Dine has explained the origin of his imagery as stemming from his devotion to both a personal lexicon and elements of popular culture. The bathrobe image evolved naturally out of his paintings and drawings of tools, ties and palettes, objects which he encountered on a daily basis: "Then the bathrobe came because I wanted to make a self-portrait, and I found this thing in The New York Times, and it looked like I was in it... I did a little drawing over it." (Interview with C. Glenn, quoted in Jim Dine Drawings, New York, 1985, p. 37)
Red Robe (Self Portrait Study) is among the first examples of the bathrobe self-portraits from 1964. Here Dine reveals both his roots in the Abstract Expressionist movement of the previous generation of American artists, as well as his position as one of the originators of Pop art. The portrait is implied, not by a traditional visual likeness of the artist's face, but instead through his possessions, both simulated (the robe) and actual (the belt), as well as in the active gestures of paint.