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.
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