poped-header 7-6-2011

To pop? Or stop?

A look at the pluses and minuses of popping your collar.

Let’s address this immediately shall we? Having a popped or upturned collar is like flying a preppy flag. If you want to get people’s attention and make a statement about who you are, popping your collar is the way to go. But rarely does such a simple stylish act bring with it so much baggage. Here’s what you’re getting into should you pop yours.

 

 

Hoist the mainsail.

Just as the button-down collar originated with polo players not wanting their collars to flap as they galloped along, the popped collar comes from a practical application as well. While on the water, sailors and boaters frequently would turn up their collars to protect their necks from the sun. Some liked to keep their collars up when their feet hit dry land as well, and the look caught on. And when you’ve got guys like this setting the standard, it’s no surprise it became a popular look.

 

 

Clothes may make the man, but collars certainly do not.

We’re fairly certain in saying that back when Paul Newman was leading the charge, the popped collar was not seen as a movement but merely a cool alternative way to wear a shirt. But, by the time Lisa Birnbach’s Official Preppy Handbook was published in 1980, the look had come to be synonymous with an eastern U.S. collegiate lifestyle. Suddenly, the popped collar was everywhere and popularity has its pitfalls.

Perhaps this was the moment when things began to change. Perhaps not. Regardless, at some point, the popped collar began to be associated with being slightly obnoxious rather than cool. It became a deliberate reach for cool instead of just being cool. And for some, that meant that nevermore would they pop their collars. And that’s a shame.

 

 

Pop on. Pop off.

It’s true, that if you pop your collar these days, in some sense you’re “asking for it.” You’re asking to be noticed. To be seen. Which isn’t a bad thing. As long as you know why you’re doing it. We see guys wearing team jerseys in the stands at football games and we’re pretty sure they aren’t doing it because they expect to be called on by the coach at any minute and told to get in the huddle. Popping your collar is really no different. It means you have an affinity for a stylish tradition. For some that means preppy. For some that means just plain cool. And what it means to you is all that matters.

TAGS: Collars | lisa birnbach | official preppy handbook | paul newman | popped collar | preppy | risky business | sailing | tom cruise

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  • avatar
    WayneWWhitehead
    Popped is right out of the '50's. Cool, Daddy-o!!
    38 months ago | Report abuse |
  • avatar
    KenBarrett
    I'll be the first to disagree whole heartedly with this article. I could write you a book on the reasons, but we've all got our own opinions. It may have been cool in the 50s all the way through the 90s, but times have changed. Leave your collars down if you want to keep your dignity and have any shot at taking that girl home you've been eying across the bar.
    38 months ago | Report abuse |
    • avatar
      SidLyons
      Agreed. In my experience, it is far from cool and somewhat obnoxious.
      38 months ago | Report abuse |
  • avatar
    JoshWilberger
    The fact times have changed is not necessarily a catch-all opinion - much of men's fashion, whether in a contemporary permutation or intended form, orginitates from years ago. I myself agree though that it is indeed obnoxious. In high school, the "in" group, the preps with money, would do it which brought along negative connotations. I do find the origins of the practice to be pretty interesting.
    38 months ago | Report abuse |
  • avatar
    michaelallen
    where does one get the rugbys with the 1818 on the collar? fall item?
    38 months ago | Report abuse |
  • avatar
    StuHodgkiss
    I can never work out when is best to pop, so I always end up not doing so, even though I really wanna!
    38 months ago | Report abuse |
  • avatar
    Anthony Shea
    Popping my collar got old, as I grew old. In high school, everyone wore them. In business, it’s not vogue to wear your collar like that. Today the only way you will catch me with a popped collar is if a gust of wind lifts it up & I do not notice it.
    38 months ago | Report abuse |
  • avatar
    MichaelMcMasters
    I agree that popping your collar is obnoxious. Unless there's an actual reason. Personally, on occasion, ill pop just to protect my neck on the golf course. but only if im already burnt. if your walking around the mall with a popped collar, your just begging for attention, and begging for attention is NF.
    38 months ago | Report abuse |