Items from Our Catalog, 1982 and 1983

I thought I’d found a vintage LL Bean catalog at the Goodwill last week, but a closer look revealed something a bit strange.  A hound wearing a bra?  Now that’s one product I’m pretty sure I’d never seen at LL Bean.

And I was right.  This is not a catalog at all, but rather, is a parody of the famous Bean book.  The early 1980s were good years for LL Bean.  The Official Preppy Handbook  by Lisa Birnbach had been published in 1980, and suddenly everyone, even those who could not even name an elite prep school, was wearing chinos and duck shoes.  It must have been a very happy surprise for LL Bean, as they had been selling those products for years.

Items from Our Catalog, and its sequel, More Items from Our Catalog had a lot of fun making light of LL Bean.  I guess not everyone was sold on the idea of actually appropriating prep style.  Perhaps it was more fun to make fun of it.  So sit back and enjoy how Alfred Gingold reimagined the world of the preppy.

The first photo in each set is from my 1977 LL Bean catalog, and the second one is from Items from Our Catalog.

Bean’s Links-Knit Cardigan became…

the Como (as in Perry, I assume) Sweater.  Note the range of sizes.

The Bush Coat was a big seller among the LL Bean big game hunters.

The Our Catalog Bush Jackets were infinitely more creative.

Everyone need a drawer full of LL Bean turtlenecks in five different colors.

But how much more fun were the Invisible Print Turtlenecks of Our Catalog?  “An extraordinarily tasteful item that can not possibly offend anyone.”

Ragg Sweaters were an early 1980s wardrobe staple…

and no one did it better than Our Catalog.

Bean’s GumShoe was the “Three eyelet version of our famous Maine Hunting Shoe – for canoeing, yard work and campus or after ski wear.”

Our Catalog warned that their Gum Shoe was “…not recommended for rapid travel, dancing or carpets.”

The Boating Moc was another LL Bean and preppy standard.

The Our Catalog version was a bit pricier, but much more useful on the water.

LL Bean Madras Slacks were guaranteed to bleed, as all good madras does.

The Our Catalog Jackass Slacks came in “Three offensive Madras patterns” and were nonbleeding.

LL Bean was selling the fanny pack years before it hit mainstream fashion.

Our Catalog saw that there was another use of the pack.

Of course I focused on the clothing offerings from LL Bean and Items from Our Catalog, but there were plenty of great products for the outdoor lifestyle.  A favorite was the Field Litter Pan, a must-have for the camping cat.


Filed under Curiosities

20 responses to “Items from Our Catalog, 1982 and 1983

  1. Christine

    Thanks, Lizzie, for the side-by-side comparisons. I have a copy of “Our Catalogue” too and almost tossed it when we moved. But I’m glad I didn’t. It’s a perfect preppy parody.


  2. Is it wrong of me to want the suburban bush jacket?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a hoot ~ thanks for the laughts!


  4. Terri H.

    “comfortable, lightweight and unutterably hideous” bwaaaha!


  5. What a SCREAM…lucky i have not had my first drink yet !!!! Oh1 Ms. Lizzie… U are the best! Great Friday nite post THIS is a must have /print out…i really would frame this one, XO THANK YOU! Cheers!


  6. We actually got the Bean catalog forever since my dad was a hunter so I remember all too well leafing through the originals of them. So you can imagine the LOLing I just did seeing the items from your Catalog – good catch!


  7. Fun–I love the invisible prints.


  8. I’m on the floor over this! A training paunch! A shoe boat! Jackass slacks! (My personal favorite…)

    Thanks so much for showing us the originals next to the parodied items, Lizzie. And I can imagine the size of the doubletake you took when you saw the bra-wearing dog on the cover!


  9. QueensGirl

    So funny, thank you for posting!


  10. This is hiliarious! Andy has always called all plaid pants “jackass pants”–I’ll have to check if he’s ever seen this Bean parody.

    The preppy trend was huge in my 7th-8th grade years (1982-83): boat shoes, turned up polo collars, monogrammed sweaters, etc. Out in Colorado, we really couldn’t have been further from “elite prep schools,” but it didn’t seem to matter.

    Thanks for sharing this, Lizzie!


  11. Jessamyn

    Oh, Karen, you and I are exactly the same age. Growing up in the San Francisco area there were multiple trends to choose from, but preppy dominated those oh-so-conformist middle-school years. I wanted to belong, but not badly enough not to laugh at the kids who were busy checking each other’s clothes to make sure they had genuine Izod alligators on their shirts and even upending their feet to show their genuine Sperry Topsider soles!


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