How to Develop Good Taste

Derek Guy of Put This On has six suggestions for developing good taste:

  1. Start with an aesthetic

    Everything is contextual to an aesthetic … This is partly why some guys who favor classic tailored clothing struggle with casualwear—they try to transport cultural ideas about suits and sport coats to very different aesthetics, such as workwear or sportswear.

  2. Think of fashion as a language

    Questions about taste are more easily answered if you think of fashion as language, rather than purely as artistic expression … A “good” sentence is more than just following grammatical rules; it’s about taking into account how different parts come together to create meaning.

  3. Develop your vocabulary

    Pay attention to films, TV shows, books, art, music, and the various subcultures in different eras … Clothes carry the messages we use to convey our identity, whether real or aspirational. Paying attention to culture can help you broaden and hone your vocabulary.

  4. Think of the whole package

    … be truthful about how your dress interacts with your physical appearance and lifestyle … When it comes to style, recognize that you can’t convincingly adopt someone’s wardrobe any more than you can mimic their manner of speaking.

  5. Rely on people and stores

    Over the years, I’ve come to know a few people who have developed remarkably tasteful wardrobes in a short period of time. Without fail, it’s because they relied on people with good taste … There’s real value in going to a store with a point of view and working with merchants (or tailors) who can guide you towards better choices.

  6. Buy and experiment

    When wearing new things, try to see what you like or don’t like about the style, so you can refine your taste and choose better purchases in the future.

Though applied to fashion, his advice is relevant to any field (like art and music) where having “good taste” is a signal of cultural capital.