Ralph Lauren is an iconic American fashion brand known for its timeless, preppy aesthetic. Getting the Ralph Lauren look is all about channeling elegance and sophistication with a casual, comfortable twist. From Polo shirts to cable knit sweaters, Ralph Lauren’s signature style transcends trends and is versatile enough to work for any occasion. This article will provide tips on how to get the Ralph Lauren look for both men and women.
The Ralph Lauren Style Philosophy
At the core of Ralph Lauren’s style is a mixture of English nobility, Americana, and the rugged spirit of the Wild West. Lauren himself has said, “I don’t design clothes, I design dreams.” His dream entails an aspirational lifestyle filled with country clubs, hunting lodges, and luxurious estates. However, his designs manage to feel relatable rather than unapproachable.
Ralph Lauren conveys heritage through his brand while still feeling relevant in a modern context. He expertly balances timelessness with a subtle nod to current trends. The result is a look that feels comfortable yet refined. Lauren once remarked, “I wanted living environments that represented a world of casual elegance.” This essence of casual elegance is the crux of pulling off the Ralph Lauren aesthetic.
Key Elements of Ralph Lauren Style
There are a few key components that distinguish Ralph Lauren’s signature style:
- Preppy pieces like Polo shirts, blazers, sweaters, and loafers convey a sense of East Coast Americana.
- Nautical inspiration brought to life through navy blue and white color schemes along with maritime details like anchors, sailing flags, and ropes.
- Equestrian accents like riding boots and jodhpurs reference the world of competitive horseback riding popular among elite circles.
- Western influences like denim, leather, and cowboy hats add a rugged, outdoorsy feel.
- Neutral color palettes of black, white, tan, navy, and gray create an elegant and timeless foundation.
- Textural fabrics like corduroy, tweed, seersucker, and flannel provide visual interest.
The combination of these details creates the distinctive Ralph Lauren lifestyle aesthetic.
Getting the Ralph Lauren Look for Women
Here are some tips for women on achieving Ralph Lauren’s classic American style:
Invest in Ralph Lauren wardrobe staples
Build your wardrobe around Ralph Lauren basics like button-down shirts, cable knit sweaters, blazers, loafers, and ballet flats. Stick to crisp, well-tailored pieces in solids or patterns like gingham, tweed, and stripes. Avoid loud prints or overly trendy statement pieces. Timeless investment pieces will ensure you achieve that effortless polish intrinsic to the brand.
Mix masculine elements with feminine accents
Borrow from the boys by layering an oversized blazer over a pretty floral dress or teaming a button-down with a pleated tennis skirt. Then balance the masculine energy by cinching with a belt at your natural waist or adding delicate jewelry. This juxtaposition encapsulates Ralph Lauren’s quintessential preppy look.
Opt for casual fabrics with elegant cuts
Ralph Lauren often combines casual fabrics like denim, corduroy, and jersey with refined silhouettes. Emulate this by wearing dark skinny jeans with heels and a cashmere sweater instead of sneakers and a hoodie. Or opt for a corduroy pencil skirt with a silk blouse and ankle boots. The contrast between the fabrics and tailoring exudes a carefree sophistication.
Incorporate equestrian and nautical accents
Pay homage to Ralph Lauren’s twin inspirations by including subtle equestrian and nautical details. A striped breton top, boat neck blouse, or rope belt nods to maritime style. Jodhpurs, riding boots, and checked blazers reference the equestrian aesthetic. Use sparingly without going overboard.
Stick to a refined color palette
Ralph Lauren frequently utilizes a neutral palette of black, white, camel, navy, gray, and red. Stay within this color spectrum for easy sophistication. Pops of brighter shades can work for bags, shoes, or jewelry. Just keep the overall look subdued.
Choose quality over quantity
The Ralph Lauren woman invests in timeless wardrobe additions and cares for them properly so they last. Build your closet slowly with a few high-quality items each season rather than lots of cheap fast fashion. Take items to the tailor for the perfect fit and keep them neatly pressed. Proper care ensures your Ralph Lauren style remains polished.
Getting the Ralph Lauren Look for Men
Ralph Lauren’s menswear conveys a sense of understated luxury. Follow these tips to cultivate the designer’s quintessential aesthetic:
Start with foundational Polo pieces
A well-fitting Polo shirt in colors like navy, gray, white, or pale blue makes the ultimate staple. Pair it with flat front chinos or dark wash jeans. During cooler months, layer under a merino wool v-neck sweater or down puffer vest. Build your entire wardrobe around this timeless combination.
Invest in high-quality tailored pieces
Ralph Lauren’s suits, blazers, trousers, and button-down shirts epitomize timeless style and quality construction. Save up for a made-to-measure navy blazer, gray flannel suit, and crisp poplin shirts. Proper tailoring and luxe fabrics ensure these investment purchases last a lifetime.
Incorporate textural fabrics and patterns
Look beyond solid suits and knits by incorporating textured fabrics like corduroy, tweed, seersucker, or chambray. Houndstooth, glen plaid, argyle, and buffalo check patterns also help convey Ralph Lauren’s signature aesthetic. Just be sure patterns and texture work together harmoniously.
Accessorize with leather and knitwear
Leather accessories like belts, loafers, and satchels add a refined finish. Pair leather with cozy yet polished knitwear like shawl cardigans, half-zip pullovers, and cashmere beanies. These luxe accents complete the Ralph Lauren look.
Experiment with rugged outdoor gear
Ralph Lauren frequently incorporates workwear and outdoor gear like denim, bomber jackets, parkas, and hiking boots. Mixing these rugged elements with tailored pieces results in a sophisticated take on casual. Just avoid looking like you’re en route to a construction site.
Stick to a neutral earth-tone palette
Straying from Ralph Lauren’s signature color palette of navy, gray, tan, cream, and black can make it hard to emulate the brand’s aesthetic. Avoid bright colors or loud prints. At most, incorporate a subtle striped rugbie or checked sport coat.
5 Key Ralph Lauren Wardrobe Essentials for Women
Build your designer wardrobe around these core Ralph Lauren items for women:
1. Cable Knit Sweater
A cable knit mockneck or crewneck sweater in cashmere or cotton immediately conveys Ralph Lauren’s preppy aesthetic. Wear with skinny jeans and riding boots for casual cool or layer under a blazer with trousers for a polished desk-to-dinner look. Stick to versatile neutral shades like ivory, navy, gray, or oatmeal.
2. Breton Striped Top
Few designs epitomize nautical inspiration like the classic breton stripe. Tuck a long-sleeve cotton breton top into a flared skirt for a chic Parisian twist or knot it at the waist to make it more casual. Keep your look coastal by pairing it with white jeans or linen pants.
3. Oxford Button Down Shirt
The Oxford cloth button down in crisp white or light blue makes an iconic addition for channeling Ralph Lauren’s collegiate style. Tuck it into an A-line skirt or high-waisted jeans. During the cooler months, layer under a shrunken tweed blazer or quilted vest. Proper tailoring ensures a polished look.
4.Quilted Leather Satchel
Ralph Lauren’s accessories exude the highest craftsmanship and luxury. Invest in a versatile quilted satchel bag with equestrian-inspired harness hardware for a designer finishing touch. Wear it cross body with casual weekend wear or carry it elegantly in the crook of your arm for evening.
Channel preppy comfort with a pair of suede penny loafers updated with a slight block heel. Loafers convey refined polish with trousers or dresses yet provide the ease of a slip-on shoe. A sturdy mini stacked heel gives subtle elevation while still allowing you to briskly move about your day.
5 Key Ralph Lauren Wardrobe Essentials for Men
These cornerstones epitomize Ralph Lauren’s aesthetic for men:
1. Navy Blazer
A well-constructed navy blazer serves as the foundation for practically any outfit. Opt for a slimmer silhouette with gold crest buttons and quality construction. Pair it with gray trousers for the office then jeans on the weekend. Use it to instantly elevate any ensemble.
2. Polo Shirt
Nothing embodies effortless polish more than a well-fitting Polo shirt. The pique cotton style Ralph Lauren pioneered remains a wardrobe staple. Wear it with the collar popped to exude Ivy league cool or keep it more refined with the collar points neatly tucked.
3. White Oxford Shirt
A crisp Oxford cloth button down in stark white conveys timeless style. Make sure it properly fits in the shoulders, sleeves, and neck for optimal tailoring. Pair with a navy knit tie and gray trousers for important meetings or wear more casually with jeans on your downtime.
4. Leather Weekender Bag
For jet setting in luxury, a leather duffle bag finished with equestrian inspired details like harness straps and embossed crests makes a sophisticated statement. Use it as a gym bag for everyday or actual weekend travels. The leather develops character over time.
5. Quarter Zip Pullover
Ralph Lauren’s knitwear balances polish with laidback ease. A merino wool quarter zip style allows you to regulate temperature while maintaining a put together aesthetic. Wear as a light jacket in fall over an Oxford shirt then layer it under a down puffer once winter hits.
Common Ralph Lauren Patterns and Fabrics
Ralph Lauren incorporates patterns and textiles that convey pedigree and history. Here are some of his quintessential choices:
- Houndstooth – Classic black and white check that references menswear.
- Glen Plaid – Variation on houndstooth with an overcheck.
- Buffalo Check – Larger black and red lumberjack check.
- Tartan Plaid – Crisp intersecting stripes in colorful Scottish tartans.
- Argyle – Diamond pattern often seen on knitwear.
- Pinstripe – Thin vertical stripes that convey polish and formality.
- Nautical Stripes – White and navy Breton stripe or rope motif.
- Cotton Pique – Signature knit used for Polo shirts.
- Flannel – Soft brushed woolen often used for trousers or shirts.
- Corduroy – Vertical ribbed cotton perfect for jackets and pants.
- Chambray – Lightweight cotton material often in a denim color.
- Seersucker – Puckered lightweight cotton or linen.
- Oxford Cloth – Basketweave cotton used for Oxford shirts.
- Cashmere – Luxurious soft wool used for knitwear.
- Tweed – Rough, nubby wool emblematic of collegiate style.
Ralph Lauren artfully combines these patterns and fabrics to encapsulate different eras and symbolism into his signature all-American style.
How to Style Your Ralph Lauren Pieces
Use these essential tips when styling your Ralph Lauren wardrobe:
Pair sophisticated fabrics with casual silhouettes
An easy way to master Ralph Lauren’s aesthetic is by blending dressy fabrics with relaxed silhouettes. Try a cashmere sweater with dark skinny jeans and riding boots. Or wear a sequined silk blouse untucked over destroyed denim. This creates an upscale but approachable vibe.
Invest in high-quality layers
Lauren pieces are meant to last, so focus on investing in luxe layers like blazers, peacoats, quilted vests, and cardigans that coordinate seamlessly with your entire wardrobe. High-quality outerwear polishes any outfit.
Accessorize with scarves, gloves, and jewelry
Immaculate accessories convey old money heritage crucial to the Ralph Lauren look. A monogrammed cashmere scarf, two-tone gloves, and hammered metal cuffs add refined elegance. Just avoid extravagant costume jewelry.
Seek a tailored fit
Baggy clothing reads sloppy rather than effortlessly cool. Seek a tailored fit on button-downs, blazers, trousers, and dresses. Proper tailoring shows care and polish. Get pieces altered or custom made if needed.
Incorporate menswear inspirations
Borrow from the boys by pairing an oversized blazer with a ruffled dress or wide leg trousers with a silk camisole. Menswear accents provide structure and interest.
Play with oversized and cropped proportions. Try a billowing blouse over cigarette pants or a boxy blazer with a short A-line skirt. The interplay makes styling more intriguing.
Updating Vintage Ralph Lauren Pieces for a Modern Look
Ralph Lauren pieces stand the test of time, making vintage finds quite covetable. However, dated pieces require some tweaking to feel current again. Here are some tips:
Tailor oversized fits
Oversized menswear fits popular in the 80s and 90s can now read slouchy instead of stylish. Take pieces like blazers and button-downs to a trusted tailor to trim excess fabric for a more modern slim fit.
Long bulky hemlines on dresses, skirts, and trousers can feel frumpy. Cropping hems a few inches modernizes the silhouettes. Just be mindful of proportions and don’t over-crop.
Swap outdated buttons and hardware
Yellowed plastic buttons and tarnished metal hardware cheapens the luxurious essence of Ralph Lauren. Update with leather wrapped buttons, metal crest emblems, and brass hardware.
Remove loud prints and patterns
If an older Ralph Lauren piece features an obnoxious abstract or floral print unlikely to feel contemporary, remove it. Take the fabric to a textile designer to have a more subtle pattern or texture woven in.
Dye to update colors
Colors like mustard yellow or neon pink can firmly date pieces to past decades. Have a dry cleaner expertly dye the item a more versatile neutral hue like navy, black, cream, or gray.
10 Ways to Channel Ralph Lauren Style on a Budget
Ralph Lauren’s luxurious price points aren’t accessible for everyone. Use these tips to emulate his aesthetic on a budget:
Shop Ralph Lauren’s outlets and sales
You can often find previous season Ralph Lauren pieces at discounted prices by shopping factory outlet locations and end-of-season sales. Sign up for email promotions and scour clearance racks.
Seek vintage finds
Check out local vintage and consignment boutiques in affluent areas as you may find quality Ralph Lauren items in great condition for fractions of retail prices. Thrift stores can yield treasures too.
Mix high and low
Invest in a few luxe items like well-made blazers, cashmere sweaters, and leather bags. Then fill out the rest of your looks with less expensive basics from mall brands or fast fashion retailers.
Try Polo Ralph Lauren sister brands
The Polo Ralph Lauren company owns accessible brands like Chaps and Lauren Ralph Lauren that offer similar styles at lower price points. Shop these to build your wardrobe for less.
Select accessories wisely
Quality leather belts, loafers, and satchels instantly lift basics like shirts and dresses. Seek out Ralph Lauren accessories purchased prudently on sale or go for inspired dupes.
Seek unbranded classics
Shop stores known for timeless basics to find comparable staples to Ralph Lauren at a lower cost. Places like Gap, Banana Republic, and J. Crew are great options.
Choose natural fibers
Stick to quality natural materials like wool, cotton, linen, and silk. They’ll wear better over time than synthetic blends regardless of price point.
Take proper care
Care for items properly by hand washing, line drying, and storing items to prevent damage. A little TLC will keep even inexpensive pieces looking luxe.
Learn DIY mending
Rather than replacing worn items, mend holes, re-stitch hems, polish scuffs, and reapply dye. DIY care makes pieces last much longer.
Borrow and swap
Trade or loan key statement pieces with stylish friends and family to refresh your look. This allows you to periodically cycle in covetable designer items.
How to Authenticate Real Ralph Lauren Pieces
Unfortunately, Ralph Lauren is one of the most counterfeited luxury brands. Use these tips to determine authenticity:
- Examine fabric quality – Real Ralph Lauren uses luxe textiles that feel substantial and drape beautifully. Fakes tend to be made from cheap, light polyester.
- Inspect craftsmanship – Genuine pieces have perfectly straight, neat stitching rather than loose threads and uneven seams. Zippers and buttons should glide smoothly.
- Check for accurate logos– Counterfeits often have missing logos, poorly proportioned horses, and fonts and colors that are slightly off.
- Look for clear manufacturer labels – Authentic labels will be cleanly printed or embroidered with accurate spelling and numbers. Irregular labels indicate a fake.
- Assess weight and hardware – Things like buttons, chains, and insignias on real Ralph Lauren have heft. Flimsy hardware is a red flag.
- Consider price point – Drastically discounted Ralph Lauren is likely too good to be true. Verified