It’s 1985. You want to look preppy or rebellious or young. You
want to look modern. You want to show the world that you’re
trendy. What’s the easiest way to do this?
Pop your collar, baby!
Though I was wildly unaware of it at the time (although I
certainly knew the word “preppy” in the eighties) there was a
book that got the whole upturned-collar-on-the-polo-shirt ball
rolling. It was Lisa Birnbach’s satirical The Official
Preppy Handbook, published in 1980. It informed us that a
popped collar broadcast the fact
that its wearer was “preppy.” A
quick check on Amazon showed me that owners of this book are
quite proud of it. Right now I see one copy for $100 and a
“Completely Outstanding Gift Edition” for $245. Radical.
Birnbach’s book, though tongue-in-cheek,
explained that the elite of America do all sorts of fun, snobby, and
silly things. What easier way to appear to be one of the in-crowd than
to raise the collar of your tennis shirt? Anyone could do it.
Here’s the basic look in a vintage 80s
Hunt Club shirt (see pic 2). Well, minus the blue hair.
We loved it on an earnest
singing about his sunglasses in 1983 (see pic 3). (OHMIGAWD! Can I
tell you that I just learned the real lyrics to this song? It’s “Don’t
masquerade with the guy in shades,” NOT “Don’t MESS AROUND with the guy
in shades.” Although I think my lyrics totally make more sense.)
We loved it on Duran Duran (see pic 4).
(Oh, John Taylor, you were always the cutest. I loved you in Duran
Duran, I loved you in Power Station. Simon was okay, but you, with your
silent hotness, were the BEST.)
We saw Molly Ringwald’s Claire, the
spoiled girl, pop the collar of her leather jacket in The Breakfast
Club, and Judd Nelson’s angry-hot John Bender pop the collars of
his flannel shirt and denim jacket:
(OHMIGAWD! They totally show the brat pack smoking
pot in the actual
trailer! Different days, huh?)
We loved it in 1983’s The Outsiders,
which was chock-full of swoonworthy young men (see pic 5). Tom Cruise,
Matt Dillon, Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell,
AND Ralph Macchio. What a lineup! Also a great example of collar-popping
that was tough and gritty, as opposed to the pastel Izod variety:
Even Steve Jobs was popping his collar
back in the day, people (see pic 6).
Popped collars were undeniably cool. We
layered the shirts, too, for a double or multi-popped effect (see pic
7). They do frame the face nicely, don’t you think? Kind of a machine
washable Elizabethan collar for the 1980’s, no?