Menswear designers from Giorgio Armani to J. Crew popped the collars of their Spring 2013 sport coats and suits in a style reminiscent of the 1980 bestseller, “The Original Preppy Handbook.”
Designer Michael Bastian admits that his versions were inspired by issues of GQ magazine from the early 80s. But there are practical reasons for the trend, too. Frank Muytjens, head of men’s design at J. Crew, told the Wall Street Journal that a turned-up collar “is rooted in functionality. It’s another layer of protection against the cold of winter.”
True, but the popped-up collar actually began as primitive sun protection: Tennis champion Rene Lacoste designed a polo shirt in 1927 for himself. Lacoste wanted a flexible collar that could be flipped up to prevent sunburn on his neck. The style grew popular in Europe as well as the United States, because it came to evoke a life of leisurely sport.
The look took a rebellious turn in Hollywood when James Dean sported it in “Rebel Without a Cause,” followed by Marlon Brando in “On the Waterfront.” (Remember Fonzie’s leather jacket on “Happy Days?” He was hardly a prepster.)
A word of caution, gentlemen: When popping your collar today, it’s preferable for it to look a little imperfect. Perhaps one collar point could stick up slightly higher than the other? Or a little bent?
Consider it as a nonchalant flourish meant to give your outfit a bit of flair.