Tuesday, 14 August 2012

A Question of Taste

When these jeans were first unearthed from the dressing up box some two or three years ago I shuddered. They called to mind the kind of garment that Eddie from Absolutely Fabulous would descend on in a cloud of exclamations and “sweetie darlings!” The swirls, patterns and colour scheme were part henna tattoo, part psychedelic ode to the nineties. I stuffed them back into the dark corner they’d emerged from, shaking my head.
My mum had found them, and a partner pair, in the local charity shop for a pound apiece. The reason for purchase was the label stitched into the back: Jean-Paul Gaultier. They were bought for the sheer hell of it. No need to wear them – just occasionally admire (or wince at) the brash patterns. The corresponding pair was equally outrageous: the combination of black, white and red called to mind a skeletal, Alexander McQueen-wearing zebra. I defined both pairs as the epitome of ‘bad taste’, suitable only for silly evenings spent in even sillier costumes.

Here I am, several years later, wearing them out of choice. I recently cleared out the basket under my bed housing the ball gowns, sequined tops, fifties floral aprons, old nighties, lace leggings and other fancies used for dressing up. Although the ‘clearing’ was only minimal - I managed to get rid of about four items - it led to re-discovery of the trousers. Whether it is my taste that has changed, or the zeitgeist (as my mum remarked: “patterned trousers are everywhere at the moment”), they appeared a little more acceptable than previously judged. Although I would never call them beautiful, in my eyes they are now rather extraordinary.

There are two types of taste. The first is that dictated by the ‘tastemakers’: those who deem a particular colour, shape or style to be the most desirable of the season. This taste changes by necessity every six months in the world of fashion, and regularly in all other creative spheres – such as music, art or literature. Fledgling trends gain mainstream appeal, while seemingly popular styles quickly fade.  In all areas, the taste must change so that more items – be they clothes, paintings, furniture or novels – may be sold. There is a constant desire for the new, leaving a huge pile up of the ‘out of date’ and the ‘hopelessly passé’ behind. Such taste is market driven and rather fickle.

For one who is interested in the eternal and timeless power of creativity, this can be dispiriting. If something is reduced merely to a product to be sold (and then superseded by something else), then what is there to celebrate? But the best creations are those in which imagination and innovation is not forfeited in the bid for profit. There are plenty of designers out there – from Corrie Nielsen and Mary Katrantzou to Fyodor Golan (three favourites of mine) – who elevate fashion beyond the mundane and ordinary. They do not just clothe the body, but enhance it. Their designs might not be considered timeless in the way that a Chanel jacket or a tailored white shirt might be, but they are memorable enough to transcend seasons.

At least, that’s my opinion. Their clothes appeal to my personal taste – the intricately woven map of loves and hates unique to me. Personal taste is altogether harder to define, as it alters with less precision than popular taste. Personal taste is instead an accumulation of experience, knowledge, impressions and opinions. I have learnt that I love 1960s mini-dresses and will wear them at every opportunity, but my early teen penchant for brightly coloured hoodies and trainers is a thing of the past. Personal taste evolves and is added to as we grow. Things previously described as horrendous can become desirable – and vice versa. Trends can briefly influence personal taste too. I’m happy to crack out the Laura Ashley-esque crocheted dresses whenever the seventies rears its head. I wouldn’t ever want to adhere entirely to what is ‘in’, as its better to forge a path than follow one, but there’s no harm in taking onboard pointers now and then.

Who knows what will happen with these Jean-Paul Gaultier trousers? For all I know, in several years time they might be scrunched up back under the bed. Or alternately they might still be worn with pride – although perhaps not with these particular heels, as they are completely impossible to walk in.

The highly impractical heels were from eBay, the men's silk shirt from a charity shop and the vintage silk scarf was inherited from my maternal great-grandma. All, however, were merely a sideshow to the jeans.  


100%soie said...

how beautifu is your outfit !!! these pants make your legs so long !!!!! and the shirt is very beautiful too !!!


Cassandra Liu said...

The jean is absolutely beautiful! Great print, awesome color, and fit so good on you.
Stop by my blog if you can :)


Closet Fashionista said...

Those are so much fun!!!! You look amazing

It's so funny how we change our mind about pieces over the years. I would have probably had the same reaction if I found those a few years ago.

And I totally agree, sometimes some of the most out their pieces are the ones that last a long time because they are so unique.

Sasha said...

You never know how you will look in a few years. But for now - it's a nice outfit with that extra retro feel to it.

helly said...

Wow, what a pair of jeans! Wouldn't suit everyone but on you they are perfect!
That is funny how some pieces look ridiculous to you when you're a child but after a few years they might become your favourites. That's what happened to my grandmother's old fake fur jacket. 5 years ago I would never have worn it but today it's my favourite jacket!

Perdita said...

I would wear them instantly...I thing the detailed pattern is endlessly intriguing. However my 'taste' is I make a conscious effort to avoid 'good taste' (I'm talking The White Company, Gap, burlap minimalism 'good taste')- for several years I avoided fast fashion by trying to look timelessly tasteful/bland, and it made me utterly miserable. Now I go the other way and dress rather oddly, it tends to garner more compliments and I feel much better for it (and no 'fast fashion' trend following either).

Willow said...

It is interesting how our taste changes. Although half the time I don't know what's in fashion, I think fashion definitely works with a certain mood in the moment to make something more desirable.

The pattern of these pants certainly remind me of henna/surfer-style tattoos.
Even though I don't think my taste will ever change enough for me to love these pants, if I saw these in a charity shop I probably would have bought them too - I have bought quite a few cheesy and outrageous things just for the hell of it (that includes a fluffy top hat and an extremely distasteful rainbow belt.)

I think this outfit was put together really well - it definitely helps that you have the figure to be able to wear pants like these.

Great post, I love the photos (and your hair looks very cute.)

- Willow

Krystalle said...

With or without the patterned trousers trend, I would absolutely kill to find this pair for a pound! My personal taste has always revolved around the weirder and the more outrageous; I personally find it more challenging to style a crazily patterned pair of trousers than say, a plain denim one.

Occasionally, the 'popular taste' for the season agrees with my personal taste. But sometimes, the 'popular taste' dictates certain fashion trends like minimalism, for example, which are beyond my personal taste, but this phenomenon is almost inescapable as all the high street stores roll out clothes that correspond to these trends. I think it definitely kills creativity in this aspect, but thankfully it only lasts for a few seasons. That's why rummaging in vintage or thrift stores are so much fun! They're not restricted to the current fashion trends of the moment, but instead, display all the fashion trends from the past decades, making it easy for us to pick and choose according to our personal taste!

daisychain said...

I've always been attracted to the uglier pieces of clothing around, needless to say I LOVE these trousers (and you rock them!)

Sasha said...

I love the texture on that shirt and the pattern of the jeans

STARZ* said...

I think they are AWESOME!!! I love them! they are odd but strangely cool. But, that seems to be whats in right now. very cool,and you rock them none the less:)
I LOVE your blog!!

Thrifted Shift said...

Ah, yes, the zeitgeist! I enjoyed these photographs and the narrative of these pants immensely! I also appreciate your honesty about the shoes! Have a wonderful day!

Melanie said...

If I wear a decidedly outrageous piece and passersby only look at that one piece when I stroll past, I consider that, while I may still feel spectacular, I have failed to convey that feeling to others because I have narrowed their focus too much.

When you say your other items are a sideshow to your jeans, I must object! I think your entire ensemble looks completely unified here. If I were to see you on the sidewalk I'd say, Whoa! Awesome! in reference to the whole you. Your towering bundled hair and your impossible-to-walk-in shoes with that boldly tied shirt, sweetie darling, nobody could pull it off quite like you have here.

La Dolce Vita said...

First of all, let me tell you, I love your thoughts which you express so well in your writings.

Yes, taste is very personal and it has very little to do with changing trends and fashion. I personally would wear anything that appeals to me even if it is 5 years old and out of fashion.I do not know much about fashion and cannot afford expensive outfits, but I feel that we have an inherent "personal taste" and "originality" that helps us to "be who we are" or "wear what we want to" in the midst of evolving and ever changing fashion and taste.
I love how you leave a "personal touch" to the outfits that you wear. As I have heard " fashion comes and goes out but style is here to stay".
I love your Beautiful self expression-both in your writing and your style.
have a nice day!

Kate Wyver said...

I do find it strange how quickly I can change my mind about something! I sometimes regret throwing things out or giving things to charity shops because I didn't like them, as usually at one point or another I wish I could wear them again!

OrigamiGirl said...

I am kind of glad to hear that you have trouble in those shoes. I am such a shoe-wuss and looked at them with a cross between wincing and admiration. I don't think I'd get more than a few feet in them! That's one foot in each and feet as in measurement.

I understand the confliction with the trousers and it is funny how trends and time can really make you change your mind about a piece. That's why I hold onto weird things in my closet (like tweed shorts I have never worn) in the hope that one day I will look at them and suddenly there will be love. As always though you look spectacular in them. I think I would be tempted to wear them more like tights with a short dress over the top.


mary van note said...

beautiful photos. the JPG jeans are epic. i guess that's why i stick so much to vintage, because it's always in style to me... or out of style. and when you say to the world "I'm doing things differently" you can get away with anything. but I can't say I'm completely free from the influence of trends. I definitely hold on to so much because I feel like I might want it down the road when similar looks become trendy. but i feel like i should just challenge myself and wear the items regardless.

Maya Topadze Griggs (Soccer Mom Style) said...

I love this post! Photos and the writing. It all depends how you wear something, doesn't it. You've done a fantastic job styling these old pants so that the total look is very modern and classic at the same time :)

Bonnie said...

Those pants?? I need. They're amaze balls.

Twitter: @GlamKitten88

Lydia said...

Those pants are fantastic. In fact, I love this whole look. Bravo for digging them back out.

Fashion Tales said...

I certainly know that my personal tastes have changed considerably. I adore mid-century and modern colour laces. As a teen I used to don crazy prints, graphics, and laces, oh my! But, the most that has changed now is the playfulness ... it's more refined. I still have fun with my style though!

You look gorgeous and those printed trousers are indeed special! I'm glad that you took them out to wear!

SabinePsynopsis said...

Isn't it funny how our tastes shift? I've got similarly patterned, but much looser, 2nd hand velvet trousers from Kenzo which I haven't worn for years and years... But lately I've been eyeing them with interest. Though they look NO WAY as hot and 'now' as yours. xo

Sandra said...

I just love your mile-long legs :) gorgeous :))))

Stop by - Where are my keys?

Dominika said...

You look very pretty!

Whitney Cosgrave said...

chic, I love the pants!

odysseyhome.com said...

Since you mentioned it, I can see Eddie from Ab Fab loving this pair of Gaultier printed trousers.
"Personal taste is instead an accumulation of experience, knowledge, impressions and opinions." Spot on.
You look so chic, Roz. I hope you'll wear these Gaultier pants again.

Izzy/Bella said...

I agree: a sidesow to your jeans, gorgeously paired alongside scarf et al. (As mentioned previously above, my 'usband broke my computer-- just te one key as it turns out, I tink you can guess now wic key it is :). I've been out of te loop, traveling and aven't ad a cance to replace it, but we're buying a new one tis week. Wat say ye? PC or Mac? Since you like fasion and writing, I tougt you migt ave an interesting take on my dilemma.)And yes I just spent an afternoon in te Lower East Side. Printed pants are ubiquitous but you give tem a personal flair. And anyway watever looks great :)I can't even get into pants at te moment, and I'm only sixteen weeks! Dressed and stockings it'll be for me for a foreseeable future!

Rebeccak said...

I have been thinking about Taste a lot lately - but in totally different terms.

It keeps popping up in my research as an important motivator for the provision of public art education in the Victorian era. In the Victorian imagination, good taste was linked with good morals (a philosophy I still find a little difficult to wrap my head around), so teaching taste was put forward as a way of improving society.

I hadn't really thought much about how it might be applied to fashion of the day - or whether these ideas might still apply to our understanding of art education today? But the more I think about it, the more 'taste' seems to be some slippery term that manages to slip away before it can be pinned down and defined. Perhaps that is what makes it so compelling?

The Foolish Aesthete said...

I am reading this post right now with my legs encased in loud, pink and green flowers! Taste certainly goes around. These trousers, and the white, deconstructionist blouse I am wearing with it, are both from deep within the wardrobe box of forgotten clothes!

The Jean Paul Gaultiers look fabulous on you. I think we all agree they deserve to be taken out for a spin more often. -- J xxx

Fashionistable said...

It is amazing how looks are cyclical. Even if 1st time round you didn't like them. I do love a good pattern. And the 2nd shot of you is beautiful. Xxxx

Le Blog de Hrisanthi said...

Great fashion, so creative, great photos! Love the theme