she was even more elated and relieved than we. Hurray!