To be honest, I am getting fed up of the way all major Linux desktops are going in terms of bloat and fat menus, window headers etc. From what i can see, GTK3 is behind much of it. But, I can't be sure because I lack the technical knowledge. I should stress, this is a personal issue and I am sure many people will find the latest desktops to be just fine for them and I have no problem with that.
My next install is going to be Openbox, pcmanfm desktop manager, Lxpanel and a modified Openbox menu pinned to that panel cos it has a nice menu editor called "obmenu", unlike Lxpanel's menu, which is a right bugger to edit. My main reason for using LXpanel is the easy capacity to have things like the clock and other indicators as well as buttons for windows.
It's basic and simple and works. It also has the advantage of being super fast and lightweight and I really do mean lightweight. The setup described above comes in at under 200mb on the Ram. I've been experimenting with the above in a VM for a few months now and it works great for me.
I realize the above setup is pretty esoteric and will certainly not be to the taste of most users and that's fair enough. That being the case, I would always recommend Mate as the desktop of choice for those wanting one off the shelf.