Buttoned Up

The new Ralph Lauren Home Heritage Icons bedding collection reintroduces classic men’s shirting fabrics to the bedroom

In a sense, the story of Ralph Lauren Home is the story of combining the unexpected to make something new, yet refined, that feels as if it has always existed. Since launching his full home collection—a first for a clothing designer—in 1983, Ralph Lauren has designed a channeled leather bed, inspired by the upholstery of one of his cars. He once made a steel chair covered with tweed from an old hacking jacket, and did the same for a French gilt chair in gingham. Even his first piece, a highboy, was covered in tartan. “I like to break the rules,” Mr. Lauren has said, by way of explanation. “I always have.”

Perhaps nothing illustrates that better than his approach to bedding. “When I got married, my wife and I went looking for sheets and could only find horrible polyester ones,” he says, “so I made blue, pink, and yellow ones in oxford cotton, with buttoned-down pillowcases, like the shirts.” Unable to find what he was looking for for his own home, he pioneered the development of oxford and chambray bedding, which took two years to perfect using looms especially created to weave cloth into sheeting.

It’s an approach echoed in our new Heritage Icons collection, which includes five different bedding options, each inspired by men’s shirting fabrics and crafted in fine mills.

CHAMBRAY

Drawing on that hardest-working fabric, chambray, the first option harkens back to the earliest days of Ralph Lauren Home. (In one ad, a model clad in a buffalo check shirt sits next to a blanket in a complementary plaid, atop a bed clad in chambray.) Chambray takes its name from Cambrai, the French town where the plain-weave fabric was invented in the 16th century, but by the 20th century, it was as all-American as denim. In 1901, the Navy began issuing it to sailors, whose working-class manner helped give rise to the term blue-collar. Today, chambray sheets connote ease and comfort, ideal for a night’s rest, while offering a room warm, considered informality.

SHIRTING STRIPE

This timeless pattern—which British officers wore in the Bengal region of India during the 1700s—features alternating stripes of roughly a quarter-inch thickness that always look smart, whether on your favorite dress shirt or on your sheets. The pattern is especially versatile, as anyone who has worn a tie with such a shirt would know—handy to keep in mind when choosing a blanket or shams to go with it.

TATTERSALL

Ralph Lauren has regularly turned to England for inspiration, and this Icon is a great case in point. Tattersall, defined by the crossing of long colored lines across a typically cream background, is named for the patterned horse blankets used by an auction house in Suffolk, England. That house’s founder? Richard Tattersall, who got into the thoroughbred business back in 1766. His house remains in business today. Mr. Lauren has often used the pattern in equestrian-inspired collections, and this bedding invites a similar mindset, recalling the rustic tradition and heritage of the English countryside.

TUXEDO PLEAT

Ralph Lauren has long understood how to transcend the tuxedo’s rigid reputation—after all, he pioneered the move of wearing a tux jacket with jeans and cowboy boots. And while these sheets convey a certain sophistication and a formal quality that is inherent in all things tuxedo, their appeal is all about creating your own unexpected pairing. Just as a tuxedo shirt is essentially a plain white shirt with a little something extra, think of this poplin cotton bedding as something similar: an elegant, elevated take on the classic white sheet.

OXFORD & OXFORD STRIPE

This collection ends where it all began, with bedding crafted from the same oxford as our iconic shirt, a pioneering statement then as now. The preppy staple owes its origins to the 19th century, when a Scottish mill—whose name has been lost over the years—created fabrics named for four elite universities: Harvard, Yale, Cambridge, and, yes, Oxford. Only the last of these caught on, thanks to its strong, durable weave, which only gets better with wear. That applies to this bedding, too, which is designed to age gracefully and offer the enduring appeal of your favorite button-down. And, as always, the pillows include a charming finishing touch: that shirt-style buttoned closure.

CHAMBRAY

Drawing on that hardest-working fabric, chambray, the first option harkens back to the earliest days of Ralph Lauren Home. (In one ad, a model clad in a buffalo check shirt sits next to a blanket in a complementary plaid, atop a bed clad in chambray.) Chambray takes its name from Cambrai, the French town where the plain-weave fabric was invented in the 16th century, but by the 20th century, it was as all-American as denim. In 1901, the Navy began issuing it to sailors, whose working-class manner helped give rise to the term blue-collar. Today, chambray sheets connote ease and comfort, ideal for a night’s rest, while offering a room warm, considered informality.

SHIRTING STRIPE

This timeless pattern—which British officers wore in the Bengal region of India during the 1700s—features alternating stripes of roughly a quarter-inch thickness that always look smart, whether on your favorite dress shirt or on your sheets. The pattern is especially versatile, as anyone who has worn a tie with such a shirt would know—handy to keep in mind when choosing a blanket or shams to go with it.

TATTERSALL

Ralph Lauren has regularly turned to England for inspiration, and this Icon is a great case in point. Tattersall, defined by the crossing of long colored lines across a typically cream background, is named for the patterned horse blankets used by an auction house in Suffolk, England. That house’s founder? Richard Tattersall, who got into the thoroughbred business back in 1766. His house remains in business today. Mr. Lauren has often used the pattern in equestrian-inspired collections, and this bedding invites a similar mindset, recalling the rustic tradition and heritage of the English countryside.

TUXEDO PLEAT

Ralph Lauren has long understood how to transcend the tuxedo’s rigid reputation—after all, he pioneered the move of wearing a tux jacket with jeans and cowboy boots. And while these sheets convey a certain sophistication and a formal quality that is inherent in all things tuxedo, their appeal is all about creating your own unexpected pairing. Just as a tuxedo shirt is essentially a plain white shirt with a little something extra, think of this poplin cotton bedding as something similar: an elegant, elevated take on the classic white sheet.

OXFORD & OXFORD STRIPE

This collection ends where it all began, with bedding crafted from the same oxford as our iconic shirt, a pioneering statement then as now. The preppy staple owes its origins to the 19th century, when a Scottish mill—whose name has been lost over the years—created fabrics named for four elite universities: Harvard, Yale, Cambridge, and, yes, Oxford. Only the last of these caught on, thanks to its strong, durable weave, which only gets better with wear. That applies to this bedding, too, which is designed to age gracefully and offer the enduring appeal of your favorite button-down. And, as always, the pillows include a charming finishing touch: that shirt-style buttoned closure.

Paul L. Underwood is the former executive editor of RalphLauren.com. He is based in Austin, Texas, where he lives with his wife and two children.
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