Upon the completion of my long fought battle with a psychology term paper I returned to the suburbs of our quaint menswear community only to learn that Rugby Ralph Lauren will be shuttered following the holiday season. Now, I've read the comments of everyone from Ivy Style to WASPy and seen the range of thought regarding this brand. Not that I'm in league with those who do this semi-professionally, but I wanted to add a balanced viewpoint from which I'm sure most of us resided. That is, not everything they made was great, or even good, but they did do a couple of key pieces that were remarkable and that no one else would probably even touch (that is, until Rugby made it such a huge hit that it became fashionable, more on that in a second). So, no, I'm not going to wear a tuxedo jacket with sweat pants and bean boots, but I will use some of their more clever and subtle items.
Now, I have a lot of Ralph Lauren, I mean a lot of it, I have piles of polos and an obscene amount of oxfords (well, maybe not as obscene as HTJ's collection). When Rugby launched I saw it like most did as a teeny bopper Abercrombie competitor and never visited the store while I lived near it in DC. However, once they launched their skull and bones motifs and a line of proper suiting they caught my eye. Now I vaguely know that skull and bones were in vogue for a while and now they're probably not. I enjoy living outside of the fashion world of what's popular and what's not because then it doesn't have the potential to taint or doubt my views of what I truly like. But I do know that I've liked the skull and bones pattern for long enough to still have doodles in my school notebooks of what eventually became my self-ascribed logo that I eventually had made into a signet ring and stitched onto some velvet slippers (I still plan to review them at some point, although I think it's been a year or two since I've received them). I've attempted to explain why, but honestly it makes no difference although there is certainly a memento mori aspect about it. If that makes me defiantly unfashionable, even better. And I mean that as unsanctimoniously as possible while still reserving the option to be so should the need arise.
I had been wanting this wallet for quite some time before I actually bought it, for one, because I almost never wear black (outside of a tuxedo and an occasional polo), and two because I just wasn't sure it was warranted given the much much more expensive Ralph Lauren wallet I already had from a few Christmases ago. However, given the recent news of it's closing, I logged into my Ralphie Lifshitz account and added it to my digital shopping cart. However, I also imposed a few rules on myself about this item given the two conjectures I made before I bought it. It would be relegated to times where I was (a) wearing black, (b) wearing my velvet skull slippers, or (c) wearing a tuxedo. I got it on sale of course, marked down from the original $65 to a more acceptable to my collegiate checking account $38. I probably would have bought it anyway, but having an extra $27 almost nets me a handle of Famous Grouse and I'm due for a refill anyway.
I should say I've purchased a few Rugby items over the years. I used to have several of their original small skull polos, but I've since outgrown them and they can now be spotted on my younger brothers at any given moment. I have their black skull and bones tie, which I've only worn once and bought mostly for the collectibility factor I ascribed to it. I ascribe a lot of things, it keeps life interesting. The one Rugby item I get the most use out of is their cotton and grosgrain belt, skull and boned, no doubt. It fits me and my belt loops perfectly. Some of you know what I'm talking about, having to wear certain belts with certain pants due to width issues. However, this belt fits all pants well. It also adds just the right amount of iconic heritage to my classic collegiate look... joking! I haven't been through the menswear marketing speak summer re-education camp like many of my peers so I wouldn't know anything about that.
It does look great however, and navy/gold can go with anything from the bright summer colors I choose to blind people with to the still relatively (compared to hoodies and jeans anyway) loud as hell winter stuff I have in my closet. I seriously wear it almost everyday because it's that versatile. It is possible I enjoy torturing people with my sartor? Yes, but only when they deserve it. Which is always. Actually, I take that back, my New Year's Resolution is to be a bit more kind to the bourgeois (here, regardless of actual wealth, since we obviously know class and taste can be had at any budget) since I know they'll never understand us, but then again, noblesse oblige, so you know, perhaps not. Okay, enough of that. I will be sad to see Rugby go because of the few things that they did really well. I hope that they will find a way to incorporate some of the Rugby design ethos into the PRL line to create a balanced, more realistic approach to our choice of clothing that still retains a bit of fun character. If you're with me or against me, I care not, but feel free to discuss.