I've always found it peculiar how wildly different peoples perception of beauty can be when it comes to material objects and spaces. Frequently, while doing some online browsing, I will come across an article of clothing that I can not fathom why someone would ever make, but deep down I know that someone out there would choose that shirt and label it as a "good find". Or I will look at the design of a space and have so many questions like "why?". Conversely (although I think its very unlikely), someone could look at an outfit of mine and wonder if I got dressed in the dark.
What is it? What is driving our tastes and our perceptions of what is aesthetically pleasing. The most obvious answer would be our environment, right? Our perception of material beauty is shaped by the context in which we find ourselves and the people that we interact with. For some reason that answer doesn't feel robust enough for me. What else? Maybe it's shaped by consensus which we draw from influential people? "If 'x' is wearing 'y', and 'x' has wealth and fame and power it must mean that 'y' is good". Possibly. Maybe the color palates of the shows we watched and the activities we participated in as children?
I'm sure the information is out there somewhere but I suspect that 1 ) There is a universal aesthetic; Things that most people would define as good or beautiful. My mind automatically goes to natural elements. The more a space reflects what we see in the natural world the more likely people are to accept it as beautiful. The same could be said for neutral clothing colors. Although for both, the form of the space or the design of the clothing greatly impacts this idea. In general, however, I think very few people would look at home or commercial space that incorporate earthy elements such as stones, wood, foliage, and natural colors and call it ugly. 2) Perhaps temperament and some other biological driver could play into why some people are drawn towards bright and bold colors and others. like myself, are not.
I'm sure i'll write something more developed on this in days to come after doing a bit of research.
For now, I think this is good enough response to tell my friend I don't like the dress she sent me.