So Bad That It’s Good? Or Just Plain Good?

So Bad That It’s Good? Or Just Plain Good?

ralph lauren polo bear sweater and corduroys

There are some things in life that they are so bad that they are good.  Almost irresistible, in fact.  Perhaps you could argue that some of today’s pop music belongs in this category (although I will say that most of it just flat out sucks).  Staples of the Philadelphia diet such as cheese whiz and scrapple are certainly so bad that they are good, amazing actually.  But let’s not leave apparel out of the mix.

In the years of my affinity towards clothing there have been numerous things I have worn that have been so bad that they were good.  This bright orange jump suit I wore in high school comes to mind.  It certainly irritated the powers that be at my school, but they couldn’t say much because it was still technically within the dress code.  On a more tasteful note, there is Ralph Laurens Polo Bear sweater.  There have been a number of renditions over the years. I’ve heard rumors of the older versions catching nice sums on eBay, although not as hefty as the Indian chief’s head from ’94 (please #menswear gods, make Ralph Lauren remake that sweater, but in navy).  This year’s bear version has the bear wearing a button down underneath a sweater, paired with jeans and what looks to be a Blackwatch duffel coat.  It has taken all of my will power to not acquire this thing, however, I am sure that I will eventually breakdown and make the purchase.   ralph lauren polo bear sweater with duffel coatLast year’s version, which I did acquire, had the bear wearing jeans and an American flag sweater.  The belt is of a decidedly western style, in typical RL fashion.  The sweater is absurd, there is no way around it.  Let’s be honest, you are wearing a sweater with a picture of a bear wearing a sweater…  Which makes wearing the sweater almost unavoidably absurd.  But at the end of the day, I love the sweater, partly for its absurdity.  It is a statement piece, if you will.

ralph lauren polo bear sweaterralph lauren polo bear sweater with loafersWhen worn well, it can be a great sweater, an amazing sweater.  Its cotton/linen blend allows it to be worn year round, as far as I’m concerned.  The Polo bear sweater looks best when paired with pretty simple things.  It goes well with textures, but not so much patterns.  Like many statement items, the sweater serves as the focal point of the ensemble so it is best to base the rest of what you are wearing around the sweater.

ralph lauren polo bear sweater with sweatpantsralph lauren polo bear sweater with oxford button downIn both looks I kept things the same on top, the sweater over a white oxford button down. However, I changed up everything else.  For one look I paired the sweater with some of those ‘athleisure’ type sweatpants (to run to the corner store, I don’t really believe in wearing sweatpants in public outside the gym or other athletic facility).  This is certainly a more casual look.  For a different look I paired the sweater with some blue corduroys, a shearling coat and some suede Jay Butlers.  I like the latter look more, it is more formal and more put together.  The colors of the ensemble also go with the colors of the sweater exceptionally well.

polo bear sweater with shearling coatThe real point of this post is the concept of so bad that it’s good.  The Ralph Lauren Polo bear sweater is just the tool I used to discuss the concept.  Whether or not you think the sweater is bad, good, absurd or something else is really up to you.  I love the sweater, but recognize it as being absurd and ridiculous.  But that is part of why I love it.  Every wardrobe needs a few pieces like this.  I am sure you have a few of these type of items in your closet.  That said, what are things that you would class as ‘so bad that it’s good’?



  1. Hey Justin,

    I have to agree that it’s bad, and you make it look good. It looks great with the shearling. I have to admit surprise at your willingness to run to the corner store in sweatpants…while I know you hate jeans, that might be a better choice than sweatpants.

    I wear lounge pants as pajamas, and on a few occasions have done the corner store run in them (early morning after realizing there’s no milk for my daughter’s cereal). Some of the nicer patterns hide the fact that they are lounge pants, especially if worn with something that covers the drawstring. They might fit in the so bad it’s good category, since they really are comfortable.

  2. Your Sir are montebank!
    Your choice of clothes are classic, absurd, dysfunctional and wondrous!
    You are to be applauded. I also have a penchant for the giddy, happier and more optimistic 80’s dress and style. Love the bear. Need one now. Remember them at the time. I have a ludicrous pair of “go to hell pants” Ralph, beige with pheasants and ducks on. Love em. They are met with secret hilarity and brave observation after about two or three days at work.
    I remember selling Moschino suits with eyes on and iceberg sweaters which left anything Ralph did in the shade.

    Keep up the good work Sir!

  3. Hello you Fine Young Gentleman!

    I am currently living in a part of GA (NOT ATLANTA) where people at work look at me like a three breasted women when I decide to wear don a simple outfit consisting of a CK shirt, CK sport coat, trousers that are not the same fabric as the sports coat, a tie and some double monks.

    That being said, It makes me so sad to see the current state of menswear, especially amongst men in their 20s and 30s. Thank you so much for all of the styling advice and inspiration to aspire to dress like a true gentleman. I have read many of your blogs, I’m only commenting on this one as it is the most recent. I plan on getting some of your shoes and enjoy getting a sense of your remarkable personality when reading your blogs. Oh yeah, I might have to closely replicate your christmas red velvet/green corduroy outfit. Cheers