Not unlike the American West or the English countryside, Africa and its safari themes comprise an entire world within the Ralph Lauren brand and are a constant source of inspiration to each RL label.
(Ralph Lauren on Safari, Rizzoli, 2007)
Of all the pieces that make up this world, the safari shirt is one of the most important. Available every season in a range of different cuts and materials, the safari shirt has rugged roots that allow some of Ralph Lauren’s most iconic women’s style themes, like utility and the contrast of masculine and feminine, to be expressed.
Defined most prominently by large button-flap or bellows pockets at the chest, the safari shirt is derived from a similarly styled military jacket worn in the late 19th century by the British forces in India and Africa as well as by the US soldiers in the Spanish-American War. By the turn of the century, adventurers had taken to wearing this jacket in the African bush, which is how it came to be known as the bush jacket and the safari jacket.
Ralph Lauren’s vision of the safari is romantic and idealized but rooted in practicality, and it is that perfect balance that makes the safari shirt so essential. Dressed up with a sweeping skirt and concho belt, its effect is dramatic; dressed down with jeans and boots, it’s work-ready without forsaking style. Every season brings a new interpretation—be it in light linen, a soft color palette or a slightly updated silhouette—and it is this versatility, along with its colorful history and iconic imagery, that puts it in the lineup of RL Classics.