Popped collars of the 1980s are generally associated with being preppy. But you didn’t have to be preppy in order to pop your collar and look good in the process. After all, Molly Bender and Judd Nelson popped their collars in the popular 80s movie The Breakfast Club.
The fashion itself is not difficult to understand, well at least the execution anyway. Basically it was just walking around with the collar of your favorite polo shirt flipped up.
The fashion screamed “Yes I come from money, but I’m not a total square”, and it was a popular trend among kids who you didn’t want to mess with because their fathers would sue you into oblivion!
Popped Collars In The 80s
Whether you were at the tennis court or the country club, there’s a good chance you’d come across a popped collar or two during the 1980s. It was just a popular preppy fashion trend, and if you were somewhere people with money hung out, chances are you would see it.
Popped collars also went well with the popular sweaters tied around the neck fashion trend. If you wanted to max out your preppy meter, this was a sure way to do it.
So what was behind this unique fashion trend of the 1980s? Well to understand it you had to learn about its origins, as well as its presence in pop culture of the day.
The Preppy Handbook
“The Official Preppy Handbook” was released back in 1980 and discussed the many features of being preppy. Of the numerous innovations that took place in the fashion industry during the decade, the upturned collar was one of the most popular.
There is just something about an Izod Lacoste tennis shirt with the collar flipped up that simply said, “I am richer than you”. The book was a bestseller, and countless people who were not part of the usual preppy scene began to emulate the style around the country.
The popularity of the upturned collar spread like wildfire, and by the mid-1980s, everyone who was anyone was doing it. On the West Coast, it was fairly common to see musicians like Tiffany and Joan Jett with their collars flipped up. And of course, on the TV and in the movie theaters, everyone was sporting the popped collar look.
The fashion trend started at golf and tennis clubs in New England during the late 1970s. It was during this time period that Izod Lacoste was one of the more popular sporting brands available in most pro shops. The brand itself dates back to 1953 when David Crystal purchased the rights to market the Lacoste brand in America.
At the time, his Izod brand was already very popular, and when Lacoste shirts started selling, he made the decision to combine the names. By the end of the 1970s, the Lacoste brand hit its peak, establishing itself as the authentic preppy shirt.
The Breakfast Club
If you grew up in the 1980s, then chances are you have seen the film The Breakfast Club. The movie changed the way an entire generation viewed life, and everyone could relate to at least one student from the film. For the guys, there is something special about Molly Ringwald’s character in the film, who was seen popping the collar on her leather jacket during the film.
Even the one and only Judd Nelson, who played a bad boy in the film, popped his collar. So naturally, John Bender followed suit when he folded up the collars on both his denim jacket as well as flannel shirt at the end of the film.
But the popped collar style was not just for teenagers. In the 1983 comedy “Trading Places”, the athletes at Dan Aykroyd’s country club also turned their collars up.
The hilarious film which also features Eddie Murphy, tells a tale about a street hustler who becomes an unwilling participant in a bet to see how quickly he could adapt to living an upper-class lifestyle. At the same time, Aykroyd’s character had to adapt to living on the streets, because of a bet made between two brothers who had to compete at everything.
Are Popped Collars Still Popular?
Unfortunately popped collars are no longer a popular fashion trend today. It seems to be one of those popular 80s fashions that went from everywhere to nowhere once the decade ended.
Sure there is still no shortage of people who sport preppy fashion, however the popped collared aspect of it seems to have fallen out of favor.