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Taste: Acquiring What Money Can't Buy

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"'Good taste' is synonymous with success in all fields of life. It's not a question of money, but of a trained eye." Taste is proportion. Taste is civility. Taste is the mot juste. Taste is in play wherever educated people gather. Taste treats men and women, friends and strangers considerately. Taste cannot be bought, but only learn "'Good taste' is synonymous with success in all fields of life. It's not a question of money, but of a trained eye." Taste is proportion. Taste is civility. Taste is the mot juste. Taste is in play wherever educated people gather. Taste treats men and women, friends and strangers considerately. Taste cannot be bought, but only learned and practiced. In our modern times, the elegance and taste that characterized and defined such contemporary figures as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis has been overshadowed by gaudy wealth. But Tish Baldrige reminds us of the hallmarks of taste and its continued importance today. Taste is a book that, today, has its perfect author and proponent in Letitia "Tish" Baldrige, a Taste and Manners Icon for at least 50 years. Her appearances on TV talk shows have steadily increased, most recently (in August) on "Good Morning, America."


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"'Good taste' is synonymous with success in all fields of life. It's not a question of money, but of a trained eye." Taste is proportion. Taste is civility. Taste is the mot juste. Taste is in play wherever educated people gather. Taste treats men and women, friends and strangers considerately. Taste cannot be bought, but only learn "'Good taste' is synonymous with success in all fields of life. It's not a question of money, but of a trained eye." Taste is proportion. Taste is civility. Taste is the mot juste. Taste is in play wherever educated people gather. Taste treats men and women, friends and strangers considerately. Taste cannot be bought, but only learned and practiced. In our modern times, the elegance and taste that characterized and defined such contemporary figures as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis has been overshadowed by gaudy wealth. But Tish Baldrige reminds us of the hallmarks of taste and its continued importance today. Taste is a book that, today, has its perfect author and proponent in Letitia "Tish" Baldrige, a Taste and Manners Icon for at least 50 years. Her appearances on TV talk shows have steadily increased, most recently (in August) on "Good Morning, America."

30 review for Taste: Acquiring What Money Can't Buy

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Kester

    There's something about the very rich that I find acutely uncomfortable. Whenever I go into a very expensive store I always want to leave as quickly as possible. I don't like going out to stores to begin with so you can imagine how uncomfortable I'd be at a restaurant that has waiters like the gay guy in "Ferris Beuller's Day Off." When I go to places like the art dealerships in Sausalito, I generally feel I would much rather be at someplace like the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art or the Ne There's something about the very rich that I find acutely uncomfortable. Whenever I go into a very expensive store I always want to leave as quickly as possible. I don't like going out to stores to begin with so you can imagine how uncomfortable I'd be at a restaurant that has waiters like the gay guy in "Ferris Beuller's Day Off." When I go to places like the art dealerships in Sausalito, I generally feel I would much rather be at someplace like the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art or the Nelson-Atkins Art Gallery in Kansas City since those places are cheap or free some days and I look like I ain't got no money to these people so they could care less whether I live or die. I'll usually say something like, "I don't feel good" to get outta there... and I'll bring my nana along with me, who'll say real loud, "Have you had a B.M. lately?" (bowel movement) She'll be wearing one of her infamous hats that make her look like a hobo and the art dealers will breathe a sigh of relief that we left without breaking anything (except the penis off that one priceless sculpture that I didn't tell anybody about). It didn't help that I was dressed like Lil' Kim in a purple outfit with a patch on the boob. When I went to Tiffany's in downtown San Francisco I could hear one of the girls there (who was in her early twenties like me at the time- possibly younger) say, "I already have that and that and that..." It occurred to me that perhaps just buying something from Tiffany's and having it come in that little blue box was all that mattered- not what the item actually was. The person that wrote this book, Letitia Baldrige, worked for Tiffany's for some years and some of what she writes contradicts the title of her book: "Taste: Acquring What Money Can't Buy." It is indeed a fact that money can't buy taste. Just look at anybody that won the lotto or Missy Elliot, who bought a huge, beautiful grand piano and said, "I don't know how to play it." What is it there for, then? What the hell's wrong with you? Take a lesson! I have more respect for somebody like Redman, who's still living in the ghetto, the doorbell's broken, he's got people crashing on his couch who are still sleeping when the camera crew comes over, and a tin can with money in it on top of the refridgerator. Baldrige writes, " She was wearing hostess pajamas made of velvet and those were silver fox cuffs on her sleeves." Are you kidding me? Baldrige was the chief of staff to Jacqueline Kennedy and she comes from a prominent family. Having a good education she has an appreciation for things of culture like artwork, history, literature, and the theatre, but there is quite a bit of time devoted to things most of us can't relate to (or afford). I think the basic idea of good taste comes through, though. Baldrige describes walking into a zillionaire's home and seeing they had no books on their bookshelves. I find reading about people that have that many resources available to them and them not taking advantage of it to be ridiculous. Reading about the British Royal family, I was surprised that they didn't place that much value in education. You think that would be of paramount importance to someone in that position. It has only been in the second half of the twentieth century that education for girls, regardless of their social position, has been deemed important, so you had all these women, if they were educated, only going to colleges like Vassar to meet a husband. Society knew that the more education a woman had, the less likely she would be content as merely a wife and mother. You can't fill someones head with all these ideas and expect them not to want to use them. Once your children have grown-up and how you look is no longer of such importance, it can seem that there was so much you could have done that you didn't. That's why Jackie Kennedy went to work at a publishing house when she was older. In a sense, this book can be a little empty in that the woman comes from that kind of background and much time is devoted to people with more wealth than most of us will ever see in our lifetimes, but I think the basic ideas are good ones. What really exemplifies taste is someone that has an appreciation for culture in art, literature, and history and most importantly, takes into consideration the feelings of others by having good manners and doing things that show you care. People tend to be the biggest snobs when they really have little else going for them. Though I was poor when I was younger and my mom made a little more money after she joined the military, there was never a time when she didn't provide for us things that enriched our lives. Educating us through things like the public library or the art gallery always happened, no matter how broke we were. As a kid, we would go to the junk store in downtown Kansas City and buy huge stacks of books to take home. Things like that were so much a part of our lives that I took them or granted. Now, I realize how much they enriched it. For me, those things were an unconscious part of who I was so the idea of people displaying them like a label from one of their designer gowns is not something I would find attractive. If you have a conversation with someone, you'll usually know right away whether or not they want to have an in-depth conversation with you or they only have a superficial knowledge of what's being discussed. That's why I feel the author is wrong when she says that taste is something you can acquire. Someone can teach you about art history and tell you what is considered fine art and what isn't, but that still will only create a superficial knowledge of the subject in you, which doesn't create good taste. It only creates the appearance of good taste. Taste is something you're born with. Take, for example, Grace Kelly, touted by the author as a paragon of taste. I don't disagree with her that Kelly was usually beautifully dressed in Oleg Cassini gowns that made her look like a fairytale princess and she generally had very good manners and a large library in Monaco, but on her trip to the White House to have lunch with JFK (as mentioned in the book) she wore this huge, ugly hat (that was probably incredibly expensive) and spent the whole time making goo-goo eyes at the president when they both were married (they had had an affair years before). There's even a picture of it recorded for all time. That is not in good taste. Jesus, get it together. I may go out with huge pit stains under my arms like Al Gore did on the campaign trail, but I wouldn't ever do something so embarrassing to my husband that shows a total lack of consideration to everyone involved. I think that when it comes to real class, people that take into consideration the feelings of others are the ones we should emulate. That, to me, is the highest form of sophistication and taste. Baldrige addresses how you can have beer with hamburgers and french fries if you're too poor to buy Dom Perignon champagne, salmon and cucumber sandwiches. Come on. Those are two very different parties. You can have champagne instead of beer. You just have to buy cheaper champagne. Maybe not Dom Perignon, but something you can afford.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Anthony L

    Someone dumped this in the local library book exchange corner. I picked it up out of curiosity. Good grief! I simply couldn't help rolling my eyes at the pretentious snobbishness of the whole thing considering the amount of poverty and hunger in the world. Some people really live in their own cocoon, mouthing off about interiors of the White House, coiffeur, thoroughbred racehorses and name-dropping liberally in every page. What the author need is to be made to spend a few weeks with the homeless Someone dumped this in the local library book exchange corner. I picked it up out of curiosity. Good grief! I simply couldn't help rolling my eyes at the pretentious snobbishness of the whole thing considering the amount of poverty and hunger in the world. Some people really live in their own cocoon, mouthing off about interiors of the White House, coiffeur, thoroughbred racehorses and name-dropping liberally in every page. What the author need is to be made to spend a few weeks with the homeless in some poor country, desperate to see where her next meal come from. Just to get a dose of reality and balance in her perspective of life. I am not sure what is the word to use to describe people who talk about "taste" in the midst of mind boggling inequality in this world.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sabrina

    I loved most the late Ms. Baldridges books, but I must confess this one left me feeling a bit disappointed. Why? Because this book sadly underscores how out of touch Ms. Baldridge had became in terms of the world of etiquette. Of course no one would level major criticism because it would be too much like attacking one's beloved grandmother or aunt, but truth is truth. I appreciate the premise of the book because it's definitely true that money can't buy class as evidenced by the celebrities of t I loved most the late Ms. Baldridges books, but I must confess this one left me feeling a bit disappointed. Why? Because this book sadly underscores how out of touch Ms. Baldridge had became in terms of the world of etiquette. Of course no one would level major criticism because it would be too much like attacking one's beloved grandmother or aunt, but truth is truth. I appreciate the premise of the book because it's definitely true that money can't buy class as evidenced by the celebrities of today who behave so badly. However, is it realistic to expect them to act as though they were one of the celebrities of Ms. Baldridge's day? One gets the feeling that she was still living in the early 1960s, and that time had passed her. Mind, most of her advice in her other books is timeless but the constant references to Jackie O in this book become tedious. The reality is that most women of today can't live up to that standard even if they wanted to. The woman of today wants to do the right thing, but doesn't want to appear an anarchronism. It's too bad Ms. Baldridge didn't have a co-author from the younger generation to have something of a checks-and-balances with. I feel that would've improved the book greatly.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

    The message is one of quality, thoughtfulness, restraint, and becoming knowledgable. Even if you do not care for fashion, "society", manners, or art, I encourage you to read her introduction and chapter on entertaining. She encourages elevating any simple event just through the adding a few special details, in putting even just a little thought into it. Entertaining is a way to show a little kindness regardless of budget and what you have. The modern world seems to show less and less interest in The message is one of quality, thoughtfulness, restraint, and becoming knowledgable. Even if you do not care for fashion, "society", manners, or art, I encourage you to read her introduction and chapter on entertaining. She encourages elevating any simple event just through the adding a few special details, in putting even just a little thought into it. Entertaining is a way to show a little kindness regardless of budget and what you have. The modern world seems to show less and less interest in these ideas of taste. But I think it is because we equivocate it with snootiness rather than knowledge, with eliteness rather than connectedness, with excess rather than restraint, meanness rather than kindness, and Donald Trump rather than Michelle Obama. It is a book written to encourage experience with the senses, especially in the ones that we've lost since the democratization of design. Rather than telling us what is tasteful, she encourages the reader to gain a better personal awareness of all that is lovely in life.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    One of the quirky little areas I read in are etiquette books. I'm liked Baldrige's books on this topic and thought this might be an interesting spin off. Baldrige says you develop good taste by using your eyes to inform yourself of everything. You go to art museums, you admire table settings at Tiffany's, you look closely as what people you admire are wearing or how they have decorated their houses. As always, Jackie Kennedy is the ultimate model of good taste. But for all of her emphasis on loo One of the quirky little areas I read in are etiquette books. I'm liked Baldrige's books on this topic and thought this might be an interesting spin off. Baldrige says you develop good taste by using your eyes to inform yourself of everything. You go to art museums, you admire table settings at Tiffany's, you look closely as what people you admire are wearing or how they have decorated their houses. As always, Jackie Kennedy is the ultimate model of good taste. But for all of her emphasis on looking at things, THERE IS NOT A SINGLE PICTURE IN THE BOOK. This author has the connections to show us the beautiful house or the well-dressed woman, but she never does. I think I actually learned more about taste in one's wardrobe from Stacy and Clinton on What Not to Wear (god help me) than from this author who has access to many of the world's beautiful people. A disappointment.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Marissa

    Waste of time. Yeah she had some interesting anecdotes but it waslike a poorly taught history lesson. She'd suggest that taste can be helped if you have money but you don't necessarily need to have it and then give a supposedly supportive story about the fabulous parties the Amercan ambassador to Italy would give... She'd talk about Jackie O's fabulous style and then mention that she had help from the editor of Vogue, Oleg Cassini, and lots of ripped off French designers. The anecdotes were inte Waste of time. Yeah she had some interesting anecdotes but it waslike a poorly taught history lesson. She'd suggest that taste can be helped if you have money but you don't necessarily need to have it and then give a supposedly supportive story about the fabulous parties the Amercan ambassador to Italy would give... She'd talk about Jackie O's fabulous style and then mention that she had help from the editor of Vogue, Oleg Cassini, and lots of ripped off French designers. The anecdotes were interesting just because I didn't know much about America in that time period so I gave it 2 stars for entertainment but the educational or enlightenment values of this book?- No stars...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    I was extremely disappointed in this book. Contrary to what the title would suggest, it was packed with clubby, gossipy anecdotes about people who are much richer than you are. There was little to no discussion of taste as something that can be acquired, nor was there much instruction as to what separates taste from tasteless. (There was a lot about how so-and-so embodied taste.) The only mildly entertaining portion was the ancedote about how she accidentally garnished a plate of cold sliced mea I was extremely disappointed in this book. Contrary to what the title would suggest, it was packed with clubby, gossipy anecdotes about people who are much richer than you are. There was little to no discussion of taste as something that can be acquired, nor was there much instruction as to what separates taste from tasteless. (There was a lot about how so-and-so embodied taste.) The only mildly entertaining portion was the ancedote about how she accidentally garnished a plate of cold sliced meats with poison ivy, trying to make it look pretty. But now I've shared that anecdote with you. Don't bother with the book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    I enjoyed the encouragement to enrich one's life with museums, seeing beauty in our every day lives, taking care with personal presentation. Other than that, I found the author to be ineffective in offering a path to tasteful living with or without wealth. All of her examples were of the super wealthy. I grew tired of the author's name dropping; also finding it to be a bit hypocritical. I find that sort of conversation to be distasteful. The Jackie Kennedy references were moslty appropriate, but I enjoyed the encouragement to enrich one's life with museums, seeing beauty in our every day lives, taking care with personal presentation. Other than that, I found the author to be ineffective in offering a path to tasteful living with or without wealth. All of her examples were of the super wealthy. I grew tired of the author's name dropping; also finding it to be a bit hypocritical. I find that sort of conversation to be distasteful. The Jackie Kennedy references were moslty appropriate, but repetitive, and at times, irrelevant.

  9. 5 out of 5

    MissJessie

    I bought this book on a whim at a library sale, and, sadly, it wasn't worth the $2 I paid for it. It's now back in the "donate to the library sale" pile--that's recycling for you. This book was really just a collection of reminiscences from Ms. Baldwin, naturally enough, mostly about Jackie Kennedy. But there was nothing even remotely new, instructive, or entertaining about any of it. There were occasional touches of bitchy, but not even enough of that to make this worth the time it takes to read I bought this book on a whim at a library sale, and, sadly, it wasn't worth the $2 I paid for it. It's now back in the "donate to the library sale" pile--that's recycling for you. This book was really just a collection of reminiscences from Ms. Baldwin, naturally enough, mostly about Jackie Kennedy. But there was nothing even remotely new, instructive, or entertaining about any of it. There were occasional touches of bitchy, but not even enough of that to make this worth the time it takes to read. Two stars is a little too high, but without half stars, that's as close as I can get.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Woodward

    Reads like a old woman reminiscing about the past... no real structure, just ramblings about all the famous people she used to know, all the chic places she used to go, and all the glamorous things she used to do. Seemed very ego-centric. However, I did get a little bit out of it: a list of things I'd like to learn more about, and a new understanding of how pathetic devotion to fashion really is. Overall found it amusing. Reads like a old woman reminiscing about the past... no real structure, just ramblings about all the famous people she used to know, all the chic places she used to go, and all the glamorous things she used to do. Seemed very ego-centric. However, I did get a little bit out of it: a list of things I'd like to learn more about, and a new understanding of how pathetic devotion to fashion really is. Overall found it amusing.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Ah...snobby memoirs. What fun! Written by the first woman exec of Tiffany and Co. She DOES have an incredible knack for writing excellent descriptions of clothing and jewelry. Enough that even a get-ready-in-5-minutes gal like me was interested. One does wonder about the head shot of her included at the back however--not very stylish. Could have taken tips from my grammie on that one.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sylvia Swann-Levkoff

    When I put this book down I'm going to miss Letitia Baldridge. Her sweet, gracious spirit is always an inspiration. This book is a must read for every young woman setting out to make a life of her own. Letitia tells us where to look for inspiration, what to read, where to go, what to see. One thing is certain, Mrs. Baldridge should be the first stop. When I put this book down I'm going to miss Letitia Baldridge. Her sweet, gracious spirit is always an inspiration. This book is a must read for every young woman setting out to make a life of her own. Letitia tells us where to look for inspiration, what to read, where to go, what to see. One thing is certain, Mrs. Baldridge should be the first stop.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    This book was not what I thought it would be. It was referenced in a magazine article, so I picked it up thinking it would be a good read. However, the author is really old-fashioned and out-dated for today's standards. I guess if you are uber-rich it's more relevant, but for the average person, there is absolutely nothing useful in this book. This book was not what I thought it would be. It was referenced in a magazine article, so I picked it up thinking it would be a good read. However, the author is really old-fashioned and out-dated for today's standards. I guess if you are uber-rich it's more relevant, but for the average person, there is absolutely nothing useful in this book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ema123red

    Selfish banter.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    We do live in a world where everything is for sale and the more money you have the more privileges you have. That's capitalism for you. It's like selling your soul to the devil to get what you want. We do live in a world where everything is for sale and the more money you have the more privileges you have. That's capitalism for you. It's like selling your soul to the devil to get what you want.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Beverly

    Wretched claptrap from a senile woman who lives in the past and blathers on about how great Jacquelyn Kennedy is.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Marlies

    A fun Christmas present from my cute cousin (he even had it signed by the author!). A fun read, although she's still milking her relationship with the Kennedys. I guess I would too! A fun Christmas present from my cute cousin (he even had it signed by the author!). A fun read, although she's still milking her relationship with the Kennedys. I guess I would too!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mary Louise

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kristin Kiefer

  20. 5 out of 5

    maureen m Decker

  21. 5 out of 5

    gloria gash

  22. 4 out of 5

    Joy

  23. 5 out of 5

    SFE

  24. 4 out of 5

    KMR

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany Heiger

  26. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

  27. 4 out of 5

    Traci

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Woodard

  29. 4 out of 5

    Wayne Silverman

  30. 5 out of 5

    Diana Heald

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