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|
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,|