Is Ralph Lauren—the Man Himself—My New Style Inspiration?

Part of my fascination with Lauren’s looks is that they are so crisp, quality-minded, and classic American. His perfectly faded jeans make it seem as if Lauren had spent years in them, herding cattle in the midwest. (In reality, Lauren was born to a poor Jewish family in the Bronx, born with the surname Lifshitz.) Whenever Ralph dresses up, it’s as if his ancestors had been roughing it in the plains of Montana or Minnesota for generations. (They weren’t; there’s no cattle-herding to be done uptown).

That ease trickles into Lauren’s look, even and especially when pieces shouldn’t go together but they do. One of those standout get-ups is from spring 2006, when he walked the runway in a chambray shirt layered over a blue and white striped top, paired with a pair of baggy jeans cinched at the waist with a thick brown belt, and a pair of Salomon sneakers.

Instagram content

This content can also be viewed on the site it originates from.

Another stroke of genius was a DIY three-piece suit: a gray jacket on top of a suede vest and button-down shirt with a tie, all of which he wore with cowboy boots, jeans, and a pinky ring. In a way, the looks are theatrical. It’s hammed-up Western chic, and yet it feels so natural for Lauren. The comedy-cultural account @OldJewishMen—who reposted one of these looks from @ralphshowfits and is the creator of the comical Ralph Lifshitz branded baseball cap—notes that Lauren being able to pull off these combinations has to do with Lauren simply being Lauren. “He doesn’t overdo it,” says founder Noah Rinsky. “Ralph is compact, tan, and keeps it simple and classic. You either have taste or you don’t. Ralphie’s got it made. You can’t teach that.”