I think it’s about time that I make a confession: I as an “adult” have never actually owned a suit. And yes I do realize that preaching about the importance of dressing well, while not even owning a suit myself is more than a bit hypocritical. So, after years of not practicing what I preached, I finally decided to take the plunge this weekend and head up to Ralph Lauren’s Rhinelander Mansion to pick up a suit. While I plan to follow up the suit story with a full post in a couple weeks once I get it back from the tailors, I’d like to shift gears now, because aside from riding that “I just bought a suit” high, walking through the maze of sub-labels throughout the Mansion, I was continuously impressed by the shawl collar cardigans that I saw.
What is it about the southwest U.S. that makes it so appealing to a Jewish kid from the East Coast? Now, I don’t have much in common with the mighty Ralph Lauren, but I can say that he and I do share this particular question. For the past decade or so, since my parents decided to purchase a vacation house not near the beach, nor the mountains, but in Santa Fe, New Mexico, this question has been on mind. At first I dreaded coming out here, yet as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to love the Southwest for the much needed change of pace that it provides. For Ralph, the southwest was an untapped well of inspiration, a region with colors, designs, and textiles that were unlike anything he could find in his homebase of New York. And so in 1978, with the west on his mind, Ralph Lauren launched a new side of his brand, a move that elevated him from being merely a designer for the natty East Coast mentality, to a designer for the American history books.