Friday, March 15, 2013

The Return Of The Popped Collar by The Wall Street Journal

Collars are popping. Everywhere. Why is the fashion industry suddenly styling our clothes like it's 1984 all over again? Ray Smith reports.

The Return Of The Popped Collar
Should you pop it like it's 1983?
Upturned collars have been spotted at the shows of numerous labels, including Emporio Armani, Hermès, Michael Bastian, John Varvatos and J.Crew. The look is popping up just in time for polo-shirt season—but it isn't limited to shirts. Collars were also turned up on men's overcoats, sport coats and even suits.
Don't panic: This doesn't mean a full-on return of the 1980s preppy look indelibly associated with the popped collar. The modern upturned collar is a nonchalant flourish meant to give an outfit a little flair. It draws on the Italian concept ofsprezzatura—an expression of style meant to look spontaneous—that has infiltrated menswear in recent years, showing up in rolled-up pants cuffs a few years ago and pocket squares spilling out of the pocket in an apparently unstudied way.
A modern take on collar popping at Hermès's spring 2013 runway show reveals a detail of contrasting fabric.
Some of today's collar popping is meant to show off design details like piping or a contrasting fabric or color on or under a collar. At Hermès, which showed upturned collars in its men's spring and fall 2013 shows, some contrast details are apparent only when the collars are turned up, says Veronique Nichanian, artistic director of Hermès men's. The details give the pieces "multiple lives," she says. "You are free to show it or to keep it only for you with the collar down."
At J.Crew's fall 2013 presentation during New York Fashion Week, a number of male models turned up the collars of coats and suit jackets. Frank Muytjens, head of men's design at J.Crew, says the turned-up collar "is rooted in functionality. It's another layer of protection against the cold of winter." That is one reason why Mr. Muytjens turns up the collar of his own peacoat, he says. He admits, too: "It gives a sharp silhouette."
For many viewers, the look unmistakably riffs on 1980s style. Designer Michael Bastian says the upturned-collar looks in his spring 2013 show were inspired by issues of GQ magazines from the early 1980s: "There were a lot of popped collars."
The upturned collar's roots stem from tennis champion René Lacoste, who in 1927 designed a polo shirt for his own use with flexible collars that could be turned up to prevent the neck from being sunburned. Tennis and other genteel sports such as rowing and polo embraced the polo shirt and the upturned collar, according to Mark-Evan Blackman, assistant professor and menswear specialist at the Fashion Institute of Technology. "Many of the men wearing these were scholar-athletes performing outside," he says. The look grew popular in Europe and the U.S., particularly among the upper middle class, and came to evoke a life of leisurely sport.
[image]Michael Bastian
In this more '80s-inspired look at Michael Bastian's spring 2013 show, the collars on both the jacket and the shirt are popped.
In Hollywood and pop culture, the upturned collar was also seen on 1950s rebellious style icons such as James Dean in the movie "Rebel Without A Cause" and Marlon Brando in "On the Waterfront" and later on Fonzie in the hit television show "Happy Days."
The publication of the book "The Official Preppy Handbook" in 1980 helped popularize the wearing of popped collars. "It was meant to look casual, as if you didn't even know you had popped it," says Lisa Birnbach, co-author of "The Official Preppy Handbook" and author of its 2010 follow-up "True Prep." The look signaled a preppy person "running late to where you have to be—you're almost late to the tennis club," she adds. "If you ran, the collar would fly up by itself in the hurry."
Preppies were depicted as entitled snobs in 1980s cinema, and upturned collars' popularity ebbed in fashion in the minimalist '90s. At the moment, the popped collar has migrated beyond preppy to display Continental flair. But Ms. Birnbach says that in her circles, the popped collar never went away.
[image]The Kobal Collection
Jon Cryer in the '80s movie 'Pretty in Pink'
The popped collar still has enough detractors that it should be worn with care. Michael Fisher, menswear trend director at Fashion Snoops, a New York-based trend-research company, says menswear might have some success with the style if it is promoted as practical on items "that can be worn inside or outside to shield one from the weather."
It is trickier, he says, when it is purely a fashion statement. He recommends that men looking to pop their collars on blazers, for example, make sure the colors and patterns around the collar are subtle, to avoid being deemed "showy" and affected.
When popping the collar, it is still preferable for it to look a little imperfect—not perfectly straight up, a little bent or curled or even with one collar point sticking up higher than the other.
Even Mr. Bastian, the designer, cautions against taking his popped collars too literally. "It's a styling trick to hopefully pique your attention; I'm not saying you have to wear it this way," he says. —

1 comment:

  1. Unlike teenage girls, many teen guys are clueless when it comes to fashion. They might find it quite challenging to put together an outfit that is both comfortable and stylish but these are really a nice fashionable update.


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