I’ve never been a big collar-popper. And by “never been a big collar-popper” I mostly mean that if the ability to ridicule popped collars were a professional sport, I’d be vying for the olympic team. However, this has less to do with an actual hatred of popped collars and more to do with the fact that randomly conjuring up images of Mike “The Situation,” Fonzie, Danny Zuko and 90’s frat bros is both super easy and super fun.
In reality, I’ve always vacillated between varying levels of loathing and loving the phenomenon. Growing up, one of my impeccably dressed aunts would often don the most beautiful, crisp blouses and jackets with popped collars — and on her, it was impossible to do anything but adore the look.
Thus, it’s critical to note that not all popped collars are created equal. Since today marks the first official sighting of the polarizing popped collar on The Classy Cubicle, I think it’s important to make the distinction clear between unacceptable popped collars and acceptable popped collars:
If you encounter someone sporting a popped collar in an attempt to look “cool” while extolling the accomplishments of his or her high school tennis team, holding a can of Natural Light, and/or attempting to headbutt you or anyone in your immediate vicinity, kindly repress gag reflexes and step away.
If, however, the collar popping occurs without affectation as a tasteful, deliberate styling flourish to highlight the silhouette or detailing of a shirt, blouse or jacket, then by all means, pop away. With the onset of popped collars (especially in menswear) that frequented both spring and fall runways in the past year, it may be just the right kick in the pants (or shirt, rather) that your ensemble needs. Am I right? I’m right.
(Note to self: casually use the noun “flourish” more often.)
For further discussion of the popped collar phenomenon, please (re)read the classic and highly entertaining 2011 debate in Esquire between Michael Nguyen of Postmodern Gentleman and Fred Castleberry of Unabashedly Prep. Here’s a highlight:
Michael Nguyen: I can’t even believe we’re arguing if popping a collar is okay. We live in a post-Jersey-Shore society these days. That show has forever scarred our sartorial psyche. […] Remember: Every time you pop your collar, a kitten somewhere starts fist-pumping.
Fred Castleberry: Does popping a collar have a place in style? Absolutely. Is that place indoors in the Jersey Shore house? Absolutely not.
Important Note: Today also marks the first day sandals have been spotted on The Classy Cubicle (read: Earth Shattering Day on The Classy Cubicle: First Collar Popping, Now Sandals, What’s Next?). As with all things, it’s important that you judge whether sandals of any kind are appropriate for your work environment. In my office, they are only acceptable on summer Fridays, and must be on the dressier/more conservative side like those pictured here. For other professions, they may be much more widely acceptable, especially those in warm climates. If your work environment is very formal however, you may never be able to get away with sandals. Appropriateness on this subject varies across professions and geographies, so this one’s on you (sorry). If you’re not sure, then avoid them until you are sure–i.e. you’ve seen one of your well-dressed female superiors sport a pair. The only universally applicable footwear rules for the office are discussed in Cubicle Crimes #5 and #6 which include the classification of flip flop sandals as a universal “no,” unless you’re a life guard.