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Occupying an entire block of the Upper East Side’s Madison Avenue, Ralph Lauren’s empire is hard to miss. Among the individual stores, which include spaces for his upscale Black and Purple Labels and pint-size designs for kids and babies, this flagship location is the mecca for Ralph Lauren’s particular brand of American luxury. The multilevel space displays many of Lauren’s collections: Ralph Lauren, Ralph Lauren Collection, RLX, and Polo Ralph Lauren. The higher-end pieces all mix a contemporary take on East Coast prep—think tweeds, herringbones, and cashmeres in conservative silhouettes and neutral colors—with Lauren’s signature equestrian motif. The RLX label, which carries seasonal fitness essentials in the form of high-performance athletic gear, combines style with functionality through waterproof and breathable fabrics. The brand’s iconic oxfords, polos, and pullovers still take up considerable floor space, thanks to their enduring design and durable craftsmanship, but the more recent accessories lines (shoes, sunglasses, and leather handbags) have updated the otherwise reserved look of the label.Sales
Fall/winter and spring/summer sales are usually held twice a year.
Spring 2005 featured an array of sophisticated suiting perfect for brides who want to wear the traditional color, but in a nontraditional style. Expect to see flowy white pantsuits and silky linen knee-length skirt suits that you can wear long after you've tied the knot.Women's Clothing
You can count on the purveyor of prep-school fashion for the perfect blazer—and pretty much anything plaid or tweed. But Ralph Lauren never fails to serve up some surprises each season, as well, like a camel hair full skirt, a wool-cashmere bouclé jacket, a washed-cashmere herringbone double-breasted jacket. All of Ralph’s lines are represented in the West Village boutique—vintage, Collection, and Black and Blue labels—meaning there’s something for everyone, price-wise. But not stylewise. Looking for a power suit or glamorous gown? Go uptown. This shop is more about casual chic—we liked a perfect-for-fall chocolate-brown corduroy blazer with leather trim and elbow patches. Into vests? Get a puffy one at a pretty price, or the goatskin, which costs as much as a PowerBook. Preppies will delight in the wall of wide-wale corduroys in a rainbow of colors (each with a contrasting ribbon belt).Men's Clothing
Polo, the Mansion’s tougher little brother, supplies prepsters with cabled sweaters, cardigans, crewnecks, pleated and flat-front trousers, cashmere sweatpants, and, of course, the iconic polo shirts. For elegant, luxurious dress clothes, check out the Purple Label—but beware: Leather coats start at $3,200. There's activewear from RLX, too. The merchandising mix is the same in the West Village men's store: well-edited vintage pieces (messenger-style leather bags, cowboy boots, and belts) alongside choices from all Ralph labels, including RLX. There are cashmere rugby shirts for the preppy set, exquisite suits and shoes for power brokers, fringed suede jackets, and snap-front shirts for urban cowboys.Cuff Links
Silver knots go for $200, while enameled sterling-silver Purple Label links start at $275. If that’s not luxe enough, check out the antique twenties cuff links and the monogram options. It’s like Gatsby without the moral lessons.Formalwear
Ralph Lauren’s Purple Label tuxedo comes in superluxurious wool and silk ($5,295), and the slim-cut Black Label tuxedo starts at $2,150. Any of three Polo tuxedo styles are comparative bargains, at $1,495.