Utterly sophisticated and always chic, Ralph Lauren designs sleek, elegant clothing for woman. The spring/summer 2011 collection was inspired by the American Wild West; leather, metal, and plenty of beaded fringe tempered by white silk and lace. Browse the style guide below to catch up on the latest inspiration and must-have items from this legendary designer.
The entire collection orbited around the central theme of the American Wild West, with tan leather complementing pristine white silk, wide metal buckles on leather belts, fringe on all sorts of clothing, peasant-inspired accents and billowing prairie skirts. Ralph Lauren has used this as inspiration before, and he knows how to do it well. He kept it chic and modern without delving too deep into potential comical aspects (cowboy hats) and the predominantly white palette provides a subdued canvas for the fringed and beaded accessories. As always, the heavily masculine inspiration is tempered with delicate feminine detail for a sensual style and the outfits are sharply sophisticated. Or, as his website proclaims, this season is all about “Rustic Romance.”
An essential not only in this summer’s collection but in the official Ralph Lauren Style Guide, the white blouse endlessly reinvents itself to suit the changing fashions. This year the blouse is light, loose and delicate with lace and transparent panels for a romantic look. Go for one with plenty of ruffles and a high neck for the ultimate in western influence. If you do not like the blouse look, pick his crocheted vest or ruffled cotton camisole for a subtler take on the trend. Pair with matching white bottoms and leather and silver accents, or dress it down with jeans.
Also a staple year after year in his collection, the slouchy white shorts have a comfortable, loose fit and look amazing paired with the western accents and brown leathers. Extend them into cargo pants or trousers if you wish, but keep them white or off-white. To make the most of the theme, pick up a pair of the shorts with fringe detail and pair with a formfitting top, big leather belt and stunning heels.
You cannot overdo the lace this year. The collection featured it on the beloved Maxi skirt in a prairie-inspired style. His skirts are exceptionally fluid and full, with plenty of lace and crocheted overlay to produce that signature feminine feel. Pair it with your white blouse and with a brown belt and shoes for a look straight from the runway. Or pick up a blouse with lace detail and a high neckline with scalloped edging, a crocheted cover-up or vest, or a dress overlaid with lace. The possibilities are endless; the key is to keep it light and romantic and pair it with heavier accessories.
Whether they are in the accessories or clothing, these two fabrics are a must. His collection is filled with textured leather and smooth suede. The brown leather belt with metal buckle is an absolute necessity for those looking to mimic the style, as is a pair of brown strappy sandals with chunky heels in either fabric. The leather jacket can be in brown or white, and make sure it has a bit of fringe detail for an authentic Western style. For a not-too-subtle punch of leather, go for a big tote bag with fringe and braided detail. Or to get the same look for much less, pick up the same style bag but without the leather; just make sure it is a rich brown or tan color.
Antiqued and burnished silver accented the brown leather on the belts, earrings and shoes. The western details, like bulls’ heads, were rendered in precious metals on the buckles, while the earrings were made of antiqued silver. The heels on the brown shoes were textured silver metals and the thick brown leather choker that graced so many models had heavy metal detailing. The juxtaposition of metal and fabric produced great texture and that rough, gritty attitude. Paired with the diaphanous lacy detailing and soft white fabric, it creates a romanticized western feel.
When found on clothing, the metallic sheen looks wonderful paired with the brown leathers and suedes. Try mixing a silver metallic dress with a brown leather jacket and heels, or a metallic skirt or shorts with a white blouse and leather jacket. For a hint of metal, go for a slouchy Hobo bag in sterling silver or heels in the same color.
Keep it romantic with a fine sheen of Western laid overtop for that signature Ralph Lauren style this summer.