Wednesday, August 3, 2011

ll bean signature

My love affair with L.L. Bean goes back almost as far as I can remember. Growing up in Maine, my world was saturated with the stuff.  On brisk fall mornings, our L.L. Bean fleeces kept us warm while we waited for the school bus.  Those same backpacks that dwarfed our then-little bodies would be with us through thick and thin, from kindergarten to senior year.  Our mothers undoubtedly carried the iconic canvas totes, each with their own monogram (not unlike our backpacks) and stuffed to the rafters with god-knows-what (also not unlike our backpacks).  You can't get too much of a good thing.  Our moms knew this and we knew it, too.

THE classic L.L. Bean Nordic Check by Foster Huntington
In an uncharacteristic bout of kleptomania, I stole a classic L.L. Bean nordic check sweater from my mom's (or maybe it was my dad's?) closet when I was about 18.  It is vintage '80s, amazing, and still in regular rotation in my wardrobe.  Side note: that awesome picture above?  I found it on a google search, but it introduced me to this great blog, A Restless Transplant, written by fellow Colby alum Foster Huntington.  My favorite part of that picture, of course, is that it was taken on Colby's campus! Amazing.  I could not be happier about this.  Furthermore, I cannot think of a better place to wear classic L.L. Bean garb than on the campus of a small liberal arts school in Maine.

My obsession with the Bean grew in the second grade when my best friend, Jenny, and I lived for the day that our faces would grace the pages of the L.L. Bean catalog.  Seriously.  You only had to see us practicing our modeling skills at recess to know we meant business.  In our defense, back in 1992, L.L. Bean catalogs actually did feature pictures of real customers wearing their apparel (or maybe that's just what our moms told us to appease our egos).  We both had the fleeces and backpacks; she had the obligatory yellow lab. As far as we were concerned, we were golden.
wicked good moccasins 
Sadly, my second grade dreams never came true. Jenny, on the other hand, is now a model in New York City.  However, if L.L. Bean had still been using pictures of real customers in its catalog when I went to college, I'm pretty sure my friends and I would have made it.  Wicked good moccasins (pictured above), aka the most comfortable slipper in the world, and canvas totes were a part of our everyday wardrobe as we schlepped our books to class in this bizarro world where fashionable equaled sweatpants, polo shirts, and L.L. Bean accessories. 
bean boots 
My most recent L.L. Bean reclamation (can that be a nice word for theft?) are my mom's Bean Boots.  A testament to the quality and enduring style of L.L. Bean products, I took them when I found myself needing sturdy snow boots during my stint as a ski instructor in Vail. Unsurprisingly, all of the other instructors from the East Coast wore them religiously too. Whenever I break them out, they remind me of going ice skating and sledding in bitterly cold Maine temps.  This is funny, because obviously I wasn't wearing these boots (my feet weren't that big yet).  But I guess my mom wore them enough for me to associate them with all things winter.

Speaking of enduring style, L.L. Bean's new (well, relatively new) Signature line has it.  Their pieces are a bit more tailored and fashion-forward than the clothing in their regular line, but hold true to good ol' Leon Leonwood's values of high-quality, reliable materials and classic, functional styling.  I made the difficult decision to share only a few of my favorite Signature pieces with you, but don't distress!  You can see the entire line here

flying duck sweater - could be the next nordic classic
wool tweed hacking jacket, jacquard skirt,
16" Maine hunting shoe ( love this!!!), zipper duffle
beacon poplin jacket
pebbled leather clutch
silk square scarf
L.L. Bean Signature feels like a prestigious university and hunting lodge from the 1940s collided to form this luxurious, yet rugged clothing line.  The traditional, American sensibilities of the line also remind me of the days of steamer trunk travel, of this era of Americana from the turn of the century to the 1940s that has really been capturing my imagination as of late.  It's a little Gatsby, like if Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby had snuck away on a fly-fishing vacation to Maine, which they probably should have done anyway to save them from their sordid fate.  Literary tangents aside, I am quite enamored of this stuff and am looking forward to having the chance to try it on while in Maine.  Only one day to go! But who's counting, really?


  1. Wow, I can't even get the words out. You must know that I am obsessed with LLBean (I just got a bike there this weekend!). If you are going to purchase a pair of Bean Boots I highly recommend the shearling lined mocs -- I never take mine off in the winter. My mom got me the pebbled leather clutch for christmas last year and I planned my outfits around it for a good 2 months after. wow, love all of this. oh and did you know that Beans sells Hudson Bay blankets? just sayin.

  2. Thanks, Hannah! I'm oh, so jealous that you own the pebbled leather clutch! I DID know they sell Hudson Bay blankets, the one I had growing up was from there...I think my mom got rid of it though, sigh.

  3. Absolutely obsessed with those slippers. Everyone in my family has probably been through 2 pairs each :):)