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Taste: Acquiring What Money Can't Buy Hardcover – May 29, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0312351731 ISBN-10: 0312351739 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Truman Talley Books; First Edition edition (May 29, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312351739
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312351731
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.7 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #739,933 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Baldrige, who served from 1961 to 1963 as Jackie Kennedy's social secretary and chief of staff, was labeled America's leading arbiter of manners by Time in 1978. Her 20-plus books include Legendary Brides and the 736-page New Manners for New Times. The premise of this volume was suggested by her editor-publisher, Truman Mac Talley, who listened with aplomb to my shocking tales of what is happening today in social mores. Probing the history and nature of taste, Baldrige examines the role taste plays in the average person's life and explains how to educate your eye. She surveys celebrated tastemakers, from British art dealer Lord Duveen to Coco Chanel, with chapters on interior design and entertaining: The best dinner parties are those without any ulterior motive. They're rare but wonderful. The core of the book covers taste in fashion (where even the fabric is snob-important for some), encompassing such topics as wigs, jewelry, jeans, the application of lipstick in public, influential designers and shoe fetishism in Louis XIV's court. Throughout, she interweaves her own experiences with Diana Vreeland, Babe Paley and others. This patina of personal memories and anecdotes adds to the sheen of her polished prose. The vulgarians may be at the gates, but Baldrige is doing all she can to keep them away.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The eternal question of what is taste isn't directly answered by guru Baldrige. Instead, she quotes a designer, doyenne, or well-known wit--such as Coco Chanel, who opined that taste was the opposite of vulgarity. And she weaves enchanting tales of the Camelot White House (Baldrige was chief of staff for Jacqueline Kennedy); of postwar Parisian entertaining; of the elegant couture houses, such as Jean Patou and Vionnet; of Parish-Hadley and other designers extraordinaire. This narrative is more about her life than about taste per se; it is through her stories that the themes are developed. One theme is the absolute necessity of training the eye through museums and show houses and nature's visuals--not through the wallet. The second is paying attention to even the smallest detail, whether that be unchipped nail polish or correct silverware. And the third is the embracing of a sense of humor and kindness, two traits that define a real tastemaker. She says it best this way: "I believe that happiness comes from looking around us and finding the good and the beautiful in our own culture, and choosing to live with that taste." Barbara Jacobs
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Letitia Baldrige's books on manners have sold over two million copies; her previous guide to executive manners sold over half a million copies worldwide and has had sixteen printings. This is her thirteenth book. In her diplomatic career she served in the American embassies in Paris and Rome; in the White House she was Jacqueline Kennedy's chief of staff. She has served as a marketing consultant to many major international corporations and holds three corporate directorships. She produces management training seminars on business behavior for major American companies and professional institutions and writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column and a monthly national magazine column. She is a regular on major network TV programs. Letitia Baldrige and her family live in Washington, D.C.

Customer Reviews

One major problem with this book was the rambling style.
Michele
Letitia Baldridge is too classy and has too much taste to write a book that would offend people.
Sweet Valley High
I kept trying to give this book a chance, but half way through I returned it.
Angela M. Seekamp

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 42 people found the following review helpful By A Bon Vivant on July 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book contains the advice you have been looking for from that fabulous elder aunt. The book has been divided into five sections: Just Who Is This Person of Taste?; Good Taste in Fashion; Go, See and Educate Your Eye, Good Taste for Entertaining; and Tasteful Surrounds. In each section, La Baldrige tells tales of the iconic women whom she had the privilege of knowing, the official "rules" regarding each topic and, at times, she expounds on the standards of taste in today's society.

Just like your fabulous aunt.

But, just like your fabulous aunt, you will not agree with all of her expectations and, sometimes, her tales read more like a good Vogue magazine article than a book.

If you are looking for an academic analysis of the demoralization of society, this is not the book for you. If you are looking for a book that is a quick read, full of guidance (however personally impractical it might be for you, the reader) and stories of iconic women straight from the source, buy it and enjoy!!
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful By J'MO on June 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is the perfect book for our A.D.D. addled times. This distillation of some-number-of-year's experience as America's leading tastemaker and etiquette goddess is a fun-to-read, easy-to-absorb hommage to something we call could use a little more of - good taste.

Letitia Baldrige is truly the stylistic "power behind the throne." She has reigned in Paris, Rome, Washington, New York and, most likely, Podunk. She knows her stuff inside out and could look down her nose like the haughtiest of grande dames at the daily blasphemies that are passed off as "world class" taste, but she never does, for two reasons: she has a kind heart and a well of humor that never seems to run dry.

Read this book - you'll take away so much. One may not have silver-gilt flatware and haute couture clothes, but TASTE shows that one doesn't need them if you have the things that really matter - a curious mind, the aforementioned kind heart and an indomitable spirit.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Catherine S. Gardner on May 9, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Letitia Baldridge is keeping manners and taste at the forefront of a
decent human education and I applaud her in these efforts. It is
critical in this day and age that we hone our skills in civility,
rather than give in to the overwhelming trend to "trash" such skills.
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34 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Michele on October 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have never before bought an etiquette/lifestyle book by Letitia Baldrige or anyone else, so I don't know exactly what I was expecting from "Taste"; but whatever it was, I didn't find it.

My first complaint about this book is the price. I never complain about the price of a book; as a true book lover I consider a good book worth the price. However, when I opened my package from Amazon and saw how skinny this book was, my first thought was, "I paid $20 for this?!" Then I opened the book and was further dismayed to see how large the print was. Not much there, for sure. But hopefully what was there would be good enough to make me feel it was worth the $20......

The first two-thirds of the book are the worst, in my opinion. This is the section where Baldrige talks about personal taste, and good taste in fashion. Unfortunately, she doesn't offer much of anything of substance. It is really just her reminiscences about women of society, wealth, fashion and taste that she has known, interspersed with reminiscences of incidents in her own life where she learned "lessons" in taste and culture, interspersed with a brief history of fashion and designers from the Middle Ages to the present day. She talks the most about Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, which is to be expected, I suppose, given her former employment with the Kennedys, but it is still a bit much. I mean, how many times did she talk about Jackie's "brioche" hairdo? At least three..... C'mon.... And her hypothetical examples of bad taste are so exaggerated as to be downright ridiculous. But perhaps this was on purpose; if she used a more realistic example of bad taste, perhaps describing the dress of someone she had actually seen on the street, a reader might say, "hey, that's how I dress!" and be offended or hurt.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Sweet Valley High on February 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Letitia Baldridge is too classy and has too much taste to write a book that would offend people. So she didn't. She merely told stories of the tasteful women she has known and avoided anything that would be too rude. She could have gotten down and dirty and listed all tasteful items, which I was kind of hoping for (most tasteful silver patterns, china patterns, crystal, etc., would have been interesting), but of course it is all truly a matter of opinion, as she knows very well. If you are looking for a guide for tasteful things, I recommend "Things I Wish My Mother Had Told Me" by Lucia Van Der Post. I still love Baldridge though, especially "A Lady, First"
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Donna D on October 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
So what is it that makes a woman stand out in a crowded room or stay in the mind of those around her for an evening, a month, a decade? Taste. Acquiring What Money Can't Buy by Letitia Baldrige attempts to answer this question with a study of style and the influential people that wield it over time. More than a commentary, Taste is an interesting look at art and culture, as well as a peek at the life of the author herself, a woman that made a career on advising others on matters of taste.

read the full report at [...]
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