Thursday, March 24, 2011

Poppin' My Collar

Hey Preps!


Do you "pop" or "upturn" your collar?  If so...when did this habit begin for you?  Today, I would like to go in depth about the origins of the upturned collar, and why it is now popular in the preppy world.  Let us begin:


Before the 1900's, men and women alike wore some type of upturned collar.  The materials were usually linen, cotton, or lace...and covered then entire neck until it slightly braised the ear lobes.  Many men wore detachable collars that were stiff and stood straight up.
Upturned detachable collar
This all changed when WWII began, and America started producing shirts in an efficient and low-maintenance way.  Collars were then attached to lower costs and increase production rates.  


Upon the advent of tennis shirts, the upturned collar once again sparked interest in 1929 as tennis star (and clothing designer), Rene Lacoste, a 7-time Grand Slam achiever decided that the stiff shirts worn to play tennis were just not suitable.  Instead, he designed a loosely-knit pique cotton shirt with an unstarched, flat protruding collar and a longer shirt-tail in back than in front. This came to be known as the tennis shirt. However, the collar was made stiffer than the rest of the shirt.  Lacoste did so, because this allowed him to "pop" his collar up to prevent his neck from getting burnt by the sun.  


In 1980, Lisa Birnbach published The Official Preppy Handbook, in which she extolled the "virtues of the upturned collar." According to Ms. Birnbach, rather than being a sports innovation, the upturned collar on a tennis shirt was simply a signal that the wearer is a "preppy". Despite this obviously tongue-in-cheek characterization, Ms. Birnbach did correctly identify that one was more likely to view an upturned collar on the beaches of Nantucket than one would in middle America.






Popularity has now increased to an extent.  It might not pass the Vogue style test any longer, yet is found to be very popular to those who grew up wearers of the prep school uniforms.  However, it is now up for judgement of other Americans and truly is considered a "preppy" statement.  We see companies like Polo and J. Crew supporting the popped collar.  It is up to the individual whether they find it acceptable or not.

As for me...my collar will always be popped.  Regardless of the scorn I most endure!





Max and I on my 20th Birthday...in a red Lacoste polo,
Collar Popped!


9 comments:

ROS said...

I think al of my polos have been iron so much that they won't even go down! This is so funny, I was planning on doing a post on this topic in the future!

ShortBlonde said...

I feel like it definitely depends on what environment you're in. I am one of the few polo-wearers at my (super liberal/hip) NY school, and I draw enough attention to myself just by dressing preppy. Popping my collar would be overkill and would totally go against my preference for subtle taste.

However, I may attempt the look this summer when I'm in more prep-friendly Southampton. You're right- in places like Nantucket (or the Hamptons), a popped collar wouldn't draw a second look!

Raulston said...

There are those who can pull this off rather effortlessly and others who struggle to try and piece it together. You are the latter and wear it rather well.

Another great post!

Suburban Princess said...

Great post! Those who judge me are being judged back so it doesnt really bother me :O)

The City Boy said...

i love this! I make my mom starch my polos from time to time just so the collar stays stiff

DSS said...

I grew up in Florida, and we popped our collars always when playing tennis and when out on the boat. I live in the mountains now, and I still pop it when playing tennis :) I wouldn't say it's an every day thing for me though.

And...can we please discuss Max in your birthday picture? I swear, it looks like he is about to dive right into that cake! hahaha...

Bud and Leo said...

I loved reading the history here- awesome that you included that! And who doesn't love a fresh popped collar???

Mrs. Kindergarten said...

Poppin my hotty pink Lilly right now!
No questions asked! HAH!

Love,
Mrs. Kindergarten

(Daisy, my Westie pops her collar on her pink rugby shirt as well! Love to Max)

Anonymous said...

Nice popped collars!!! I always pop my collars!!! Can you please upload more photos of you with the collar upturned?

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