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When I am shopping, a shop clerk may recommend a dress to me that is not what I usually wear. In this case, which sentence is more appropriate?

It's not my style.

It's not my taste.

Or, if I like the way someone is dressed, which sentence is more appropriate as a compliment?

I like your taste.

I like your style.

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Taste denotes preference—what you like, what sort of dress or book or cuisine you find pleasing.

Indian cooking is more to my taste than Thai.
Symonds had a taste for the exquisite in art and literature.
Her taste is impeccable: she abhors anything showy or vulgar.

Style denotes the manner in which something is expressed:

Milton's style, for all its Latinity, is violent and excessive, intended to bludgeon the reader into submission.
Chanel brought a new style to the runway, one based on youthful ease and athleticism.

Thus, when you say of a dress that “It’s not my taste”, you mean, literally, that it doesn’t suit your preference, you don’t like it; and when you say “It’s not my style” you mean, literally, that it does not present you as you wish to be seen.

But in conversation one is rarely so precise with language. And in this context what you probably mean is a combination of both ideas: “The style of this dress is not to my taste.” So in practice, the two expressions mean pretty much the same thing.

Similarly, when you are congratulating another woman you probably do not mean to restrict your admiration to either her taste in clothes or her appearance. You mean both, and either expression ought to serve. However; the expression “I like your style” usually means something different: unless you are speaking to a fashion designer, it expresses admiration not merely for the manner of dressing but for the manner of behavior—“I like the way you carry yourself, the attitude towards the world which your actions convey.” So you’re probably better off saying “I like your taste”.

Or you could simply say “That’s a really cute dress!”

  • I got the idea about the difference of these two words. – tennis girl May 7 '13 at 12:52
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The answer to the shop clerk depends on the mean which you want to convey it:

The difference between style and taste is never easy to define, but style tends to be centered on the social, and taste upon the individual. Style then works along axes of similarity to identify group membership, to relate to the social order; taste works within style to differentiate and construct the individual. Style speaks about social factors such as class, age, and other more flexible, less definable social formations; taste talks of the individual inflection of the social. Style usually follows social trends and mods but taste is a very personal choice.

So if you mean that dress is not according to your age,class or social order, you could say that it is not my style and if you mean your own personal taste which may not follow the social trends and mods, you say it is not (to) my taste.

For your second question I think both can be correct but if you want to be more conservative about, it is better to say I like your taste in clothes.

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    IF you meant by "cloths" to refer to the material from which a piece of clothing is made, then it's usually used in a non-count sense: I like your taste in cloth. But it seems to me tha in the context we have here, clothes or clothing fits better: I like your taste in clothes – Jim May 7 '13 at 14:54
  • @Jim Thanks! I edited it. I didn't know the difference between cloth and clothes. :) – Persian Cat May 7 '13 at 16:54
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Taste is your ability to recognize beauty in whatever form your find it — food, clothing, objects, ideas, art, behaviors, and so on.

Style is the way you apply your taste to the creation of beauty in your work or life.

Furthermore, good taste is a keen appreciation of how aesthetic principles — contrast, color, rhythm, texture, and so on — contribute to beauty.

Good style is the ability to express good taste in an authentic, personal way.

  • I don't think I would ever say, "He has good taste in ideas" or "behaviours" (behaviour is uncountable, perhaps you meant "manners") whereas, "He has good taste in art/music/clothes/wine/cuisine (cooking)/jewellery etc." are things which have an aesthetic value attached. – Mari-Lou A Nov 24 '13 at 8:06

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