You always notice the person wearing a great shirt. A classic that, for me, holds just as much appeal as a perfect pair of jeans. Shirt Stories is about others who feel the same, women and men, and who wear it well.
Ralph Lauren brings the ease, freedom and ruggedness of the American outdoors to the runway. Jeans and checked shirt on top of a henley. Can it get any more lumberjack-like than this? And yet, on the designer, it feels right, regardless of the surroundings. On many, or most, such blatant dress code-breaking would look subversive. But on Ralph Lauren it stands out as perfectly natural, the result of loyalty to a particular style, all his own, stemmed from utter practicality, the very same that Ralph Lauren and his brand stand for. It’s also the result of knowing what works for yourself.
I usually pay more attention to men’s style than I do to women’s. It is the men’s style that affords me more focus and inspiration when referencing my own personal style. Not necessarily in terms of borrowing the exact pieces a man’s wardrobe consists of (although, who denies the utter attractiveness such pieces exude when combined with feminine details and the balance is just right?), but the idea that looking good doesn’t have to mean standing out. Just wear what makes you feel like yourself, over and over and over again.
Take the checked shirt, for example. Prints, besides stripes, are not my thing. But the plaid shirt has always been the exception to the rule. It is simply the fact that it looks so good. It is embedded with authenticity, a sense of comfort and innate, laid-back appeal. And when I think of the cold days ahead, and knowing myself, there won’t be few times when wearing a shirt (because I can’t do without) will implicitly mean a warm plaid shirt atop a white undershirt (jeans will probably be part of the equation, too, but so will high heeled ankle boots) with the conviction that it’s the best layering tip of the season.
But leaving my own styling ideas aside, Ralph Lauren remains, quite possibly, the one, man or woman, who has worn the plaid shirt best, able to message that quiet confidence, that simple but particular look one aspires to when it comes to genuine personal style. And, as long as we are on the subject of Ralph Lauren’s signature look, the tartan can easily be substituted with denim. And, if we are to talk denim shirts, we might just well talk double denim. Robert Redford is one name who, long ago, earned his leading role in the pantheon of men who wear double denim well (only recently have I talked about it , after all), but nobody can argue with the fact that Ralph Lauren has a place just as much deserved on the list, in all its medium-washed glory.
photos: 1-Vogue.com / 2-Susan Wood, East Hampton, New York, 1977 / 3-Bruce Weber, RRL Ranch, 1983 / 4-Bruce Weber, Martha’s Vineyard, 1981 (taken by me from the book Ralph Lauren)