The popped collar: upturned, sometimes layered, and often paired with a preppy blazer was the trend that ruled throughout the 1980s (a decade of oversized shoulders, crimped hair and over-the-top accessories) before becoming the bro style choice du jour in the noughties. But this wasn’t always the case. In fact, the popped collar was more practical than fashionable way back when.
Thanks to starchy shirt fashions of the day, the first popped collars – sorry, ‘upturned’ collars – were the rule rather than the exception in the 20th century. A detachable collar was even invented to give men a break from the rather uncomfortable and restrictive neckwear. However, it was on the tennis courts where the upturned collar came into its practical own, as an easy means by which to protect players from near-inevitable back-of-the-neck sunburn.
The man behind the practical popped collar? His name might ring a bell – René Lacoste. The year was 1929, and the prolific French tennis player came up with the softer (read: starch-free) polo shirt which broke with the stiff tennis gear traditions of the day, and with it, the popped collar. In fact, the use of the popped collar has filtered through several sports over the years. Indian cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin wore a popped collar as his trademark on- and off-field ‘look’, while Eric Cantona – perhaps best known for his stint at Manchester United throughout the ‘90s – loved a good popped collar.
It wasn’t long before the popped collar made its way into the fashion, rather than the sporting, arena either. Before it became the favoured trend of pastel-coloured, shorts-wearing American bros in the noughties (as well as British urban subcultures), in pop culture, the popped collar was first associated with rebellion (see James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause and Fonzie in Happy Days), and then, prep. In fact, it was all over the place in the 1970s and ’80s, thanks to Diane Keaton’s Annie Hall and assorted WASPy Northeasterners, also receiving a shout-out in Lisa Birnbach’s bestseller The Official Preppy Handbook.
To this day, popped collar past of Kanye West aside, the upturned shirt is still a status-signalling style in some circles, worn by people such as Jane Fonda. From par-for-the-course to practical on the tennis courts in the 20th century, preppy in the 1980s and a staple of ‘bro couture’ in the noughties, the popped collar has enjoyed a checkered past. Will it live on? Well, Prada made a valiant effort to bring it back in its Spring/Summer 2018 collection. As with ‘fetch’, it doesn’t look likely to happen though.
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Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
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