The Discerning Choice

I am not particularly discerning.

I am the sort of person who dreams of a chic capsule wardrobe, but then can’t resist the lure of Primark. I am vulnerable to costume jewellery. I have a weakness for Pop Tarts.

And, actually, I’m quite proud of that. Some of the best things in life are – if not free – cheap, readily-available, and made of brightly-coloured plastic. I find all the fuss about this vintage of wine, and that limited-edition handbag a bit dull. Too often, it seems to me that people are trumpeting how much they’ve paid, rather than how good their purchase actually is.

Discernment, traditionally, has been a learned system of knowledge that denoted power and social class. It was about knowing the right names and the right places, whilst carefully maintaining an air of refinement and exclusivity.

I find that kind of discernment entirely boring: it’s dusty, closed and snobbish. I’m interested in a different, more contemporary kind of discernment.

Unlike our grandparents, or even our parents, we are now flooded with choice. We go to the supermarket and choose from twenty different types of potato; we need a pair of shoes and are faced with dozens of retailers, both online and on the high street, offering unfathomable choice at every price point. We are, quite simply, overwhelmed by abundance.

Does all this choice mean that we have better things? No. It means that we own thirty frocks and still feel we have nothing to wear; or we buy ready meals because we can’t understand the ingredients on offer. We make poor decisions, in bulk. We think we’re reeling in the bargains, but actually we’re wasting money in terrifying quantities on junk we don’t even like.

That’s the purpose of this blog. It’s not a lifestyle guide. It’s not about individual products. It’s about learning to develop the skills to make better choices, so that we can find our way through this great jungle of abundance.

And, crucially, it’s about enjoying the good things in life, rather than competing over who knows the most about them. Because that just misses the point, doesn’t it?

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8 Comments

  1. Very intriguing opening post. This rings a lot of bells with me so I’m very interesting in what’s coming next.

    Angela.

  2. Catherine Ross

    I came to this via the wonderful Amro. He’s very discerning. I look forward to your future posts, I’m very curious to see what you come up with. I’d love to shop better. I have a weakness for H&M that defeats me.

    Best wishes
    Catherine

    • BettyHerbert

      Thank you! I’m afraid I can’t live up to Amro’s levels of discernment. But I’ll put my L Plates on and give it a go.

  3. As an old bird I have developed the trick of going into clothes shops, sometimes the cheapies, and finding the one decent think in it. I leave no stone unturned . For stuff I crave , last year it was Ted Baker scarves, I go to the factory shops. As an ex colleague of mine, an elegant lady , once said ” Always buy in the sale ” and I do, I especially like going to the dreg ends of sales like Monsoon and finding something gorgeous and cheap. The other tip I’m notorious for is to buy , take it home , try it out , if it works with other clothes and my body type I keep it. In my dotage I have to be age savy …avoiding wilder trends . I now buy clothes etc that I know are classics and will last more than one year.

  4. I came across your website when I Googled ‘discerning’ – looking for ways to describe how people might view what we offer. Your introduction sums up the modern discerning approach well. We too want to avoid any connotation of snobbish, exclusivity, whilst conveying the true value and importance of what we feel really matters.

    I think that there is great scope here to share knowledge and enthusiasm for an enormous range of subjects. We would do our best to share our passion for what we do (as soon as we get the words right.)

    Enjoying your pages already…

    James

  5. I know what you mean. I feel it too, and as much as try to not get reeled in, it’s hard. Thank you for writing about this. I’ll keep on reading.

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