The Popped Collar

The Popped Collar


Imagine that it is a normal day and you are buttoning your collared shirt, and you think "maybe I will wear my collar upturned today."  Have you ever wondered who started the trend of "popping" collars?  I have wondered how this trend became such a sensation and how it began.  I have known friends to wear a popped collar and even more than one collar upturned at once.  I don't know who thinks of the term "popped collar", but you'll be happy to know that there is a really cool history behind it.  My friends, it gives me great pleasure to share the story of the popped collar with you. First, what is a popped collar?  It's a turned up collar that adds drama to a polo, blouse, or really any top with a collar.

This is what is known as a popped collar...

Before the early 20th century most shirt collars were turned up, which we refer to as a popped collar.  Men and women wore stiff collars as tall as three inches and were designed in starched linen, cotton, or lace.

Lapels on jackets or coats with long collars were occasionally worn turned up. The frock coat in the 18th and 19th century had a solid lapel that was always turned up.  In modern day, a turned up jacket lapel provides an extra shield of warmth when the weather was cold or windy.

With the invention of a tennis shirt, the upturned collar took on a new life.

In 1929 René Lacoste, the French 7-time Grand Slam champion, also known as The Crocodile, did not like the stiff dress shirts worn by tennis players on the court.

He designed a loose knit pique cotton shirt with an unstarched, flat protruding collar and long shirt-tail in back.

This is known as the most famous tennis shirt with its Lacoste logo. Lacoste's design consisted of a thick piquécollar that was worn turned up to block the sun from hitting a players neck.

A simple invention that took on the tennis court and sparked a fashion trend that made its mark in history.

As tennis shirts gained popularity, they were worn for sports such as golf, polo, soccer, and many others.  When the tennis shirt quickly entered popular culture, the function behind the upturned collar lost its "pop".  You see, the mainstream trendsetters were doing it for the sake of being cool.

In 1980, Lisa Birnbach published The Official Preppy Handbook, which proclaimed "virtues of the upturned collar". According to Birnbach, rather than being a sports innovation, an upturned collar was a signal that you were "preppy".  Birnbach did identify that someone was more likely to sport an upturned collar on beaches of Nantucketthan one would in middle America.

The book was a bestselling sensation. As a result, many people outside of the "preppy" enclaves of New England began copying the style and categorized by Ms. Birnbach.

As such, ordinary people in middle America who would not otherwise have done so began to wear the collars of their tennis shirts turned up as a popular culture trend, but not because of the collar's utilitarian purpose of blocking the sun.

During the 1980s, many celebrities wore upturned collars.  Joan Jett often upturned the collar of her leather jacket, as did Tiffany.

The "popped collar" style ultimately left popular culture fashion by the middle of the 1990s.

In recent years, the upturned collar received its nickname, "popped collar". It also gained popularity as a trend in Europe.  Today, most Americans think the the upturned collar to be a "preppy" status symbol. The trend seems not to be limited to tennis shirts, but to any collared shirt.

Prepster, tennis superstar, pro golfer, or fashion elite you might have pondered a popped collar.  A trend that derived from a sport, served a purpose, and took the fashion world by storm.  An upturned collar became a worldwide fashion sensation and is a fascinating trend favored by so many.  In the past few years, this trend has faded away and is not seen as much today.  Well, it might be spotted on the tennis courts if the sun is bothering your neck!

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