LL Bean – Christmas 1984

It’s just before Christmas in 1984, and like clockwork, the Bean boots are brought down from their summer stay in the attic, sweaters unpacked from 25 gallon Rubbermaid tubs, and LL Bean needlepoint stockings are hung from the mantle. You’ve got the Footloose soundtrack playing on your Sanyo stereo dual tape cassette player, and a Macintosh 128K humming away in the home office.  A lot has changed both technologically and stylistically in the past 32 years, however thumbing through this catalog, you will find yourself perhaps even more surprised, by what hasn’t.

L.L. Bean had become a household name, and provider of all things warm and cozy, from sleeping bags, to fair isle sweaters, and the ubiquitous LL Bean parka. While snowboarding wouldn’t become an Olympic sport for another 14 years, skiing and snowboarding were steadily becoming more integrated into pop culture. As part of our Christmas lineup, we are delighted to share with you this Winter catalog from LL Bean, which carries on a 100+ year tradition of outdoor offerings and cold weather essentials.

To convert from 1984 prices to 2016 prices, multiply by 2.3

Table of Contents:

  1. Men’s Outerwear and Shirts
  2. Women’s Outerwear and Shirts
  3. Boots and Footwear 
  4. Ski Wear and Accessories 
  5. Home Goods and Camping

 

 

Jackets, Vests and Shirts

 

The LL Bean “Boat and Tote” bag is about as identifiable as the brand itself – and a favorite to have monogrammed.

 

These puffy vests (Back to the Future, anyone?) were a very 80s style that might be seeing a comeback in more recent times. The Anorak jacket (with large front-center pocket) is also a classic item that had massive popularity in the prep world.

 

The LL Bean Norwegian sweater is one of Bean’s most iconic items. The classic version was made from 20% rayon and 80% wool (now revered to as the 80/20) and was prominently featured in the 1980 best seller “The Official Preppy Handbook” by Lisa Birnbach.

LL Bean revived this item to their modern lineup, still made in Norway (except now 100% wool), and is one of their warmest sweater offerings. This is one item we sure are glad hasn’t changed all that much, and is certainly a contender for the LL Bean Hall of Fame.

 

So much good stuff on one page… This dates back to when LL Bean still sold Patagonia products in their stores (now one of their biggest competitors, go figure!). The LL bean lined chinos, corduroys, and jeans are still a winter staple sold in stores today.

 

 

Along with alpine skiing, Cross Country skiing saw a jump in popularity through the 80s and 90s as new technology made skis lighter and faster. Bill Koch, a nordic skier from Vermont, brought attention to the sport after becoming the first American to ever medal in the FIS World Championships in 1982. Bean still sells plenty of ski gear today, including full sets of skis, poles, bindings, and plenty of clothes to accompany them.

 

Patents for Gore-Tex, the breathable yet waterproof fabric that outdoor enthusiasts have learned to love, were only issued in 1980 to founders Wilbert and Robert Gore, who were chemical engineers from Delaware. Gore-Tex came onto the scene as the new standard for waterproof tech fabrics, and has been widely used ever since by dozens of brands for rain jackets, ski apparel, windbreakers, and of course, snow pants.

These turtlenecks are a remnant of 70s style. The heavy, tight neck would fall out of favor for a lighter, wider neck in later years.
The modern version of the crewneck finds a balance between these two approaches, with a snug fit neck that errs on the thinner side.

 

These Pendleton wool shirts and robes were up to the challenge of keeping you warm even through cold New England nights.

The crewneck Shetland wool sweater is a perennial classic, and has been continually sold by Bean for generations. This years offerings bring back the same grey, oatmeal, navy, and red were offered, in ever so slightly different shades to keep up with the color palate of 2016. While these were made in the British Isles, modern day versions are made in China.

 

Women’s Outerwear and Shirts

If the models look a little…well….odd….that’s because LL Bean used their own employees as catalog models for decades in lieu of professional modeling staff.

 

 

Boots and Footwear

 

Now this is really cool (if you are a Bean Boot fan, that is); the Bean Boot mocs (for women at least) were offered in a choice of 4 colors.

It’s impossible to talk about LL Bean without talking about the classic Bean Boot and Maine Hunting Shoe. These are still made in Maine workshops by skilled craftsman to provide a level of quality that is hard to match. The lined insoles here provide a tad more warmth and comfort, and are a product still carried today.

 

The camp moc is another LL Bean favorite in the footwear department, and stylistically almost nothing whatsoever has changed between the 1984 version and the 2016 version; The definition of a classic.

 

 

 

Ski Gear

Smith Optics is still one of the largest players in the ski goggle game. Those rose colored lenses are also distinctly 80s

Home Goods and Accessories

 

Here we see L.L. Bean’s field watch in collaboration with Hamilton. Hamilton worked with Bean on many collaborations including a chronograph and quartz options. The one pictured here is based on a quartz movement that is today still very popular among Hamilton collectors. The LL Bean book pack has also barely changed in well over 30 years.

A warm place for puppers and doggos alike

 

Here’s something you won’t see in the 2016 LL Bean Christmas catalog, fresh apples from Maine, shipped by mail. The waxed wood carrier can still be found in catalogs today, with a few updates to the design.

 

The Victorinox Swiss Army Pocket Knife is still sold by LL Bean to this day and is a popular stocking stuffer.

 

 

More Patagonia x LL Bean garb. These warm-up suits look real warm.

 

I would be overcome with joy if Bean brought back these wool tartan slacks.

The old Federal Express logo (the modern FedEx version didn’t debut until 1994).

 

 

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2 Responses to “LL Bean – Christmas 1984

  • Great find! Even though there are so many things still sold, I wish they’d bring back items like the colored mocs!

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