Cataloging The Good Life: Polo Ralph Lauren, Spring 1977

Last week we posted that neo-prep is back at Ralph Lauren. Today we journey back 40 years ago, when the brand was first beginning to stage lavish fantasy shoots done on location. These would reach their apex in the mid to late ’80s with, for example, 20-page ad narrative spreads in magazines such as Architectural Digest.

The spring ’77 catalog has few Ivy elements, being more focused on RL’s Old Hollywood and English Gentleman inspiration sources. And while many of the images will be familiar, according to frequent comment-leaver “GS,” who provided the scans, they have not appeared anywhere on the Internet all together. Stay tuned for more in the future. — CC

26 Comments on "Cataloging The Good Life: Polo Ralph Lauren, Spring 1977"

  1. I miss my Jeep.


  2. I was never chauffered around in mine while wearing an off-white dinner jacket, smoking a cigar, but I miss mine too.

    And that image is hardly even the most (entertainingly) ridiculous one in this collection: they’re all brilliant, but Ralph himself on the beach shirtless – save for a down vest – takes the cake.

    The captions, by the way, are (intentionally or otherwise) quite apropos to the recent ‘Fake It ‘Til You Make It’ post.

  3. Mitchell S. | March 20, 2018 at 2:47 pm |

    Amazing how everything seemed wider in the 70s: lapels, pant cuffs, ties, and trouser bottoms. Thankfully, no bell-bottom pants, loud plaids, or double-knit polyester leisure suits.

  4. Someone’s put together a seemingly-endless RL ads diversion, scroll horizontally:

  5. Flo,
    All those ads served to remind me why I have never once been tempted to resort buying or wearing anything but authentic Ivy. How fortunate for us that the basic Ivy items are still available.

  6. Thrifty Trad | March 20, 2018 at 4:08 pm |

    Hear! Hear!
    A couple of blue OCBDs, a couple of white ones, chinos, gray flannel slacks, some repp ties, a herringbone jacket, a navy blazer,and a pair of Weejuns and one can imagine oneself back in the Heyday. Who needs Ralph Lauren’s exaggerated fantasies?

  7. whiskeydent | March 20, 2018 at 4:24 pm |

    In the next to last image, the idle rich head to the board meeting where they will complain about their trust fund investments.

  8. The model walking the horse was everywhere in the seventy’s and early eighties. He was perfect for RL’s profile and most every other designer. He looked the part!

  9. Charlottesville | March 20, 2018 at 5:52 pm |

    I had forgotten how wide everything was then, as Mitchell S. has noted above. I was on more of an LL Bean budget in 1977, but I had a few Polo items. I think the mid 80s were the best period for Polo. My work clothes came almost exclusively from Brooks Brothers at that time, but I liked to shop at Polo too. And whether you think it is exaggerated, wannabe styling or not, I would still love to have one of those late 80s or 90s camel hair polo coats with the mile-wide lapels.

  10. Wide leg trousers only look good for those whose waistlines measure under 30 inches. Everyone else just looks unflattered.

  11. Ralph Lauren aesthetics is pre-Ivy heyday,In his world 30s and early 40s American high society is never ending.

  12. Fortingale | March 21, 2018 at 2:43 am |

    @Lexium & Thrifty Trad:
    As a born and bred New Englander, Ivy style has always meant simplicity and minimalism for me. I too am pleased that there are so many authentic offerings available from Brooks, Press, O’Connell’s, The Andover Shop, and other purveyors, that I feel no temptation to consider Ralph Lauren’s offerings.

  13. I, commenter | March 21, 2018 at 8:01 am |

    I always found something ‘odd’ or ‘off’ about RL – the ads in particular. it was always just a little too over the top and not worn right.. kind of like how Europeans keep their barbour jackets clean and pressed…. but a couple of times I have bought RL because they hit the mark.. I will (admittedly, begrudgingly) say that the quality is always outstanding.

  14. This European has tried to clean and and press his waxed Barbour jacket, but found that the wax makes a terrible mess of his wife’s cherished clothes iron. But you know how prissy we Europeans are. And before slings and arrows begin raining down on me, I’m only kidding.

  15. Trevor Jones | March 21, 2018 at 11:44 am |

    Looking at these early ads it’s easy to see why Polo took off into the megabrand it did. It’s easy to look back and see how well they marketed the dream life for those living the normal life at a time when those living the lifestyle depicted by RL could only do so because they came from the right family. Lauren puts it out there for anyone to have and says “You can live (or, more aptly, pretend to live) like these people too.” If you can sell the image, the idea, the product sells itself…and he did that brilliantly.

  16. Jordan Mitchell | March 21, 2018 at 1:02 pm |

    Trevor Jones,
    But those people in the ads were models,not real people.
    Who would want to imitate imitations?

  17. Miles Coverdale | March 21, 2018 at 1:30 pm |

    I’ll go one further than Fortingale. Among the heuristics that guide my judgment when someone is attempting to make a “first impression” upon me is an automatic demerit for any display of that awful, fatuous Polo logo. Its appearance isn’t dispositive, but it weighs heavily. Call me superficial, but I believe one’s exterior is a relatively trustworthy indication of his interior.

  18. Trevor Jones | March 21, 2018 at 1:36 pm |

    The point I was going for had less to do with the specifics. Like I said, he’s selling an idea, not necessarily the real thing. To the people the idea is being sold to, it doesn’t really matter if the madras on the patchwork shirt they are wearing is as authentic as a heyday one from, say, Brooks just as it doesn’t matter whether the people being depicted actually live that life or not. Rather, it’s the idea on a larger scale moreso than the nuts and bolts.

  19. Old School Tie | March 21, 2018 at 2:20 pm |

    Because Yanks are the true guardians of all that is Barbour. In my part of Europe – England – the home of the Barbour, I see no evidence of the accusations levelled by I, commenter. I demand, sir, that you qualify the term ‘European’….

  20. @TrevorJones “Lauren puts it out there for anyone to have and says ‘You can live (or, more aptly, pretend to live) like these people too’.”

    Perfectly said, sir. The man himself [who based his entire empire on a false name “pretending” to be someone other than himself] launched the greatest quality lifestyle marketing scheme of any generation. Ever.

    There’s not been a marketing master to capture our longings, our times, the underlying psychology of his target customer, the perfect price points across his entire product line, the high quality of the goods, the sumptuousness of his global bricks & mortar investments, all the while minding our ever-shifting demographics… better than Ralph Lipschitz.

  21. I, commenter | March 24, 2018 at 1:33 pm |

    ” I demand, sir, that you qualify the term ‘European’…”
    “the continent’ in the colloquial sense. English have always had a sense of being of, but not part of, “Europe”
    @Mitate – Europeans wear barbours like fashion items they don’t want to damage… that’s the point.

  22. The paragraph length copy in image #6 is interesting. Openly referencing “Ivy League” and claiming to be the new standard. Bold.

  23. How did those four gents fit in that tiny helicopter?

  24. Michael Brady | April 4, 2018 at 3:39 pm |

    One of the occasional posters here worked at that store in Cleveland…Knickerbockers. Jim (the poster) and Harvey were the staff and did a fabulous job with merchandising and selling. Alas, like almost every store of it’s ilk, it is no more.

  25. No photo resemblance of a Kennedy flipping his Jeep and leaving a girl permanently injured?

  26. elder prep | April 12, 2019 at 8:02 am |

    I preferred the 1980’s winter Polo clothing with its British influence. What’s shown above does appear to be superficial.

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