Taste this

Do you have good taste?

A lot of people think they do but I'm certainly not one of them, leaving me distressingly vulnerable to women convinced of their aesthetic discretion.

I find many people who insist they have good taste can be veeeery pushy, especially if they're your girlfriend and you're contemplating purchasing a new jacket or pair of sneakers.

They "know exactly the right thing" to buy and, if you know your taste is up your bum, like me, you can often walk out of an overpriced boutique feeling like a lump of plasticine with a thumb print in the middle, bearing the impression of the last "tasteful" personality you encountered.

This is often the case with single guys moving up the corporate ladder who come into a bit of money and decide to get "funky" with their casual wear.

Having no taste of their own, they'll walk into a fashionable store where a maliciously experimental assistant will transform them into some kind of hip-hop/DJ/military aviator.

Think Karl Stefanovic in Ian Thorpe's wardrobe.

For men in relationships who have no taste, the hazards are no less embarrassing. I have four distinct phases in my wardrobe, all styled by ex-girlfriends absolutely certain they had great taste.

The problem with chicks who have great taste is they rarely agree with each other, especially if the "other" is the ex-girlfriend of their current boyfriend.

So I know men whose wardrobe can most kindly be described as "eclectic", so at odds were the fashion dictates of their American girlfriend, Greek girlfriend, fashion designer girlfriend and hippie girlfriend (now fiancée). 

Sometimes it's hard to know who the real you is. Leather jacket guy? Knits boy? Birkenstocks dude? Sure you feel comfortable in jeans and a T-shirt but is that your true taste or just a default laziness?

Some of my most cherished items of clothing from years gone by - my red canvas belt, clam-shell adidas shoes, suede and patent leather winkle-pickers and Lollapalooza 1992 muscle shirt - have all been derided and denounced by past girlfriends.

However, these were my A-list clothes when I met them! Stuff I felt so comfortable wearing I was free to be myself, not worry about whether the epaulettes on my $400 shirt looked good - I knew the winkle-pickers looked good.

So this is where it gets confusing - when the things you love most about your wardrobe - your taste - are the things she dislikes most.

In the movie High Fidelity, the character Rob Gordon, played by actor John Cusack, famously opined that "what really matters is what you like, not what you are like ... books, records, films, these things matter".

And to that list you could add clothes.

The deep and meaningful part of me wants to scoff at such a superficial pronouncement, but having been in my fair share of relationships, I know it is these "tastes" that form the ballast of many people's personalities.

This raises the question: if he or she finds your taste objectionable, is it not a matter of time before they feel the same about you?

In my impressionable youth, I often wondered if you could be a good person with really bad taste but then I got older and realised the most interesting people I knew - my friends - had shocking taste.

What's more, people with impeccable taste, whom I tended to avoid, and who agonised over epaulettes and the colour of their shoelaces, well, they spent so much time worrying about this stuff, there wasn't a lot of their brain left to talk to over dinner.

So, I guess, maybe, I have good taste in friends?

Sam de Brito's latest novel Hello Darkness is in bookstores now. You can follow him on Twitter here. His email address is here.